Susan and Narnia

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Susan and Narnia

Postby 220chrisTian » Feb 13, 2010 2:27 pm

On the old NarniaWeb, members discussed Susan vs Emeth in The Last Battle. Well, there's already an Emeth thread. So I decided to start a Susan one.

Susan is no-nonsense in LWW and PC. Faith seems to come harder to her. But as Queen Susan the Gentle she's still loyal to Narnia. In VDT, however, we learn that she prefers being grownup. And in LB, Susan "is no longer a friend of Narnia," being more interested in "nylons and lipstick and invitations." As a result of her faithlessness, she remains in England while her brothers and sister die on the train and enter Aslan's Country. :(

I discovered years ago what Susan and its variations mean. It's Hebrew for "lily" [shuwshan]. But a few days ago, I discovered that the Hebrew root for that word is suws, which means "to exult, rejoice, display joy." What is the significance? Shuwshan also means a "straight trumpet." Remember what an Easter lily looks like? Jesus Christ is the "lily of the valleys" [Song of Solomon 2:1]. He arose on Easter morning. And He is the cause of our joy! For me, this is the saddest part of Susan's lack of faith in Aslan and Narnia. Her name holds so much promise. But she missed it! :((

So, why does Susan not enter Aslan's Country? Will she ever? And more importantly, what are the reasons for her faithlessness?

Discuss away! :)
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Re: Susan and Narnia

Postby Pattertwigs Pal » Feb 13, 2010 3:35 pm

Interesting information about Susan's name. I wonder if Lewis was aware of the meaning. I don't have much time right now so I can't say much, but I will be back later to say more. Of course the obvious reason why Susan didn't enter Aslan's Country is because she didn't die. I think there is hope that Susan will come around. She hasn't died yet, so she has been given the chance to mend her ways. Also, since the children's parents made it into Aslan's Country (the English part of it), I assume that they were Christian so Susan probably grew up going to church. At the current stage of her life, I'm not sure where is with that, but she has a lot in her favor.
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Re: Susan and Narnia

Postby daughter of the King » Feb 13, 2010 6:50 pm

My sister and I have actually had many conversations about Susan.

220chrisTian wrote:So, why does Susan not enter Aslan's Country? Will she ever? And more importantly, what are the reasons for her faithlessness?

Pattertwigs Pal wrote:Of course the obvious reason why Susan didn't enter Aslan's Country is because she didn't die.

So many people miss that point. Susan is not in Aslan's Country because she's still alive. Will she ever enter Aslan's Country? I like to think so. I have often thought that either the train wreck would send her back to Aslan, or she would be all the more eager to push Him away. But I think deep down inside her she remembers, and someday she'll return.

What are the reasons for her faithlessness? Susan always had a hard time believing that Narnia was real. And even when she was there she had a hard time accepting what was happening. Up until the children meet Mr. Beaver she keeps on saying "lets go home". And in PC she tells Lucy that she did believe deep down, but she wouldn't let herself. But I think this quote from Letters to Children shows a great deal more about her than just the Chronicles by themselves: She is left alive in this world at the end, having by then turned into a rather silly, conceited young woman. But there is plenty of time for her to mend, and perhaps she will get to Aslan's country in the end--in her own way. I think that whatever she had seen in Narnia she could (if she was the sort that wanted to) persuade herself, as she grew up, that it was "all nonsense."
And this one: Peter gets back to Narnia.....I am afraid Susan does not. Haven't you noticed in the two you have read that she is rather fond of being too grownup. I am sorry to say that side of her got stronger and she forgot about Narnia.
Susan stopped believing in Narnia because she wanted to. She persuaded herself that Narnia and Aslan were nonsense. I don't think it was being told that she would never go back though, I think Peter says something to the effect that leaving Narnia was not as hard as he imagined it would be. I would think Susan felt the same way as Peter.

By the way, there is a discussion about Susan in Talk About Narnia. I don't remember where the conversation left off, but there were several interesting thoughts floating around.
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Re: Susan and Narnia

Postby Aravis Narnia » Feb 14, 2010 6:39 pm

I think Susan got swayed too much by worldly things that held quick allure and thus forgot about Narnia and other truly important things. I do not think she was like that from the beginning- or that C.S. Lewis intended her to be like that from day one. However, he did want to point out what could happen if you forgot what was truly important.

