So, I finally finished the third book in the Narnia series, Voyage of the Dawn Treader, and I’m ready for the movie! Here’s the trailer to whet your appetite!
Many modern day movie goers may not realize that C.S. Lewis (author of the Narnia Chronicles, among other things) and J.R.R. Tolkien (author of the Lord of the Rings trilogy) were good friends. They shared a common interest in literature, especially fiction and myth. In fact, Tolkien converted Lewis to Christianity after conversations about the literary significance of the gospels. They both used fantasy and fiction to explore the meaning of their Christian faith.
Now on to my thoughts on the book. Spoiler alert and all that jazz.
I have to say that I like this one better than the second one. It seemed to change scenery a little more than the last one, and I found myself really trying to figure out some of the allegories more this time. The symbolism was not obvious to me, so I have no idea if I’m on the right track with some of these things, or if I’m stretching it further than intended. So, how does this book relate to the Christian experience?
Here are some of the symbols that jumped out at me and their possible meaning:
- The most obvious symbol, of course, is Aslan, the representation of Jesus Christ. There is a nice touch at the end, where Lucy and Edmund are talking to a Lamb, who morphs into the Lion. The picture of Christ as Lion and Lamb is picked up in Revelation 5:5-6.
- The voyage presents a journey typical of the Christian life. On several occasions, there is an opportunity to stop or turn back. Reepicheep continually begs them to continue until they reach the end of the world. The Christian life is one of abiding commitment until the end.
- Eustace’s journey from boy to dragon to boy is representative of conversion from a life of sin. Eustace is the annoying cousin, who is generally mean, ungrateful, and selfish. He wonders away on his own and finds himself turned into a dragon, representative of a life of sin. When he has a change of heart, he turns into a boy again, now wearing a nice, white, clean pair of clothes. The Bible presents sin as an entrapping state of affairs and conversion as a change in character. Baptism comes at the time of conversion and represents “putting on” of Christ (as clothes; Gal. 3:26-27; see also Rev. 7:14).
- The magic seen by Lucy at the book of spells shows the deceptive nature of sin and human desire. The book promised a more beautiful Lucy, and it offered her insight into the thoughts of her friends. Neither of these desires would bring her actual joy.
- The foray into the black abyss seems to be another representation of sin or evil of some sort. It possibly shows what it takes to save one drowning in sin, as they pick up a man who could not get out of the darkness. In the darkness, his nightmares had come true and he had lost all hope.
- The end of the world, with all its brightness, represents heaven. It is the ultimate destination of the journey, but it was not time for all of them to arrive yet. As in the book, the Christian yearns for the ultimate destination of heaven.
I’m sure there were a ton more symbols, but these were some of the ones that jumped out at me. I was left wondering about the identification of the magician, the star person, his daughter, and some other characters. It’s a fun book to think through the elements of the Christian faith. So, what are your thoughts? Any other symbols jump out at you?
Update (12/30/10): I’ve since seen the movie, and you can see my comments on the movie here.