Chapter 1: The Picture in the Bedroom

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Chapter 1: The Picture in the Bedroom

Postby Pattertwigs Pal » Jul 01, 2015 4:09 am

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1. In this chapter we hear a little bit about Mr. and Mrs. Pevensie as well as an update about Peter and Susan. What are your thoughts about them? Can we learn anything about them in these short descriptions?

2. What theory do you have as to how someone painted a Narnian Ship?

3. Why do you think it was Caspian who dived into the water and not a sailor?

4. Why was Eustace the last one of the children to be brought on board?

5. Lewis doesn't say whether Eustace can swim or not. Based on this chapter, do you think he can swim or not?

6. What, if anything, do you make of Lewis' descriptions of the Scrubbs and their differences from the Pevensies? Is this caricature or an unfair portrayal of a certain type of person, or is it merely poking fun?

7. Is Aunt Alberta's having a painting of a Narnian ship a coincidence or something more?

8. How does the opening line "There was a boy called Eustace Clarence Scrubb, and he almost deserved it" set the tone for the rest of the chapter?

9. Lewis provides several descriptions of the sorts of things Eustace likes and dislikes. Why do you think he does this? Do you have some of the same likes and dislikes as Eustace?

10. If this was your first time in Narnia, would you react the way Eustace does?

11. Eustace is described as a 'record stinker' which might be misunderstood these days! What must it have been like having him stay 'last year' ?

12. Which part of the description of the ship/painting appeals to you most?
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Re: Chapter 1: The Picture in the Bedroom

Postby Anhun » Jul 01, 2015 11:52 am

2/7: I'd like to think there is a story behind the painting, sort of like the wardrobe. Maybe some child during World War I found it's way into Narnia, went on a sea adventure, picking up various plants and such from islands along the way. After returning from Narnia, the child eventually became a painter, made paints out of the materials that they gathered, and produced the painting, never realizing that it was magical.

6:Lewis was definitely bagging on "modern" styles of parenting. The Scrubbs are clearly an extreme example, not the norm, but it wouldn't surprise me if their were a few families who raised their children that way.
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Re: Chapter 1: The Picture in the Bedroom

Postby waggawerewolf27 » Jul 03, 2015 3:44 am

1. In this chapter we hear a little bit about Mr. and Mrs. Pevensie as well as an update about Peter and Susan. What are your thoughts about them? Can we learn anything about them in these short descriptions?

Mr Pevensie getting sixteen weeks work in USA lecturing suggests to me he is in either a high position academically, has written a book of some sort, or has been sent to USA for some undisclosed reason we aren't told about. His wife goes wherever he goes and Susan, whose school results and behaviour do not justify her continuing at school, is being taken along for what might be a great opportunity for her to learn a bit about the world. But could it be that perhaps Mr & Mrs Pevensie don't trust Susan enough to let her loose by herself in UK, unlike the other three? Lucy and Edmund might be okay at the Scrubbs' place, and travelling to USA plus the expense of the others' school fees would stop them taking along the others anyway.

Peter seems to be about to finish his school career and maybe he has further studies at University in mind, so staying with Professor Kirke seems a good idea, because he must work hard in the summer holidays to pass exams. I think that if Mr Pevensie is an academic, himself, he would prefer Peter to do well, rather than disrupt his education with an overseas trip.

2. What theory do you have as to how someone painted a Narnian Ship?

The Dawn Treader does resemble Viking ships, some of which were sailed down the Volga to Constantinople where their crews ended up being made the Varangian Guard and thought rather well of by Byzantine emperors. Leif Eriksson also had similar ships to go to Iceland, Greenland and America in 1000 AD. I'd have said Chinese and South east Asian ships might have been just as likely but the Chinese do dragons differently to the way Vikings did dragons, and I am going by Pauline Baynes' illustrations. My theory is that the painter was simply painting such a ship, an idealised ship, possibly his/her dreamboat, romanticizing the likes of Leif Erikkson or his father, Erik the Red. Maybe Aslan was whispering sweet nothings in his/her ear.

3. Why do you think it was Caspian who dived into the water and not a sailor?

Apart from Reepicheep, Caspian was the only one on board who might possibly have recognised the people he saw in the water, and the only one with the authority to decide what to do about them apart from Drinian.

4. Why was Eustace the last one of the children to be brought on board?

Maybe he was splashing too much to be seen at first. And even Caspian couldn't possibly have known who Eustace was. And Eustace in this first chapter doesn't seem like he wanted to co-operate with anyone.

5. Lewis doesn't say whether Eustace can swim or not. Based on this chapter, do you think he can swim or not?

No, I don't think Eustace can swim, or even if he has had a few lessons he wouldn't swim very well. He doesn't come across as being very athletic at this stage and not the sort of person who willingly chooses to go swimming even on a fairly warm day.

6. What, if anything, do you make of Lewis' descriptions of the Scrubbs and their differences from the Pevensies? Is this caricature or an unfair portrayal of a certain type of person, or is it merely poking fun?

I suspect it could be all three. But there is no need to agree with me. Why I think it could be an unfair portrayal of a certain type of person is because it isn't made clear if the war is still on. Even immediately after WW2, food was still being rationed and even if Lucy and Edmund had been happy to be at the Scrubbs at that time, the food might not have been very nice anyway. Meat, of course, was one of the things rationed.

What seems to be suggested in this chapter is that whatever the rationing in force the Scrubbs were just as likely to be self-righteously pernickety about what should be eaten and what not. Dieting, you know. I'm tempted to think of one Wallis Simpson, a definite wartime figure, who said women can never be too rich or too thin. And judging from C.S.Lewis' career, I doubt he would have had much sympathy with that point of view. Or with someone he would have specifically disapproved of, however elegant and fashionable she was considered at the time. So, yes, it could have been a caricature or poking fun at fashionable people who were ostentatiously vegetarian or ostentatiously anything.