I do not know if that was the reason why C.S. Lewis picked this name for this character. I suspect it simply was a popular name at the time.
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Re: Susan and Narnia

Postby Dr Elwin Ransom » Feb 15, 2010 12:39 pm

Without knowing Lewis's motivations, I agree with Aravis -- I do not think her name has an particular significance to the story. But it's interesting trivia about the name's meaning, nonetheless.

daughter of the King, thanks for posting that letter excerpt. And seeing as how Aslan said "once a king or queen in Narnia, always a king or queen in Narnia" -- well, if you turn that into a sort-of "theological" axiom that applies in that world, Susan will be back, just not yet.

I wonder if already Lewis has ideas (in the present-day Heaven) about how that might happen. (I do believe he will have confirmed by now that in this world, when the sovereign God saves someone, it's for keeps.)
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Re: Susan and Narnia

Postby 220chrisTian » Feb 15, 2010 2:23 pm

@Aravis: I don't know why Lewis picked the name Susan. I don't know if it adds any meaning to the series or not. But I realized Saturday night that "Lucy" means light ... how appropriate. "Peter" means rock [well, little stone]. As the oldest, he becomes High King. "Edmund" means wealth/protection. I'm not sure if that's significant. "Jill" means girl/sweetheart/youthful. "Eustace" means fruitful. I don't know why Lewis picked any of these names. But Lucy and Peter seem to have the most significance for the stories. :)

Aravis wrote:I think Susan got swayed too much by worldly things that held quick allure and thus forgot about Narnia and other truly important things. I do not think she was like that from the beginning- or that C.S. Lewis intended her to be like that from day one. However, he did want to point out what could happen if you forgot what was truly important.

daughter wrote:Susan always had a hard time believing that Narnia was real. And even when she was there she had a hard time accepting what was happening. Up until the children meet Mr. Beaver she keeps on saying "lets go home". And in PC she tells Lucy that she did believe deep down, but she wouldn't let herself. ... Susan stopped believing in Narnia because she wanted to. She persuaded herself that Narnia and Aslan were nonsense.

I also think Susan was swayed by worldly things. But why not Peter? After Prince Caspian, he didn't return to Narnia either. Did age or gender, or both, play a factor in Susan's wandering away? This is what bothers me. Why did she have problems believing Narnia and Aslan were real? Susan and Lucy were the only Aslan followers who watched him die. She was there when he came back to life. She rode on his back to the white witch's castle. Susan was so close to Aslan! Yet, Lucy remained faithful and Susan didn't. So what happened? What was in her personality and character that allowed her to drift away? :-s

@daughter & Pattertwig: I know Susan didn't die. I know it's not over for her yet. I'm really more interested in the why and how of her drifting away in the books, of her not being on the train, etc. Aslan knew she wasn't on it. :(

daughter wrote:I have often thought that either the train wreck would send her back to Aslan, or she would be all the more eager to push Him away. But I think deep down inside her she remembers, and someday she'll return.
Interesting. But there's always hope as long as Susan is alive. :)

@daughter: thanks for quoting the Lewis letters. I'm familiar with them. :ymhug:
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Re: Susan and Narnia

