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This paper was written by Dr. Don W. King.

Included with the gracious permission of "Dr. Zeus", creator of "Into the Wardrobe", a popular website devoted to C.S. Lewis. The original online copy of this paper can be found here.

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Articles > The C.S. Lewis Archive > The Childlike in George MacDonald and C. S. Lewis

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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.

1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | Footnotes

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