7. Is Aunt Alberta's having a painting of a Narnian ship a coincidence or something more?

Good question! It could have been a co-incidence that someone wanted to paint a ship that looked Narnian, and that someone close to Aunt Alberta saw the picture and bought it, thinking she might like it. Or maybe the picture was something bought a long time previously and given because the donor had little else to give that would look good enough. But since it was given to Aunt Alberta as a wedding present and she did not want to offend the person who gave it, perhaps not. Seascapes aren't everyone's cup of tea, of course. Was Aunt Alberta always as snooty as she is represented in this chapter? Or did she change after her marriage? Could the donor have been the Pevensies by any chance? It would have been another reason for her putting that picture in the spare bedroom where she wouldn't have to see it, herself.

8. How does the opening line "There was a boy called Eustace Clarence Scrubb, and he almost deserved it" set the tone for the rest of the chapter?

It seems like Eustace Clarence Scrubb has a name that is made fun of and he is such a little brat that one loses the sympathy he would otherwise get. In the rest of the chapter we are about to find out what sort of person he really is, that he is a puny unsportsmanlike sort of person who gets quite triumphant when he does better than someone else, is into a snide sort of bullying of guests and will not leave well alone. By the end of the chapter we are about to see him in a situation quite different from what he is familiar with and how well he copes with that situation. At this stage his behaviour is not unlike Edmund's behaviour at the beginning of LWW.
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Re: Chapter 1: The Picture in the Bedroom

Postby King_Erlian » Jul 03, 2015 5:06 am

Before answering any questions, I'd just like to mention that The Voyage Of The Dawn Treader was the first Narnia book I ever read, when I was six years old. So I found references back to The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe and especially Prince Caspian pretty confusing until I'd read them some months later!

1. In this chapter we hear a little bit about Mr. and Mrs. Pevensie as well as an update about Peter and Susan. What are your thoughts about them? Can we learn anything about them in these short descriptions?
It strikes me that Mr. and Mrs. Pevensie aren't all that close to their children. If it had been my parents, they would have moved mountains to take all their children with them, not just one - unless, of course, the children didn't want to go. I'm reminded of the short time when I attended a boarding school as a day pupil and some of the boarders resented the day pupils, even though we were far less well off financially, because we (apparently) had parents who cared for them and picked them up from school every day while they had been "dumped" there while their parents got on with their lives. Apologies to any former boarders who grew up in loving families, but I did witness some for whom the experience was anything but great.

Another thing: Lewis mentions them staying at Professor Kirke's house "long ago during the war years", implying many years had passed since the events of The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe. Yet we're told that a year passed in England between LWW and Prince Caspian, and a bit later in this book we discover that a year passed in England between PC and the present, making a total of just two years. I think this is another example of Lewis being careless with his arithmetic.

2. What theory do you have as to how someone painted a Narnian Ship?
What's curious is not just that it's a Narnian ship, but that it's this Narnian ship. Remember that the Telmarines, for the most part, feared the sea and so there wasn't much history of seafaring in Narnia under their rule. There's no reason to assume that the Dawn Treader looked anything like the Splendour Hyaline or any other Narnian ship from the Golden Age (or before). In recent times, the only Narnian ships we know of were those used by the Seven Lords, and even there we don't know what they were like. It could well be that the Dawn Treader was unique.

I think the clue comes in the fact that, whenever someone from our world spends any amount of time in Narnia, he or she finds no time at all has passed in our world when he/she returns. So I think it's not unreasonable to conclude that if someone from the Narnian world comes into our world and spends some time here, no time will pass in Narnia while they're here. What's in the painting is not just a picture of a ship, but a moment of Narnian-world time, frozen. Therefore I think that someone from Narnia, having seen the Dawn Treader at some point, came into our world for reasons unknown and painted the picture (possibly the reason they came into our world was to paint the picture). There's a springboard for a fan-fiction story!

3. Why do you think it was Caspian who dived into the water and not a sailor?
Caspian is a king who leads by example. He sees someone in danger and acts to help them.

4. Why was Eustace the last one of the children to be brought on board?
Probably because he was panicking in the water and struggling more as he was rescued, making his rescue more difficult.

5. Lewis doesn't say whether Eustace can swim or not. Based on this chapter, do you think he can swim or not?
Following from the last question, no, or maybe only a little bit, such as he was made to learn in swimming lessons at school. For him, swimming had no practical use - it wasn't enjoyable as a pastime in its own right, and as for getting out of danger if he fell into water, the best solution was not to go near water in the first place.

6. What, if anything, do you make of Lewis' descriptions of the Scrubbs and their differences from the Pevensies? Is this caricature or an unfair portrayal of a certain type of person, or is it merely poking fun?
This was something that annoyed me as a kid, because I felt some kinship with Eustace, and his parents were like my parents in a couple of ways - they didn't smoke for a start, and didn't drink much. These days being non-smokers would be seen as a good thing but I imagine that in the '50s it was considered a bit strange - I've read articles that suggest that in the '50s, people thought smoking was actually good for you. Perhaps the biggest indication that they were "odd" was that Eustace was brought up to call them by their first names and not "Mother" and "Father", or "Mum" and "Dad" (one thing the Walden film got wrong). But at least Eustace's parents were there for him, unlike the Pevensies'.

7. Is Aunt Alberta's having a painting of a Narnian ship a coincidence or something more?
Following the answer to question 2, if someone from Narnia had painted the picture then it stands to reason that it would somehow be "attracted" to Friends of Narnia, or they to it. Some sort of inter-dimensional magnetism.

8. How does the opening line "There was a boy called Eustace Clarence Scrubb, and he almost deserved it" set the tone for the rest of the chapter?
I think the line sets out the agenda for the whole book, that the central character is Eustace, more than Lucy, Edmund or Caspian. It's about his voyage, even more than the Dawn Treader's.