Postby Pattertwigs Pal » Feb 15, 2010 6:58 pm

As I promised I’m back. :D (Although I’m cheating a little bit and posting some things from the reading group on the last forum. :-$ (shown in pink))
2) Susan refers to Narnia as 'funny games we used to play when we were children.' What do you think she means by this?
I think she has (or is trying) convinced herself that Narnia was just made-up. At that point in her life, the concept of Narnia does not fit. To many people the idea of other worlds seems childish, and Susan does not want to be childish. She is trying to make herself seem grown-up by distinguishing between when she was younger and perhaps by trying to make the others seem childish in comparison to herself.
3) Was there any hint in the other Chronicles of Susan’s focus eventually changing from Narnia to 'nylons', etc.?
There isn’t so much a hint that Susan’s focus will change specifically to “nylons” or other vain items as much as a hint that she is likely to turn away from Narnia for other reasons. She was inclined to try to take the safer or easier route. She wanted to go down the gorge because it was easier. She was unsure about exploring Narnia after hearing about Mr. Tumnus’s arrest and the White Witch and suggests going home. Likewise, she didn’t want to explore past the lamppost when they come upon it after ruling in Narnia because they all have a strange feeling about it. She tends to listen to her fears and let them dominate her. After they reach Aslan in PC, he tells her she “has listened to fears.” In England, it would be much easier for her to accept the ways of the crowd than to hold on to what she learned in Narnia. She might even fear not being accepted by others. Also, in PC, she talks very much like the a grown-up or at least pointing out that she is older than Lucy and hinting that Lucy is dreaming or seeing things. The Susan talked about in the Last Battle has convinced herself than Narnia was just made up. In PC, Lewis has Susan herself say, “I really believed it was him tonight, when you woke us up. I mean, deep down inside. Or I could have if I let myself.” Susan didn’t want to let herself believe Aslan was there, which could be taken as a hint that later she wouldn’t let herself believe Narnia was there.

I think Lewis wanted a character representing Christians who turned away from the faith they had as children as they grew up. If she continues without changing, she likely won’t reach Aslan’s country or if she does reach it, she might convince herself, like the dwarves, that she is really somewhere else.

220chrisTian wrote:I also think Susan was swayed by worldly things. But why not Peter? After Prince Caspian, he didn't return to Narnia either. Did age or gender, or both, play a factor in Susan's wandering away? This is what bothers me. Why did she have problems believing Narnia and Aslan were real? Susan and Lucy were the only Aslan followers who watched him die. She was there when he came back to life. She rode on his back to the white witch's castle. Susan was so close to Aslan! Yet, Lucy remained faithful and Susan didn't. So what happened? What was in her personality and character that allowed her to drift away? :-s
I talked about Susan a little bit above at number three. I don’t think age (unless you count “mental” age i.e. trying to be “grown-up”) or gender has anything to do with Susan’s wandering away. I think the following dialogue from the book can be helpful in this discussion (it is right after they come through the wardrobe):
“And now,” said Susan, “what do we do next?”
“Do?” said Peter, “why, go and explore the wood, of course.”
“Ugh!” said Susan … “it’s pretty cold. What about putting on some of these coats?”

Susan is the only one who asks what to do upon entering the wardrobe. When Lucy enters the wardrobe, she explores; when Edmond enters the wardrobe, he explores; and when they all enter the wardrobe, Peter assumes they will explore. Susan doesn’t know what to do and is the only one who even thinks of the coats. Lucy was always faithful to Narnia. She insisted that it existed even though the others didn’t believe her, and it wasn’t there when all four of them looked. After Susan has witnessed Aslan’s death and resurrection, she doesn’t want to talk about. Lucy thinks Edmund should know but Susan doesn’t think so. Susan and Lucy do a lot with together with Aslan but Susan really does not really have any alone time with Aslan. She is afraid to meet Aslan in PC because she doubted. Peter talks with Aslan in LWW when he is shown Cair Paravel and again about the battle plans. He is knighted by Aslan. Edmund has his talk with Aslan after he is rescued. Lucy meets Aslan in the woods (PC) and talks with him in the magician’s house.
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Re: Susan and Narnia

Postby waggawerewolf27 » Feb 16, 2010 2:00 pm

According to the Wikipedia articles connected to each of the Pevensie children, Peter was the only one whose name was always going to be in the stories. He is called Peter, perhaps because of the connection with the apostle Simon Peter, otherwise known as St Peter. Originally, the four Narnia children were Anne, Martin, Rose and Peter, with Peter the youngest member of the family.

Edmund's Wikipedia article likewise explains his Anglo-Saxon name and its connotations. Pevensie Castle is considered to be at the gateway of England, and quite close to the site of the Battle of Hastings in 1066. And it was the death of the Anglo-Saxon king, Edmund Ironside, possibly due to family treachery, which set in train the events which led up to that famous battle.

