in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader

Carole Ann Penney '07 English 65, Fantasy, Brown University, 2004

C. S. Lewis introduces a new character to his series of The Chronicles of Narnia in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. Eustace, a cousin to the Pevensies, begins the journey as a brat, constantly complaining and insulting the others on the ship. However, after stumbling upon a dead dragon and transforming into one himself, Eustace has an encounter with Aslan that changes his attitude for the remainder of the book.

"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 than the others had been. And there was I as smooth and soft as a peeled switch and smaller than I had been. There 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're 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 . . . in new clothes -- the same I've got on now, as a matter of fact. And then suddenly I was back here." [116-117]

Questions

1. Is this a baptism for Eustace? Lewis later refers to the event, writing "the cure had begun" (120). In what respect is Eustace cured? What changes in his character can be seen before and after this episode?

2. Why does Lewis choose to communicate the story of Eustace's encounter with Aslan from Eustace's standpoint, rather than simply describing the event through the narrator?

3. Eustace attempts to peel of his dragon skin three times before Aslan helps him to finally remove it. Why does Lewis choose this as the course of events in this episode? Why is it not possible for Eustace to rid himself of the dragon skin?

4. Why does Lewis use such harsh wording to describe that Aslan "caught hold" of Eustace and "threw" him into the water? What does this say about Aslan's character? What does it say about Eustace's character?

5. Why does Eustace suddenly appreciate his arms? What is the importance in his comparison of his arms with those of Caspian without a tone of spite or jealousy?

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