9. Lewis provides several descriptions of the sorts of things Eustace likes and dislikes. Why do you think he does this? Do you have some of the same likes and dislikes as Eustace?
I think Lewis makes Eustace's likes and dislikes pretty much the opposite of his own likes and dislikes, to show what a "record stinker" he is. And again, this grated with me as a child. I liked books of information, especially about anything to do with space (I was five and a half when Apollo 11 landed on the Moon, and believed then that by the year 2000 I'd be working in space). Unlike Eustace I didn't think that books like that and adventure stories were mutually exclusive (I was reading The Voyage Of The Dawn Treader, for goodness' sake!). But one of my favourite books was a children's encyclopaedia. I didn't like dead beetles pinned to pieces of card, but I wasn't a lover of live animals either (you couldn't have a conversation with them and they often smelled of poo). I was also a puny little person (now I'm a puny fat person) and I objected to Lewis' tone of derision - I couldn't help having the body I'd got.

10. If this was your first time in Narnia, would you react the way Eustace does?
Very likely. Although I can swim, suddenly finding myself in a rough, icy sea would be terrifying, and then hauled aboard a mediaeval-like ship, while my companions acted like it was the most normal thing in the world. I'd want to go back to something safe and familiar.

11. Eustace is described as a 'record stinker' which might be misunderstood these days! What must it have been like having him stay 'last year' ?
I can imagine that in someone else's house, he would have been perfectly polite to the adults and made himself popular with them. As the text says, he knew that it was easy to make someone's life a misery when you were in your own house and they were only visitors; so when he was the visitor, he would probably have been very careful not to put a foot wrong, at least while in the company of adults. What happens between children when adults aren't present, adults tend to turn a blind eye to.

12. Which part of the description of the ship/painting appeals to you most?
I think it's the mention of the colours - purple, blue, green. It makes it a very vivid picture.
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Re: Chapter 1: The Picture in the Bedroom

Postby waggawerewolf27 » Jul 03, 2015 5:19 pm

I had a bit of trouble with my PC, and by the time King Erlian posted I had given up and gone to bed. But I will finish now as I intended last night.

9. Lewis provides several descriptions of the sorts of things Eustace likes and dislikes. Why do you think he does this? Do you have some of the same likes and dislikes as Eustace?

I think the point of Lewis' descriptions of what Eustace liked and disliked was to illustrate that he had a lack of empathy towards living things, a lack of team spirit or any insight into how to get along with others. Possibly in a dim way the Scrubbs had agreed to mind Lucy and Edmund for that very reason, since Eustace as an only child had not been in a position to learn to share facilities equitably before going to boarding school. In this book we only learn a little about Eustace's boarding school life, so we don't know at this stage what impact that life has had on him. Being rather ordinary at sports also would not help him learn that it isn't whether you win or lose but how you play the game that is important, and how you co-operate with others. Especially if he was never picked as one of the team.

Yes, I've been in that position, myself, as an only child. And I see King Erlian agrees with me, that I could find factual things just as interesting as fairy tales. In my case it was history. We had this gorgeous radio program at the public school I attended after I left a boarding school in which we learned about characters like Leonidas, Joan of Arc, Leif Erikson, Alfred the Great, Robert the Bruce, William Wallace and the Venerable Bede, although my disliked boarding school 3rd class teacher had been telling us about some of these characters also. I'm afraid I also felt triumphant at topping the class, despite my loathing of maths, and was upset when reprimanded for doing so. At boarding school, I was told I was supposed to consider the feelings of my classmates who didn't do so well. Those were the days when girls were supposed to defer to boys at the other end of the school, which since all but two of my classmates were boys, I had signally failed to do by topping the class.

There were other things though I could never share with Eustace. Killing flies or insects simply for amusement wasn't my thing - there are disease carrying pests to be exterminated ASAP. We'd also been taught about the value of bees and ladybirds. Nor is his dislike of animals. The school cat never bullied me and was a good friendly companion. Along with others, I mourned his passing when the sports teacher (driving a car) ran over him.

10. If this was your first time in Narnia, would you react the way Eustace does?

Probably. If we go back to LWW, it was disconcerting for the others and cold as well. But I think I'd be more grateful than Eustace for being fished out of the water rather than be left to drown.

11. Eustace is described as a 'record stinker' which might be misunderstood these days! What must it have been like having him stay 'last year' ?

Do you know, for all the times I've read VDT, since 1958, I've never really taken in this bit? The implication is that he went to stay with the Pevensies and did not make a good impression on Lucy and Edmund, who were a bit more outgoing, however nice they tried to be to him.

12. Which part of the description of the ship/painting appeals to you most?

The description of the water. It takes a clever artist to do that, and sometimes waves are drawn rather stylistically.

EDIT evening 4 July 2015 AEST (Sydney) time. Now I'd like to comment on something King Erlian said in his post above:

King Erlian wrote:It strikes me that Mr. and Mrs. Pevensie aren't all that close to their children. If it had been my parents, they would have moved mountains to take all their children with them, not just one - unless, of course, the children didn't want to go. I'm reminded of the short time when I attended a boarding school as a day pupil and some of the boarders resented the day pupils, even though we were far less well off financially, because we (apparently) had parents who cared for them...


Yes I can see what you mean and you wouldn't be the only one who might have come to that conclusion. But I don't think it was the case here. Lucy and Edmund were older than they were when at the outbreak of WW2 they were evacuated to Professor Kirke's due to expected air raids over London. And that was not due to parental uncaring. We don't know what the Pevensies were really doing at this stage, only that their father had gotten a sixteen week job lecturing in USA and that for that amount of time it was hardly worthwhile shifting the whole household to America with them, especially if they wanted to return. And it was at a bad time for Peter, in particular.

There was also a fair bit of disruption to children's education generally as well as their families' lives during WW2. Schools were forced to close down. A boarding school I went to after WW2 had been made a military hospital during the war. Others in UK could have been bombed. So Peter might very well still have some catching up to do, and would have preferred to take advantage of the opportunity Professor Kirk provided. I'm sure Peter definitely thought his education and passing that all important exam was far more important than a trip to USA and, being older, didn't mind staying with Professor Kirk. I'm not at all sure that Lucy and Edmund would have felt so hard done by if they were staying with Professor Kirk also. But unfortunately, Professor Kirk "had somehow become poor" so he wouldn't have had the room he had in his old house so couldn't take Lucy and Edmund, something he might otherwise have been happy to do. Or perhaps it was just that Peter needed to keep his mind on his work.