Lucy shares her first name with C.S.Lewis' goddaughter, Lucy Barfield, and also in another Internet article I came across a reference to Lucy of Narnia, a historic character. According to her Wiki article, Lucy's character was inspired by an actual evacuee, a very devout girl called June Flewett, who stayed with C.S.Lewis at the Kilns.

Susan is the only one whose name isn't explained very well. I agree that Susan is an Anglicized version of Susannah, an ancient Hebrew name, meaning lily. And C.S.Lewis might have chosen that name as a good replacement for the original Rose. Susan was a hugely popular first name for girls in the middle of the 20th century, and though it has faded out somewhat of late, the various other versions of the name have not. In the Middle East it is still popular as Zana or Souzan, among other forms.

I think that Susan's character was determined from the very start. She was an ordinary girl who was quite happy to stay at home, listening to the radio, in contrast to her siblings, who often complained she acted like she was their mother. Throughout LWW I notice that just about everything she said included asking if it was safe or to wish she was back at home. And a lot of things she saw in her first visit to Narnia were not safe at all, but extremely frightening, from the death of Aslan to her near marriage to Rabadash.

And so, in Prince Caspian, in the book, we see that she has been 'listening to fears', the main reason why she is the last of the Pevensies to see Aslan. No wonder then that she could pretend to herself that the land of Narnia wasn't real, and that they were all games they played as children. I get the impression that Susan was 'more like other grown up ladies', who wanted to get to the age of majority as quickly as possible for the freedom to do the things 'grown up ladies' normally do. Until they realise that adulthood also means having to fend for oneself, and also paying for the consequences of whatever misdeeds have been committed. This is something Susan should have learned in Narnia, where she had also seen Aslan's resurrection, and doubtless she would remember it by the end of her life. After all, grown up life in the real world can be as horrific, or worse, as any of the events she experienced in Narnia.

Neil Gaiman wrote a part explanation of what happened to Susan in a definitely adults only short story called the Problem of Susan. In this short story an elderly woman, whose first name was Susan, who has lost her siblings and parents in a train accident, explains that the reason she was left alive was to identify those who died. She explained how horribly traumatic dealing with such a train accident would be, and the mess such accidents make of people. And she said that after that incident, there was surprisingly little money left to survive on, let alone spend on lipstick, invitations and nylons. Although I agree with one of NarniaWeb's patrons who reviewed this otherwise disgusting story, I also doubt that Susan would have ever become a professor, albeit an unmarried one, as he portrayed her.

However, I agree with Neil Gaiman that Susan might have been reluctant to marry anyone, and I loved the way he featured her death, the Narnia stories on her bed table, and a photo album of her family nearby. Susan died in her sleep, dreaming she came into a room, where there was a party. Everyone was there who was ever important to her, including those people she thought she'd forgotten. Such as Aslan.

I wonder if anyone has a better idea of how Susan might have come back into Narnia?
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Re: Susan and Narnia

Postby 220chrisTian » Feb 18, 2010 4:04 pm

Pattertwig and wagga: thanks for the responses and outside info. :)

Pattertwig wrote:She was inclined to try to take the safer or easier route. ... She tends to listen to her fears and let them dominate her. After they reach Aslan in PC, he tells her she “has listened to fears.” In England, it would be much easier for her to accept the ways of the crowd than to hold on to what she learned in Narnia. She might even fear not being accepted by others. ... Susan and Lucy do a lot with together with Aslan but Susan really does not really have any alone time with Aslan. She is afraid to meet Aslan in PC because she doubted.

wagga wrote:She was an ordinary girl who was quite happy to stay at home, listening to the radio, in contrast to her siblings, who often complained she acted like she was their mother. Throughout LWW I notice that just about everything she said included asking if it was safe or to wish she was back at home. ... And so, in Prince Caspian, in the book, we see that she has been 'listening to fears', the main reason why she is the last of the Pevensies to see Aslan. ... adulthood also means having to fend for oneself, and also paying for the consequences of whatever misdeeds have been committed. This is something Susan should have learned in Narnia, where she had also seen Aslan's resurrection, and doubtless she would remember it by the end of her life. After all, grown up life in the real world can be as horrific, or worse, as any of the events she experienced in Narnia.

