Eustace's Transformation

Paisid Map Aramphongphan '07 English 65, Fantasy, Brown University, 2004

In The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, Edmund, Lucy and their cousin, Eustace, join Caspian and his crew in a voyage to find his father's friends at the very eastern end of the world. After having just gone ashore on an island, Eustace explores the island alone to find a quiet place to rest, not planning to rejoin the others until the day's work is over. Eustace comes across a dragon's cave, in which he finds treasure. After sleeping there with greedy thoughts, he finds himself turning into a dragon himself the following day. As the story progresses, and Eustace learns his lesson, and he becomes a human being again, with the help of a lion. Here he recounts to Edmund what happened:

"Well, he peeled the beastly stuff right off -- just as I thought I'd done it myself the other three times, only they hadn't hurt -- and there it was lying on the grass: only ever so much thicker, and darker, and more knobbly-looking then the others had been. And there was I as smooth and soft as a peeled switch and smaller than I had been. Then he caught hold of me -- I didn't like that much for I was very tender underneath now that I'd no skin on -- and threw me into the water. It smarted like anything but only for a moment. After that it became perfectly delicious and as soon as I started swimming and splashing I found that all the pain had gone from my arm. And then I saw why. I'd turned into a boy again. You'd think me simply phony if I told you how I felt about my own arms. I know they've no muscle and are pretty mouldy compared with Caspian's, but I was so glad to see them.

"After a bit the lion took me out and dressed me -- "

"Dressed you. With his paws?"

"Well, I don't exactly remember that bit. But he did somehow or other: in new clothes -- the same I've got on now, as a matter of fact. And then suddenly I was back here. Which is what makes me think it must have been a dream." [p. 116]

Discussion Questions

1. The Voyage of the Dawn Trader is told by an omniscient narrator. In the quoted passage, however, one of the characters, in a conversation with another, lets the reader know what happens. Why does Lewis decide to let a character, not the narrator, tell this part of the story?

2. Eustace peels his skin off three times before the lion helps peel it off the last time, then he is thrown into the water and turns into a boy again. What is the significance of this? What could the act of skin peeling, the water and the transformation symbolize?

3. Questioned by Edmund, Eustace says he cannot remember exactly how the lion dresses him, or how it talks to him, but he knows that it happens somehow. Why do you think Lewis raise this point?

4. How does Lewis make the conversation between Eustace and Edmund natural and convincing? Consider especially the way Eustace talks.

References

Lewis, C. S. The Voyage of the "Dawn Treader". New York: HarperCollins, 1952.


Victorian Web Overview C. S. Lewis Victorian courses

Last modified 16 February 2004