I think it more likely that Lucy and Edmund felt like second-class citizens in the Scrubb household which doubtlessly is what Eustace intended them to feel. And perhaps this, too, explains why boarders like to pull rank on their fellow day students.
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Re: Chapter 1: The Picture in the Bedroom

Postby Anhun » Jul 07, 2015 7:22 am

Peter was working very hard for an exam . . .It would have cost too much to take the other three all to America, and Susan had gone.


This suggests to me that Peter was never even considered for the trip. It wasn't that his parents chose to leave him behind, it was that he was too busy to join them. As for the other three, if you can't afford it, you can't afford it. Now, when I was a kid, if my parents were planning a trip purely as a vacation, they would make a point of not planning anything too expensive to include the whole family, but this wasn't a vacation trip, it was a professional tour. When my dad went away on business trips, he never took all of us, and sometimes took none of us. That being said, there's almost nothing in the Chronicles to indicate a close relationship between the Pevensie children and their parents.

I've read articles that suggest that in the '50s, people thought smoking was actually good for you


The British Doctors' Study didn't prove the connection between smoking and lung cancer until 1956, but there was a vague awareness that it was bad for your breathing for years before that. In the 1944 movie "30 Seconds over Tokyo" Van Johnson refers to cigarettes as coffin nails. It was common chiefly because it was considered "cool" and the movie stars did it.

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Re: Chapter 1: The Picture in the Bedroom

Postby daughter of the King » Jul 07, 2015 12:39 pm

One particular part of this chapter always stuck out to me. Thanks to Eustace's limerick, I've never forgotten how to identify an assonance. ;))

In this chapter we hear a little bit about Mr. and Mrs. Pevensie as well as an update about Peter and Susan. What are your thoughts about them? Can we learn anything about them in these short descriptions?
It always made sense to me that only Susan went along with the Pevensie parents. It was a lecture series not a family vacation. There would probably have been a lot of mingling and networking, and Edmund and Lucy were considered to be too young to not get bored while the grown-ups were talking. And if Mr. Pevensie was in academia, that might have put even more pressure on Peter to do well on his exams.

How does the opening line "There was a boy called Eustace Clarence Scrubb, and he almost deserved it" set the tone for the rest of the chapter?
Eustace Clarence Scrubb is the sort of name that is easy to make fun of. The rest of the chapter emphasizes how dreadfully annoying Eustace can be and why other people might dislike him.

Lewis provides several descriptions of the sorts of things Eustace likes and dislikes. Why do you think he does this? Do you have some of the same likes and dislikes as Eustace? I don't remember why, but the first time I read the book I got the impression that Eustace had very little imagination. He had none of the sense of wonder or adventure that seemed so critical to my ten-year-old self. I liked factual books, if they were about ballet (I took lessons for five years), or something else relevant to my life (Such as when the King Tut exhibit came to the city museum and I read a bunch of books about Egypt, pyramids, and mummies). I remember not caring much about whether or not Eustace was physically puny, but I did care that he would probably have made fun of me for reading Peter Pan six or seven times in one year.

Which part of the description of the ship/painting appeals to you most? The purple sail. Large quantities of purple material always seemed more rich and fantastical than other colors to me.
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Re: Chapter 1: The Picture in the Bedroom

Postby waggawerewolf27 » Jul 08, 2015 4:34 am

In our discussions of VDT so far, I can think of at least one debating topic we could consider somewhere along the way: Were Eustace's parents really "there" for him? And in what ways were the Pevensies were not close to their children?

King_Erlian wrote:This was something that annoyed me as a kid, because I felt some kinship with Eustace, and his parents were like my parents in a couple of ways - they didn't smoke for a start, and didn't drink much. These days being non-smokers would be seen as a good thing but I imagine that in the '50s it was considered a bit strange - I've read articles that suggest that in the '50s, people thought smoking was actually good for you.


Yes you are right. There has been a seismic change to tobacco smoking since WW1, when Salvation Army officers (according to my grandmother) were known to distribute cigarettes to soldiers returning from the battlefield to steady their nerves. Cigarettes and smoking have not only enjoyed huge public acceptance, but they were also a form of currency during WW2, in particular, and still are, in particular, in prisons. There was a riot in a Victorian gaol (in the sense of locality), just because the prisoners were co-opted to give up smoking.

Anhun wrote:The British Doctors' Study didn't prove the connection between smoking and lung cancer until 1956, but there was a vague awareness that it was bad for your breathing for years before that. In the 1944 movie "30 Seconds over Tokyo" Van Johnson refers to cigarettes as coffin nails. It was common chiefly because it was considered "cool" and the movie stars did it.


Yes and you are right. I don't think it was until the seventies when it was found that the huge toll of smoking-related lung cancer cases were also masking mesothelioma cases from WW2 and later, that the connection between lung disease, asbestos mining, chemicals, nicotine and smoking really started to sink in. In London they are still removing asbestos from public buildings. It is adding huge costs to infrastructure and other building projects elsewhere, such as in Sydney.

Unfortunately, smoking in the corridors of power or in other places, was often a way to socialise with others. Not only because movie stars smoked on screen, especially as a metaphor for "passion", but also when in any group it was customary to offer cigarettes to the company to look "cool" and to allow the person offering such cigarettes permission to smoke also. At least one cigarette firm on the market, Ardath, based its marketing on the "get with the strength" message, later used by a privatised government bank. Others banked on snobbish acceptability, travel to prestigious destinations, eg Paris, Rome or New York, and getting invited to interesting social occasions.