Thanks for these observations. It gives a new perspective to Susan's character, doesn't it? The wrong kind of fear can paralyze. Susan is more interested in physical than spiritual safety. And as a result, there's no safety for her in Aslan's Country, at least not at the close of The Last Battle. Writing to Pauline Bannister [Feb 19, 1960], who didn't like the exclusion of Susan from Aslan's Country, Lewis said, "I could not write that story myself. Not that I have no hope of Susan's ever getting to Aslan's country, but because I have a feeling that the story of her journey would be longer and more like a grown-up / novel than I wanted to write" (Collected Letters, Ed. Walter Hooper, vol. 3, 1135-36).

My middle name is Suzanne, a variation of Susan ... lily. I prize this identification. I guess it's partly why I love Song of Solomon. But I don't want to be like Susan in Narnia. :-s

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Re: Susan and Narnia

Postby waggawerewolf27 » Feb 20, 2010 1:34 am

It may help if, despite the very famous Susan B Anthony, you remember that, on the whole, Anglicized Susan tends to be more domesticated than the more French version, Suzanne, the version of the name which you say you share. ;) At least in children's fiction, other Susans have appeared children's books prior to C.S.Lewis' writings. For example, Arthur Ransome's 1930's children's series, starting with Swallows and Amazons, in which it was John Walker who was the captain of the Swallow, and Susan Walker was the First Mate, and responsible for the cooking etc.

I do think that C.S.Lewis was right about Susan's redemption being not really children's material, and agree it might form the basis of a long novel directed at adults. Neil Gaiman's short story on Susan certainly isn't for children, even though it is loosely based on LWW and LB, suggesting what might have happened. One of our members from the old forum, Mark (I forgot the rest of his user name) certainly is not the only one who takes a dim view of this piece of work.

Personally I think that Gaiman's solution to the Problem of Susan doesn't take into account all the books in which she appears, other than LWW and LB. There is nothing about Aslan's death and resurrection in his story, no mention of the return to Narnia in PC, and certainly not any reference to Susan's Tashbaan experiences, let alone what impelled her to even consider for one moment marriage with Rabadash, or what exactly about him allowed her to see the light in that Tashbaan room, in front of 'Shasta'. Although I agree that Susan was closest to Edmund, I remain a little skeptical that an older sister would so easily have followed his lead without good reason. Unless adult Susan had grown a bit too submissive to male domination.

Furthermore, there isn't any mention of what happened when Susan went to America. Basically all it is, is a story about a retired Professor, who woke up from a dream of a battlefield, where she is standing beside her sister Lucy. Everyone was quiet as they waited on the results of a parley between Aslan and the White Witch. Professor Susan Hastings, on waking, prepares for an interview with a journalist about her recent book on Children's fiction, all the while ruminating on her own life, having just learned in the paper that one of the men in her 1949 circle of friends has just passed away. It is the journalist's treatment of Susan, identifying her too closely with Susan Pevensie, and blaming that character's worldliness for her not going to Narnia which provides the action, and probably the heart attack which kills the Professor when at the end of the day she finally retires.

220ChrisTian wrote:I also think Susan was swayed by worldly things. But why not Peter? After Prince Caspian, he didn't return to Narnia either. Did age or gender, or both, play a factor in Susan's wandering away?


This is where the short account of what happens to Peter and Susan in VDT matters so much. Peter goes on to study with Professor Kirk, the 'old dear' who had the house where they all went through the wardrobe, whilst Edmund and Lucy go to stay with Eustace. Peter was to study for final examinations, and even in the current PC film, he suggested he was thinking of a medical career, where some sort of spirituality is an essential requirement.

Come to think about it, those Christmas presents Peter, Susan and Lucy got, consist each of one tool for defence and one tool for offence. Lucy's gifts were the only ones that implied the possibility of healing, since there is a lot of positive uses for daggers, such as in freeing people. Whereas Susan got the horn which summons help.

But Susan, who isn't much good at schoolwork and whom adults find 'grown-up', goes to America with Mr and Mrs Pevensie. Clearly Susan wasn't interested in a career of any sort, and catching up with schoolwork wasn't a consideration, either. After WW2, going to America (USA) was considered the height of 'cool' for most people around the world. Wouldn't it be then that Susan would have gone off the rails a bit?

