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Lucy's inability to recapture her intuitive relationship with nature
foreshadows a failure of obedience the next day. When the children eventually
find themselves lost, Lucy sees Aslan off in the distance. Unfortunately no one
else can see Aslan. In fact, when Susan asks Lucy "where do you think you saw
him," Lucy says: "Don't talk like a grown-up . . . I didn't think I saw him. I
saw him" (121). The others, however, (except, ironically, Edmund) refuse to
believe her, and Lucy, instead of following Aslan on her own and what she knows
to be the truth, goes along with the others, sad and depressed. Not surprisingly
the group bumbles along that day and even endures an ambush before collapsing
with fatigue in the evening. Once again Lucy wanders off into the forest, this
time successfully communing with the tree spirits; more importantly, she sees
and talks with Aslan who firmly but gently points out her failure and
commissions her to go convince them that he will lead them. Lucy does this in
spite of the other's scorn and disbelief. That Aslan appears only to Lucy is
significant because it underscores her humility and great capacity for faith. At
the same time, her initial failure to obey Aslan reminds us of our own capacity
for failure. However, Lucy's subsequent affirmation of Aslan and determination
to do as he asks, brings us encouragement.
Her childlike nature peeks in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. Several
times in the story her childlikeness is emphasized. The first time we see this
is when Eustace returns to his shipmates after his metamorphosis into a dragon.
While the others hold back in fear, Lucy runs up to Eustace and discovers who he
is; she even consoles him and "screwed up her courage to kiss the scaly face"
(VDT, p. 82). A second illustration occurs later. After Eustace's dream
encounter with Aslan and re-transformation back into his human form, Edmund
explains who Aslan is to Eustace and indicates Lucy's close relationship to
Aslan: "He is the great Lion, the son of the Emperor over the Sea, who saved me
and saved Narnia. We've all seen him. Lucy sees him most often" (92). Lucy's
childlikeness and close tie to Aslan is re-emphasized still later when he
appears to her while she is reading a magic book and discovering spells that can
give her great power. For instance, she reads of spells that can give her money,
knowledge, power, and advantage. She is tempted most by a spell that will "make
beautiful her that uttereth beyond the lot of mortals" (129). As she begins to
say the spell, Aslan appears in the text itself, and "he was growling and you
could see most of his teeth. She became horribly afraid and turned over the page
at once" (131).
When we last see her in this tale, her childlikeness is again highlighted as
she speaks with Aslan for the final time. She asks him: "Oh, Aslan . . . . Will
you tell us how to get into your country from our world?" (215). When she learns
that she can never return, she says: "It isn't Narnia, you know . . . . It's
you. We shan't meet you there. And how can we live, never meeting you?" (215).
Lucy has to be content with Aslan's promise that she will meet him in her own
world under another name. The centrality of Lucy's childlike character in the
first three Narnia books is significant. Indeed, even though Lewis employs an
omniscient narrator, much of what we learn about Narnia comes to us as if
through Lucy's eyes. Furthermore, she is the first one to enter Narnia; she is
the one who sees Aslan most often; she is the one who longs most fiercely to
remain in Narnia. Lucy's longing for and sensitivity to Aslan's guidance, her
humility, her willingness to submit her own desires to a force higher than
herself, mark her as an attractive childlike character.
In MacDonald's The Princess and the Goblin, we encounter another
little girl, Irene, the childlike character I believe Lewis patterned Lucy
after. I say this based both upon Lewis' afore mentioned salute to MacDonald and
upon the obvious similarities between Lucy and Irene. Irene is also a childlike
character who exercises innocence, awe, and longing. For instance, her first
adventure occurs because she is bored by her toys on a rainy day and longs for
something more. When left alone for a moment by her nurse, Irene opens a door to
a stairway she has never seen before, and makes her way, after a long climb, to
an unfamiliar room inhabited by a mysterious old woman who identifies herself as
Irene's great-great-grandmother. During this meeting the old woman promises to
be Irene's caretaker and does throughout the story, serving as a kind of
fairy-godmather. When Irene returns to her own room, she, like Lucy, has a hard
time convincing others of the reality of her experience.
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