I've met so many people who started to smoke as 15 year old school-leavers in the workforce, where they would come up against adult peer pressure from workmates. Often they were what in America, seems to be considered high school drop outs, and having become hooked over a long period, they were struggling with constant respiratory problems, tragedy in some cases, plus poor incomes and diminishing chances to avoid worse outcomes such as lung cancer, emphysema, stroke or heart trouble.

I've another question. Would those comments about Susan being very grown up for her age suggest she might have been trying out adult habits like smoking at school, which would have been frowned on even then?
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Re: Chapter 1: The Picture in the Bedroom

Postby Meltintalle » Jul 09, 2015 1:45 pm

7. Is Aunt Alberta's having a painting of a Narnian ship a coincidence or something more? I once saw a theory that it had been Polly Plummer who bestowed the painting, which is interesting when you stop to think about it, though I don't think there's any evidence one way or another. It might be one of the stories Lewis might have told if it had been interesting.

8. How does the opening line "There was a boy called Eustace Clarence Scrubb, and he almost deserved it" set the tone for the rest of the chapter? There's a scene in Silver Chair where someone miss-hears his name as Useless, which is pretty comical, but also makes it easy to see why you're nodding your head at the 'almost deserved it' part even before you're told why no one liked Eustace to begin with...

I looked up the name Eustace, because it's not one you tend to see anywhere else, and found it means "fruitful" and is the name of the martyr who saw a vision of a cross between the antlers of a stage while hunting.

wagga wrote:Would those comments about Susan being very grown up for her age suggest she might have been trying out adult habits like smoking at school, which would have been frowned on even then?
I never got the impression that Susan was the rebellious type; she wanted to be safe and secure. But I suppose it would depend on who her friends were and what they were doing.
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Re: Chapter 1: The Picture in the Bedroom

Postby waggawerewolf27 » Jul 15, 2015 12:03 am

Meltintalle wrote: I once saw a theory that it had been Polly Plummer who bestowed the painting, which is interesting when you stop to think about it, though I don't think there's any evidence one way or another. It might be one of the stories Lewis might have told if it had been interesting.


Now that is an interesting theory. Because I am getting a strong impression that that Mr Pevensie was an academic of some sort. Professor Kirke definitely was a senior academic, and very likely even Harold Scrubb might have been one as well. It might explain the sort of blue-stocking, avante-garde lifestyle of the Scrubbs, where every fashionable theory of what to eat and wear is adopted. I'm also willing to bet that Polly Plummer is also an academic, though not necessarily a professor, reaching that rank being an unusual accomplishment for women in those days. Or maybe she might have been a teacher or university tutor. If she was an academic, or an important colleague for Harold Scrubb's career, definitely Alberta would not want to offend her by disposing of the wedding present picture.

Meltintalle wrote: There's a scene in Silver ChairI looked up the name Eustace, because it's not one you tend to see anywhere else.


The name "Eustace" is associated most strongly with William the Conqueror. There were other Eustaces, one of them famous. But he also had a grandson of that name whose predeceasing his father, the recognised King Stephen, meant that the next king was Henry II Plantagenet, the son of the Empress Matilda, Henry I's only surviving child and heir. Although the Empress Matilda put up a spirited claim to the English throne, and should have been the next sovereign, the nobles of that time hadn't yet got their heads around the idea that a woman should rule in her own right.

I've also seen it mentioned somewhere that in the 1940's or thereabout, there was a British comic strip called Eustace the Useless. Poor Eustace. :

Meltintalle wrote:I never got the impression that Susan was the rebellious type; she wanted to be safe and secure. But I suppose it would depend on who her friends were and what they were doing.


Yes, most definitely, Susan would not be the rebellious type. It is precisely because she wanted to be safe and secure that she tended to "go with the strength" of public opinion, public habits etc, and could be a sucker for advertising and peer pressure. Public opinion and habits might also explain her being "no good at schoolwork" given the public attitude to what was generally expected of ladies and girls in the 1940's and 1950's. From both LWW and SC I would not describe Susan as the sort of person who needed to be "bad at schoolwork", just an unimaginative, practical sort of person, a bit of what used to be called 'a homebody'.

But then, as you say, a lot depended on who her friends were and what they were doing. I'd also think it depended on the school she was at, and whether or not they inspired girls to do their best, regardless of what life threw at them.
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Re: Chapter 1: The Picture in the Bedroom

Postby Meltintalle » Jul 16, 2015 9:11 am

... now I've got this mental image of an older Polly Plumber being a bit like Dorothy Sayers or one of her characters in Gaudy Night. Thanks, wagga, for fleshing out that little tidbit of speculation so nicely. B-)

wagga wrote:I've also seen it mentioned somewhere that in the 1940's or thereabout, there was a British comic strip called Eustace the Useless. Poor Eustace.

Poor Eustace, indeed.
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Re: Chapter 1: The Picture in the Bedroom

Postby Anhun » Jul 18, 2015 1:11 pm

Meltintalle wrote:
I never got the impression that Susan was the rebellious type; she wanted to be safe and secure. But I suppose it would depend on who her friends were and what they were doing.



Yes, most definitely, Susan would not be the rebellious type.


I always got the impression that Susan was a girly girl of the Queen Bee variety. She is popular and powerful, but she disdains book-learning because it does not contribute to her popularity.
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Re: Chapter 1: The Picture in the Bedroom

Postby Movie Aristotle » Nov 29, 2015 5:06 pm

Wow! What thoughtful answers to the questions so far!

1. In this chapter we hear a little bit about Mr. and Mrs. Pevensie as well as an update about Peter and Susan. What are your thoughts about them? Can we learn anything about them in these short descriptions?

I agree that Mr. Pevensie seems to be a professor or academic of some type.

Anhun wrote: As for the other three, if you can't afford it, you can't afford it. Now, when I was a kid, if my parents were planning a trip purely as a vacation, they would make a point of not planning anything too expensive to include the whole family, but this wasn't a vacation trip, it was a professional tour.