Susan's neglect of schoolwork is also why I think the idea that she would have later become a professor somewhat ludicrous. Becoming a professor, even of children's literature, takes something like hard work and a lot of scholarship, which I don't think Susan Pevensie would ever be capable of, however her redemption occurred. What do you think?
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Re: Susan and Narnia

Postby Talking Rat » Feb 21, 2010 9:39 pm

220chrisTian wrote: Why did she have problems believing Narnia and Aslan were real? Susan and Lucy were the only Aslan followers who watched him die. She was there when he came back to life. She rode on his back to the white witch's castle. Susan was so close to Aslan! Yet, Lucy remained faithful and Susan didn't. So what happened? What was in her personality and character that allowed her to drift away? :-s


Yeah, it seems so strange that Susan would forget-- or try to forget-- a whole part of her life. How could she not remember? Like you said, she was there!

But, when you think about it, we're prone to the same thing. We've seen God work in our lives and other's lives, we've seen his power turn people completely around, we've read his word and heard him speak in it. We know God. And yet there are times when we doubt, and many of us know people who have forsaken their faith.

Sure, Susan could actually physically see Aslan and Narnia, but she couldn't once she left. Actually, back in England, she had less proof of Narnia than we do of God on an everyday basis.

Which brings me to something else: Aslan said that she and Peter had to find out who he was in their world. I wonder, did Susan look for him in her world? It seems to me that, considering her character, she would have given it some thought but not have pursued it very far. Maybe that was where she went wrong.
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Re: Susan and Narnia

Postby 220chrisTian » Feb 22, 2010 2:38 pm

@wagga: thanks for the info on Susan's name and Gaiman's story. I also don't think Susan would make a good professor. I have more faith in Edmund and Lucy. You mentioned Susan's horn. She didn't summon help in her world, did she? She never acted like she needed help. She never learned to depend on others in the spiritual and emotional realms. Too much independence. /:)

Talking Rat wrote:Sure, Susan could actually physically see Aslan and Narnia, but she couldn't once she left. Actually, back in England, she had less proof of Narnia than we do of God on an everyday basis.
So, you're saying she had to see to believe, like doubting Thomas? Out of sight, out of mind? :-s

Aslan said that she and Peter had to find out who he was in their world. I wonder, did Susan look for him in her world? It seems to me that, considering her character, she would have given it some thought but not have pursued it very far. Maybe that was where she went wrong.
Good point. I never thought about this before. Maybe she didn't want to.

Remember how everyone in Narnia says that Aslan isn't safe? And we've been discussing lately that Susan wants physical safety at all costs? I realized last week that physical safety is nothing. Spiritual safety is everything. Susan desired the trinkets of this world but not the spiritual gold of Narnia. :(
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Re: Susan and Narnia

Postby waggawerewolf27 » Feb 23, 2010 12:42 am

Talking Rat wrote:Sure, Susan could actually physically see Aslan and Narnia, but she couldn't once she left. Actually, back in England, she had less proof of Narnia than we do of God on an everyday basis.

Which brings me to something else: Aslan said that she and Peter had to find out who he was in their world. I wonder, did Susan look for him in her world? It seems to me that, considering her character, she would have given it some thought but not have pursued it very far. Maybe that was where she went wrong.


No, I don't think that we ever learn what Aslan told Susan and Peter. Unlike the conversation Aslan had with Eustace, Edmund and Lucy, we weren't there to hear what was said. We only have Susan and Peter's word for it, even in the book. But yes, I agree with you that 'in England she had less proof of Narnia than we do of God on an everyday basis'.

220CT wrote:You mentioned Susan's horn. She didn't summon help in her world, did she? She never acted like she needed help. She never learned to depend on others in the spiritual and emotional realms. Too much independence.


Odd! I wouldn't have said Susan had 'too much independence', even in the spiritual way, and especially in the emotional sense. Far from it, I thought she was too dependent on what she knew of England, what adults said, and of what she regarded as certainties, right from the beginning. May I explain?

