Susan's and Lucy's Thrilling Ride

Jessica Harnsberger '07 English 65, Fantasy, Brown University, 2004

After witnessing the horrible murder of noble Aslan, Susan and Lucy rush to his side and remain there crying until they can cry no more. Overwhelmed by a miserable sadness, the two girls unfasten the muzzle and gaze upon Aslan's beautifully brace and patient face. Susan and Lucy finally stand up after a few hours of weeping and pace back and forth to keep themselves warm. At sunrise, while catching a glimpse of Cair Paravel in the distance, a loud cracking noise forces them to turn back to find the Stone Table split in two and Aslan missing. In a few seconds Aslan's great voice comforts them, as he once again appears before them shining in the dawning light. Susan and Lucy, both thrilled and frightened, embrace him in utter disbelief. In very little time, Aslan points out that they must embark on a long journey and invites them to ride on his back:

And with a great heave he rose underneath them and then shot off, faster than any horse could go, down hill and into the thick of the forest.

That ride was perhaps the most wonderful thing that happened to them in Narnia. Have you ever had a gallop on a horse? Think of that; and then take away the heavy noise of hoofs and the jingle of bits and imagine instead the almost noiseless padding of the great paws. Then imagine instead of the black or gray or chestnut back of the horse the soft roughness of golden fur, and the mane flying back in the wind. And then imagine you are going about twice as fast as the fastest racehorse. But this is a mount that doesn't need to be guided and never grows tired. He rushes on and on, never missing his footing, never hesitating, threading his way with perfect skill between tree trunks, jumping over bush and briar and the smaller streams, wading the larger, swimming the largest of all. And you are riding not on a road nor in a park nor even on the downs, but right across Narnia, in spring, down solemn avenues of beech and across sunny glades of oak, through wild orchards of snow-white cherry trees, past roaring waterfalls and mossy rocks and echoing caverns, up windy slopes alight with gorse bushes, and across the shoulders of heathery mountains and along giddy ridges and down, down, down again into wild valleys and out into the acres of blue flowers. [180-181].

Questions

1. Lewis begins his description of the ride with a question to involve the reader and his/her experience. He then asks the reader to "imagine" changing a part of his/her experience to make it more like the girls' in this story. Is this technique effective? Does Lewis successfully relate his audience to the action in Narnia?

2. Lewis strings together many long sentences broken up into several phrases by commas. Why might he use that construction for this passage?

3. This description of the natural scenery of Narnia seems quite realistic. How does this fit in with the more fantastic aspects of this imaginary world (including strange beasts and animals that talk to humans)? Why doesn't Lewis make the appearance of Narnia more fantastic?

4. In other descriptions of Aslan, he appears to be a creature who inspires both awe and fright in others. How does this passage contribute to the depiction of Aslan as a combination of good and terrible forces?

References

Lewis, C. S. The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe. New York: HarperCollins, 1950.


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Last modified 16 February 2004