Another thing to keep in mind is that if their trip was for sixteen weeks, then the children's schooling would be partially interrupted by the trip to America. Lucy and Edmund would only need to stay at Harold and Alberta's for a short time before school started again, and Lewis already implied that the younger children were doing better in academics than Susan. This may also have been a factor in leaving the youngest two behind.

waggawerewolf27 wrote:But could it be that perhaps Mr & Mrs Pevensie don't trust Susan enough to let her loose by herself in UK, unlike the other three?


This is an interesting idea, and one I had never considered before.

waggawerewolf27 wrote:I've another question. Would those comments about Susan being very grown up for her age suggest she might have been trying out adult habits like smoking at school, which would have been frowned on even then?


I would hesitate to take the comments that far. Susan was a lady, even a queen, and she would behave as such.

Anhun wrote:I always got the impression that Susan was a girly girl of the Queen Bee variety. She is popular and powerful, but she disdains book-learning because it does not contribute to her popularity.


I think Susan was popular, but not necessarily powerful. I think she had a need to be liked (remember her gentleness and tenderheartedness), which drove her need to socialize. I don't think she did anything out of rebellion. I think she just wasn't concerned with studies, but was interested in entertaining and other traditional homemaker-type duties, which fits with the characteristics exhibited in previous books.

I attribute Susan's aforementioned maturity to her years in Narnia.

2. What theory do you have as to how someone painted a Narnian Ship?

King_Erlian wrote:Therefore I think that someone from Narnia, having seen the Dawn Treader at some point, came into our world for reasons unknown and painted the picture (possibly the reason they came into our world was to paint the picture).


Interesting story, although I don't think this is how Narnian time runs. The painting was a wedding present for Alberta, and Eustace is obviously several years old and presumably born after the wedding. Since the Pevensies were last in Narnia only a year ago and discovered Narnia only a year before that, it wouldn't be possible for someone from Narnia to have painted the actual Dawn Treader and given it to someone who gave it to Alberta, years prior to the Pevensies entering the wardrobe.

In other words, the timelines between England and Narnia may run independently, but they do not run backwards.

I have no theory of how someone painted the Dawn Treader other than Aslan's inspiration. But do you think the frame might've been made from apple wood?

3. Why do you think it was Caspian who dived into the water and not a sailor?

Good question. I like the theory that perhaps he recognized Edmund and Lucy. Or perhaps he was the first to notice them. Or maybe he was the only one free at the moment, everyone else having duties they were performing.

4. Why was Eustace the last one of the children to be brought on board?

I suspect Lucy was first because she was a lady. Perhaps Edmund came next because he was a king?

5. Lewis doesn't say whether Eustace can swim or not. Based on this chapter, do you think he can swim or not?

He clutched at someone else in a panic, which is the stereotypical (and dangerous) first move of a non-swimmer in over their head. Still, he managed to stay afloat long enough to be brought on board third, so maybe the panic was due more to the sudden magical transportation, rather than the plunge. I'd guess him to be a beginner.

6. What, if anything, do you make of Lewis' descriptions of the Scrubbs and their differences from the Pevensies? Is this caricature or an unfair portrayal of a certain type of person, or is it merely poking fun?

I simply think that Lewis is painting a picture of who the Scrubbs are. I doubt he was trying to say that every characteristic that the Scrubbs had were bad.

King_Erlian wrote:I was also a puny little person (now I'm a puny fat person) and I objected to Lewis' tone of derision - I couldn't help having the body I'd got.


If it sets your mind at ease, I never interpreted this passage as Lewis deriding "puny" people. Eustace's fault lay not in the fact that he was puny, but in that he was bossy. If Eustace were older than the Pevensies, he might have been bestowed some authority. If he were cleverer than the Pevensies, he might have been able to garner some authority. If he were stronger than the Pevensies, he might have been able to force some authority. But Lewis here is pointing out the ridiculousness of the situation, in that Eustace not only did not have the right to be bossy, he had no reason to be bossy. He was neither older, nor more clever, nor bigger, stronger, or more powerful. Why he thought he had the right to boss the Pevensies (beyond pure conceit) is a mystery. In fact, the only reason Eustace could bully the Pevensies was because they allowed it. If they had been a different sort of people, Eustace wouldn't have gotten away with it for long before being beat up or beat down. However, the Pevensies were more mature than that, and thus they simply put up with him. -No doubt, Eustace felt very superior in being "able" to "subject" his cousins.

7. Is Aunt Alberta's having a painting of a Narnian ship a coincidence or something more?

Obviously this is destiny.

8. How does the opening line "There was a boy called Eustace Clarence Scrubb, and he almost deserved it" set the tone for the rest of the chapter?

Lewis starts out with a bit of humor and a very strong statement about Eustace's character, and his name.

9. Lewis provides several descriptions of the sorts of things Eustace likes and dislikes. Why do you think he does this? Do you have some of the same likes and dislikes as Eustace?

Again, Lewis is painting a picture of Eustace. He likes some things which are normal, (animals, machines, etc.) but he also likes some things which he ought not, like bossing and bullying. I don't share much in common with Eustace at this point of the story. I do like animals, but I can't say that I care for dead beetles.

10. If this was your first time in Narnia, would you react the way Eustace does?

In many respects I might. I wouldn't care for the sudden and dramatic nature of the transport, but I wouldn't clutch at someone who is trying to swim for their life. I would be reviled by a large mouse, but might be a bit more courteous to it if I found out it could talk. I might be overcome with culture shock, and may wish to go home, but wouldn't cry like a toddler over it.

11. Eustace is described as a 'record stinker' which might be misunderstood these days! What must it have been like having him stay 'last year' ?

waggawerewolf27 wrote:Do you know, for all the times I've read VDT, since 1958, I've never really taken in this bit?


It's funny, because this part didn't stick out to me either until I read it this time. I doubt it was a pleasant experience for any of the children. "Last year" must have fallen in between LWW and PC, because they were just about to start the term in PC, and it seems VDT takes place during the next break.