1.In LWW, she didn't believe Lucy, full stop. In fact she never believes her baby sister Lucy, if she can help it. Furthermore, after Edmund's mean trick on Lucy, denying they had both been in Narnia, she even thought that Lucy was needing psychiatric help. When Susan and Peter went to see the Professor, it wasn't Peter who argued with the Professor. It was the 'non-scholastic' Susan, instead. Mind you, elder sisters are famous for despising younger sisters, especially younger sisters whose welfare they have been made responsible for.

2. Yes Susan accompanied Lucy and Aslan and witnessed something she should have paid more heed to. But I think that she couldn't see beyond safety and the safety strength brings. She saw Aslan killed and then resurrected, accompanying him and Lucy to the Witch's castle, the reviving of the statues and then back to the battle, where her brother Edmund lay dying, after smashing the White Witch's wand. I expect that turned her ideas of safety and strength upside down. Aslan did a lot, but when the Beavers said Aslan wasn't a tame lion, and that he wasn't safe, did Susan interpret that as being unreliable?

3. At the end of LWW we learn that she becomes 'Susan the Gentle', a beautiful queen in her own right (Queen regnant like Elizabeth 1 and Elizabeth 2 not Queen consort, like the Queen Mother who died in 2002). Kings sought her hand in marriage, though some also fancied Lucy. It isn't until HHB that we get the story of the most dangerous of her suitors, and why taking at face value a tall dark and handsome suitor who at first appears charming, falling in line with Susan's likely reading material, might not have been a good idea.

It was Tumnus, Edmund, and Shasta and friends who got her out of the Tashbaan mess, whilst Susan was sobbing and wringing her hands, in true uselessly dependent female stereotype fashion. More Mary Queen of Scots than Elizabeth 1st, I fear. By the way, did Aslan at any time appear to Susan in HHB? Of course not. Even though he was happy to appear to Edmund, Shasta, Aravis etc.

4. And then there was the return to Narnia. Again Susan doesn't believe Lucy, or that Aslan is around, though she believes the discomfort of her surroundings fast enough. She follows Peter, because he is older than her, without analysing whether he is right or not, and what is more, is more insistent on Peter's point of view than he is, himself. I agree that pride might play a part, but I think, too, she 'had been listening to fears'. At the end of PC she got a taste of a very nice party which she undoubtedly enjoyed. Bacchus wasn't safe either to be around. But Susan enjoyed being part of the crowd, even though, unlike Lucy, she may not have been particularly aware of the things Aslan was doing for others. And then she goes back to England.

5. Then she goes to America, which people in WW2 seemed to think of as a huge party by comparison with the rest of the world. Hollywood sometimes portrays America like that, also. Even during WW2, America tended to be less affected than other parts of the world. You could get nylons there, go to the movies, dress stylishly, and more. The rest of the world, as grateful as they were for American troops, often thought of their servicemen as 'Overpaid, oversexed and over here', whilst they, themselves, struggled with rationing or worse. I'm not surprised then that by 1949 Susan still finds it more exciting and enjoyable to go along with the crowd than reminiscing with her siblings. Maybe she even wanted to forget the discomforts of not only post war England but also of Narnia as well.

There are all sorts of independences. The best sort of independence is to be able to fend for oneself without expecting others to make the hard decisions, to understand the likely consequences of a course of action, to be able to minimise as far as possible whatever discomfort must be endured, to keep in mind what one's goals should be, to know what needs to be done for the group as a whole and to do it without needing reminders all the time. Except initially when she shot the Telmarine soldiers who held Trumpkin captive, or identified the chessman, or helped with the rowing, Susan never struck me as exercising any sort of independent courage. Unlike Jill, Aravis or even Lucy.

Thank you for your forbearance, 220CT :) . I agree that there is a lot to dislike in that piece Gaiman wrote, but I drew your attention to it because it does make some useful points. Rail disasters are undoubtedly traumatic. We had one such incident in 1977. Whatever Susan was up to when she lost her whole family she must have suffered immensely. Without her family to depend on, Susan might have well found life somewhat different to what she would have expected. Gone are her parents, her two brothers, even the sister she thought she was superior to. Perhaps in the end, there really was only One she could finally depend on.

