Wednesday, 25 July 2012

The Silver Chair: Chapter 16

The Ending

The last chapters of so many of the Chronicles are so packed with truths and pieces of brilliance, it’s near impossible to comment on them. Like the end of The Voyage of the Dawn Treader and The Last Battle, this chapter reveals so much of what makes Lewis such a brilliant author, I don’t know where to start with the comments: We see the beauty of Narnia for the first time in the book; the sorrow of a son reunited with his father only to lose him again; a return to the splendour of Aslan’s Country; the rejuvenation of the old dead king in a scene that once again comes rather close to allegory; the granting of Caspian’s wish to see our world, for just five minutes; bullies being taught their lesson; a poorly run school being investigated and put right; and social and political comments made on education, feminism (?), leadership and politics. Lewis crams all of this into just one chapter so smoothly and adeptly that we hardly notice the transitions.

I’ve said many times before that Lewis is such a good writer, he’s really hard to paraphrase. It’s better to quote him directly. So below are a few of my favourite quotes from the last chapters (the first from the second last):

…tears came to Jill’s eyes. Their quest had been worth all the pains it cost.

“Puddleglum,” said Jill, “You’re a regular old humbug. You sound as doleful as a funeral and I believe you’re perfectly happy. And you talk as if you were afraid of everything, when you’re really as brave as - as a lion”.
   “Now speaking of funerals,” began Puddleglum, but Jill, who heard the centaurs tapping with their hooves behind her, surprised him very much by flinging her arms around his thin neck and kissing his muddy-looking face, while Eustace wrung his hand…
   The marshwiggle, sinking back on his bed, remarked to himself, “Well I wouldn’t have dreamt of her doing that. Even though I am a good-looking chap.”

“I have come,” said a deep voice behind them…
   And she wanted to say, “I’m sorry,” but she could not speak…

“Think of that no more. I will not always be scolding. You have done the work for which I sent you into Narnia.”

Even the Lion wept: great Lion-tears, each tear more precious than the Earth would be if it was a single solid diamond.

After that, the Head’s friends saw that the Head was no use as a Head, so they got her made an inspector to interfere with other Heads. And when they found she wasn’t much good even at that, they got her into Parliament where she lived happily ever after.

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