Wouldn't it have been funny if the screenwriters had had the Pevensie children grumble about Eustace during the train station scene? :p That would have been a more welcome Easter egg than the "Jill Pole" comment at the end of Dawn Treader.

12. Which part of the description of the ship/painting appeals to you most?

Oddly enough, the painting of the Dawn Treader has never appealed to me. If I had gotten it for a wedding gift, I probably would have re-gifted it.
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Re: Chapter 1: The Picture in the Bedroom

Postby Glumpuddle » Feb 25, 2016 7:55 pm

3. I think the fact that Caspian jumped in says something about the kind of king he is. "The first in every desperate charge." He's a servant leader. He still has the humility Aslan observed at the end of PC. Totally opposite of Miraz, who gained power at the expense of others, including the 7 lords his nephew is now searching for.
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Re: Chapter 1: The Picture in the Bedroom

Postby Pattertwigs Pal » Jun 19, 2016 2:06 pm

1. In this chapter we hear a little bit about Mr. and Mrs. Pevensie as well as an update about Peter and Susan. What are your thoughts about them? Can we learn anything about them in these short descriptions?
Mr. Pevensie is very likely a professor or perhaps some kind of scientists or historian. Mrs. Pevensie has very likely been busy since she hasn’t had a holiday. Peter is working hard on his studies. Susan however does not seem to be doing much school work but rather working on being a socialite. They family seems to have some money but not a lot since they can’t afford to take all of the children. It seems that Mr. and Mrs. Pevensie could have handled the situation better. There seems to be a bias in Susan’s favor since she “would get far more out of the trip than the youngsters.” (emphasis mine). I wonder exactly what they expected her to get out of it. It makes sense that they would take Susan but they should have had more consideration for Edmund’s and Lucy’s feelings. Maybe explaining they might have a chance another time since they were younger and would be at home longer.
2. What theory do you have as to how someone painted a Narnian Ship?
There is absolutely no textual basis for this, but I have always thought that perhaps Polly painted it. She had been to Narnia and could have picked up on something Narnian or be more receptive to influences from Aslan.
Movie Aristotle wrote: But do you think the frame might've been made from apple wood?
I love that idea! It ties in nicely with my theory. Digory could have given some wood from the tree to Polly for a frame. She could have sold the picture. I guess she could have given it to Alberta but I am hard pressed to figure out how they would have known each other.

King_Erlian wrote: There's no reason to assume that the Dawn Treader looked anything like the Splendour Hyaline or any other Narnian ship from the Golden Age (or before).
It must have had some resemblance to other Narnian ships or to Narnia since Lucy and Edmund recognized it. Maybe Caspian found some descriptions of Narnian ships or hear about them from his nurse, the Pevensies or Doctor Cornelius.
3. Why do you think it was Caspian who dived into the water and not a sailor?
I suppose the sailors were busy manning the ship. Caspian might have not have given a sailor a chance to jump in. I would think the crew would want to keep their king safe!

4. Why was Eustace the last one of the children to be brought on board?
Lucy was first because she was the queen. I guess Edmund was next because he was a king but it would make more sense to me for Eustace to be before Edmund so Edmund could help with the howling Eustace.
5. Lewis doesn't say whether Eustace can swim or not. Based on this chapter, do you think he can swim or not?
It doesn’t seem that he can. He grabs Lucy and then Edmund has to grab him. If he can swim, panic has made him forget how.
Movie Aristotle wrote:Still, he managed to stay afloat long enough to be brought on board third, so maybe the panic was due more to the sudden magical transportation, rather than the plunge. I'd guess him to be a beginner.

That makes a lot of sense. I was wondering how he stayed afloat that long. It is possible the gave him a rope to hold on to or something but it is also possible he was able to tread water long enough.
6. What, if anything, do you make of Lewis' descriptions of the Scrubbs and their differences from the Pevensies? Is this caricature or an unfair portrayal of a certain type of person, or is it merely poking fun?
I think Lewis is setting up a clear contrast. I do not know enough about England and this time period to comment about the accuracy of his description. I can easily believe there are people like Lewis describes. I am rather curious about what was special about their underwear.
7. Is Aunt Alberta's having a painting of a Narnian ship a coincidence or something more?
No, I don’t think it is a coincidence. I think Aslan is behind it.

8. How does the opening line "There was a boy called Eustace Clarence Scrubb, and he almost deserved it" set the tone for the rest of the chapter?
We know right from the start that we aren’t going to like Eustace. It kind of starts it on a light note and warning note at the same time.

9. Lewis provides several descriptions of the sorts of things Eustace likes and dislikes. Why do you think he does this? Do you have some of the same likes and dislikes as Eustace?
Eustace’s character is an important part of the story. Lewis was setting him up to be a contrast to the Pevensies. I do not like beetles alive or pin to cards.
King_Erlian wrote: I liked books of information, especially about anything to do with space (I was five and a half when Apollo 11 landed on the Moon, and believed then that by the year 2000 I'd be working in space).
I think the specific examples are more important than the general category “books of information.” Books about space are popular for children. I think books about space are kinds of book of information that feeds imagination. Information books are popular with boys, but they are usually more exciting kinds of information such as books about space, dinosaurs, or cars. I am not sure what the appeal of grain elevators would be for him but I bet he liked to laugh at the children in the other books.

10. If this was your first time in Narnia, would you react the way Eustace does?
I certainly hope not! I think I would be scared but sensible enough not to panic. Insulting people is not my style.

11. Eustace is described as a 'record stinker' which might be misunderstood these days! What must it have been like having him stay 'last year' ?
It must have been very trying having him around. From what we see in this chapter, it is clear that Eustace does not make a good guest. I imagine the Pevensies talking about Narnia because they really wanted to be away from him. Apparently they did not take the professor’s advice not to talk about Narnia very much.
12. Which part of the description of the ship/painting appeals to you most?
The purple sail followed closely by how the ship seems so active.
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Re: Chapter 1: The Picture in the Bedroom

Postby aileth » Jul 11, 2016 11:38 pm

1. In this chapter we hear a little bit about Mr. and Mrs. Pevensie as well as an update about Peter and Susan. What are your thoughts about them? Can we learn anything about them in these short descriptions?
Makes me wonder what Peter was going in for? Entrance exam for Oxford? If he was surrounded by a family of academicians, it wouldn't be unreasonable to suppose so. Probably not Cambridge.