By the way, Susan did use the horn to summon help at first, when she and Lucy were attacked by Fenris Ulf (Maugrim). Then the horn was used again to summon her. I'd love to think that at the end of her life, the horn sounds a third time, to summon her back to be with Aslan and her long lost family.
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Re: Susan and Narnia

Postby daughter of the King » Feb 23, 2010 10:05 am

waggawerewolf27 wrote: 220CT wrote:You mentioned Susan's horn. She didn't summon help in her world, did she? She never acted like she needed help. She never learned to depend on others in the spiritual and emotional realms. Too much independence.



Odd! I wouldn't have said Susan had 'too much independence', even in the spiritual way, and especially in the emotional sense. Far from it, I thought she was too dependent on what she knew of England, what adults said, and of what she regarded as certainties, right from the beginning.

Agreed, her problem was not independence, but insecurity. She was scared of anything she could not trust on sight.
waggawerewolf27 wrote:She saw Aslan killed and then resurrected, accompanying him and Lucy to the Witch's castle, the reviving of the statues and then back to the battle, where her brother Edmund lay dying, after smashing the White Witch's wand. I expect that turned her ideas of safety and strength upside down.

I hadn't thought of that, but it does make sense. It helps explain how Aslan's resurrection could so easily leave her mind.

220, I didn't mean that you did not know Susan had died. I've read too many reviews where the writer thought Susan was kept out of heaven. I was just making a general statement, it wasn't intended for you.
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Re: Susan and Narnia

Postby Talking Rat » Feb 23, 2010 2:45 pm

220chrisTian wrote:
Talking Rat wrote:Sure, Susan could actually physically see Aslan and Narnia, but she couldn't once she left. Actually, back in England, she had less proof of Narnia than we do of God on an everyday basis.
So, you're saying she had to see to believe, like doubting Thomas? Out of sight, out of mind? :-s


Yes. Although I think we do need to remember that she still did have what should have been enough proof-- just like Thomas, who should have known God's power and had faith that he could raise the dead.

Wagga -- oops, yes, you're right, that was Edmund and Lucy he said that too. :) But I think we could assume he said something similar to Peter and Susan.
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Re: Susan and Narnia

Postby 220chrisTian » Feb 24, 2010 3:22 pm

@wagga: I think you misunderstood my use of the word "independence." It's not independence vs. dependence. Why? Everyone is dependent on someone or something. Everyone needs some kind of help. None of us are truly independent, for that would make us gods unto ourselves. If we're dependent on one person, we're independent of another. Do you see what I mean? The question is, whom do we depend on? In whom do we place our faith and trust?

Susan was clearly independent of her brothers' and sister's judgment in and on Narnia. And she was independent of Aslan. Why? Because as daughter noted, Susan was insecure, "scared of anything she could not trust on sight." She had placed her faith and trust in what she could see, in the familiar, in what she thought was personal safety. As a result, Susan depended on the wrong things and people--as wagga stated, "on what she knew of England, what adults said, and of what she regarded as certainties."

wagga wrote:When the Beavers said Aslan wasn't a tame lion, and that he wasn't safe, did Susan interpret that as being unreliable?
I'm not sure how to respond to this. I don't think Susan saw Aslan as "unreliable," per se. And yet Aslan's being neither "tame" nor "safe" didn't sound very appealing to Susan, did it? Not in the end. Edmund ran away, only to return humbled. Susan was there initially, but in the end ran away. She never learned to trust Aslan, not really. Her insecurity made her put her faith in what she thought was a certainty but was really something else. The only true certainty was Aslan. But Susan refused to see that. :(

If Susan had trusted more in [and depended on] her siblings and Aslan, the result would have been personal character growth. She would have become a truly independent person -- but only by depending on Aslan. It would have been the independence wagga described:
to fend for oneself without expecting others to make the hard decisions, to understand the likely consequences of a course of action, to be able to minimise as far as possible whatever discomfort must be endured, to keep in mind what one's goals should be, to know what needs to be done for the group as a whole and to do it without needing reminders all the time.


It's the same with us, is it not? True spiritual, emotional, and moral independence comes only from depending on Christ. :)
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