[DWJ] Re: The Last Battle (was witches in fiction, and exploiting)

Minnow minnow at belfry.org.uk
Wed Jun 21 15:17:54 EDT 2006

>On Wed, 21 Jun 2006, estairm at yahoo.com wrote:
>|I hate The Last Battle for many reasons, partly the
>|end of Narnia, partly because of the Ape, but mostly
>|because of Susan.
>|I mean, she was left alone in our world, with her
>|entire family wiped out, because she forgot Narnia?!?
>|She was not a bad person, just shallow.
>Word. I've seen eloquent and well-written defenses of Lewis's
>treatment of Susan, and explanations for why she really was left
>out of heaven. And I put them in the same box where I put the
>elegant New Historicist explanations for why Little Women's final
>treatment of Jo March wasn't really shabby at all. That is, I
>filed them away as interesting intellectual arguments, but they
>don't really change the visceral experience I got from reading
>the book both as a child and as an adult.

I had a severely practical "take" on that bit.  Susan hadn't died: she
wasn't in the train-crash that killed the other three (I always suspected
that was at Bristol Temple Meads, because the long curve and where they
were going seemed to fit).  So she wasn't immediately eligible for "heaven"
or "super-Narnia" or wherever it was the others ended up.  I always assumed
that so long as she didn't actively and for ever deny whatever aspect of
God she ended up with during her life-time, she'd get there in the end,
because it was made plain that super-Narnia was just one bit of a much
larger place; each "ring" was larger than the one outside it, and their
parents, whom they saw waving to them from another spur off the main part
of Aslan's Country, were presumably not there because they'd been King And
Queen Of Narnia: that bit was "real England" where no good thing was ever
destroyed.  Susan just didn't have the luck to die young as those whom the
gods love do, but she wasn't barred from heaven forever, as I saw it.

My disappointment was that Lucy met Mr. Tumnus again, but I really *wanted*
her to meet the mer-girl she saw over the rail of the /Dawn Treader/,
because "she knew that if they ever did meet they would be friends".

>Here was the lesson I learned: boys are allowed to be spunky,
>fallen and forgiven, or warrior heroes. Girls are allowed to be
>plucky or so innocent as to be somewhat aggravating. But whereas
>what boys are allowed to be somewhat resembles what boys are
>encouraged to be in society (warrior heroes having some vague
>resemblance, at least, to athleticism and stereotyped masculine
>heroics), girls are forbidden from being what they are encouraged
>to be in society (concerned with appearance and social mores).

Lawks!  Don't go reading *That Hideous Strength*, even in the heavily-cut
later paperback edition; you'll go off in an apoplexy!  I nearly threw it
across the room several times, and only its being a hardback belonging to
my mother saved it.  I still find it very annoying in its assumptions about
sexually-based roles in -- well, in everything, really.


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