As for Susan, it was not uncommon for girls with no particular bent for education to drop out of school at about age 16. Following matriculation, (if they even went in for that) only those with yearnings for higher education (or wealthy parents) would stay on and enter the Sixth Form.

For the younger two, it would not have been considered unusual for them to have been parked somewhere for the holidays. Children were often sent home from India and spent all their holidays at school or with relatives, if there were any. So they might have been considered lucky by some, though under the circumstances....

2. What theory do you have as to how someone painted a Narnian Ship?
Definitely agree with wagga on this one, although the idea of Polly painting it suits the tidy, writing side of my mind. But did they have ships yet when she was there? My supposition was always that it was a painting of an English ship, rather than a Narnian ship. Wouldn't the ships of Narnia be modelled after the ones in our world? After all, there was the influence of King Frank, the Pevensies, and finally, the Telmarines.

If you skip ahead to Chapter II, take note where Lewis describes the size of the Dawn Treader, comparing it to the ships from the days of the Golden Age--cogs, dromonds, carracks and galleons. A quick search shows that these ships were all pre- to post-mediaeval ships, starting with cogs in Alexandria, and on to galleons in the 18th century.

3. Why do you think it was Caspian who dived into the water and not a sailor?
A good king is the first to lead into battle, or the first to dive overboard? He also seems somewhat impulsive--maybe he didn't want Drinian to tell him not to jump in.

4. Why was Eustace the last one of the children to be brought on board?
Premonitions among the crew?

5. Lewis doesn't say whether Eustace can swim or not. Based on this chapter, do you think he can swim or not?
He takes the typical action of a non-swimmer, or at least a very poor one:
Lewis wrote:"[he] clutched at her in a panic and down they both went...[Edmund] had caught the arms of the howling Eustace."
presumably to keep him from going under again, or else to keep him from drowning all of them. Swimming doesn't seem to be the sort of healthy activity that would feature in the Experiment House prospectus.

6. What, if anything, do you make of Lewis' descriptions of the Scrubbs and their differences from the Pevensies? Is this caricature or an unfair portrayal of a certain type of person, or is it merely poking fun?
He wasn't necessarily saying that any or all of those characteristics were bad or odd. Actually, he didn't even say outright that the combination was bad, although it is certainly implied. He was not a vegetarian, teetotaler or non-smoker himself--we aren't told if he wore special underwear, are we? (something to do with health benefits, I believe Twigs)--but it is more the aggregate of special qualities that raised the Scrubbs to a level superior to all their less enlightened acquaintances. That is what he is making fun of here, I think. Haven't you ever met people like that? Nowadays it is the "Organic, eco-friendly, fair trade, vegan, sustainable harvesting" crowd: whatever the fashionable buzz word happens to be. If the book had been written a decade or two later, they most likely would have been hippies.

7. Is Aunt Alberta's having a painting of a Narnian ship a coincidence or something more?
That would be Aslan's doing, I should think; the very fact that it was given by someone whom she daren't offend, thus saving the picture from premature disposal. For this reason, I wouldn't tend to think it was from the Pevensies, simply because the Scrubbs didn't seem too impressed with them. I wonder on which side the relationship lay? Her sister, his sister, her brother?

8. How does the opening line "There was a boy called Eustace Clarence Scrubb, and he almost deserved it" set the tone for the rest of the chapter?
You almost feel sorry for him--almost. Not that an awful name/combination of names makes it excusable to act like a beast. By no means. Perhaps the most telling line is "I can't tell you how his friends spoke to him, for he had none." Poor Eustace--he wouldn't have even recognized that this was a problem.

9. Lewis provides several descriptions of the sorts of things Eustace likes and dislikes. Why do you think he does this? Do you have some of the same likes and dislikes as Eustace?
Perhaps, King_Erlian, it was more the punyness of his soul than his actual physical stature? (Imagine, though, a hulking Eustace--he would have proved an uncomfortable adversary.) Lewis seems to be making fun of himself here--wasn't he a fairly short man?(EDIT to ADD: Not sure where I got that; according to his own words he was tall)--and of course, he didn't like his own name. Again, I don't think that Lewis was saying that there was anything wrong with the individual items. (Except perhaps the bug-sticking--British authors of the time seemed to have a decided aversion to hobbies that involved destruction of nature, e.g. Arthur Ransome's take on bird-nesting.) He didn't admire the stodginess of Eustace or his lack of imagination, which was brought out in more detail throughout the book. And anyone who had the poor taste to dislike the Pevensies? That says it all.

10. If this was your first time in Narnia, would you react the way Eustace does?
Not being a very adventurous person, I suspect that I wouldn't be too thrilled, especially if I had the feeling that I had been tricked into it somehow. Okay, hopefully not that badly, but I really do prefer to read about excitements, rather than have them happen in person.

11. Eustace is described as a 'record stinker' which might be misunderstood these days! What must it have been like having him stay 'last year'?
Enough to make them dread their stay this year. There's little doubt that he would have taken full advantage of "visitor's privilege" to get what he wanted--first and best of everything. Edmund and Lucy didn't seem to hope that he had improved since the previous year--and a vain hope it would have been!

12. Which part of the description of the ship/painting appeals to you most?
Different things stand out each time I read it; this time it was all the vivid colour of the ship and her surroundings, a sharp contrast to how the summer was shaping up for the younger Pevensies.

MA wrote:Oddly enough, the painting of the Dawn Treader has never appealed to me. If I had gotten it for a wedding gift, I probably would have re-gifted it.

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