Did Susan cheat?

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Did Susan cheat?

Postby Glumpuddle » Jul 13, 2016 1:52 pm

Susan defeated Trumpkin in an archery competition in Prince Caspian... but did she cheat by using superior bow?

Father Christmas said the bow would "not easily miss." And that's all he said. What did he mean by that? Is the bow magical? Did this give Susan an unfair advantage?

From Lewis' description of the competition, it seems like Susan didn't win by much.

Someone on the Into the Wardrobe Facebook page posted this question, and now I can't get it out of my head. I have my own thoughts, but I'll save them for later. :)
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Re: Did Susan cheat?

Postby narnia fan 7 » Jul 14, 2016 10:51 am

That's a interesting question, I have always assumed that her bow was magic because whan Father Christmas gives it to her he says that the bow is only for when she is in "great need" and as you mentioned that it "does not easily miss." so I've always thought that sense Susan was someone who has likely never used a bow before she would have an advantage if she was in danger.

So if the bow is magic I guess that would be cheating,unless beating Trumpkin was a great need because they were trying to prove to him that they were the Kings and Queens of old.
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Re: Did Susan cheat?

Postby DiGoRyKiRkE » Jul 14, 2016 3:51 pm

By that argument, Lucy's knife (which she oddly enough, never used throughout the entire series) was also magical, as she was told to only use it in great need.

I had honestly never thought of this question before. . . but honestly, I have to think "does it matter in the end?" Because the tournament with Trumpkin was meant to show that the Pevensies were who they said they were. . . And a magical bow could do that just as well as a highly skilled young archer could.
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Re: Did Susan cheat?

Postby aileth » Jul 14, 2016 5:16 pm

It is an interesting question, whether she "cheated" or not, but I think not, for several reasons.

Ask this question: Did Edmund cheat when he won the sword match? After all, although he didn't have a magic sword, he did have the advantage of about 24 hours of Narnian air, restoring him to his kingly powers. He would have looked like an inexperienced boy to Trumpkin. So you could imply that he cheated.

Queen Susan was known for her prowess in archery. I don't think that was all from a "magic" bow (if indeed it was magic); she had practised, and she was good at it. The others knew it, too--that's why they let her try.

Of course, you could argue that she had a superior weapon. Perhaps so, perhaps not. But if superiority of equipment implies unfair advantage--well, that happens all the time. Don't forget, either, that Trumpkin's bow came from the armoury itself, and I doubt that they would have kept anything less than the best dwarfish workmanship in there.

Trumpkin himself commended her skill, even when Susan tried to downplay her own success. He certainly didn't think any part of the contest was unfair.
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Re: Did Susan cheat?

Postby Meltintalle » Jul 15, 2016 9:00 am

Father Christmas said the bow would "not easily miss." And that's all he said. What did he mean by that? Is the bow magical?


He was giving it to an inexperienced archer at that point, who would appreciate the mental encouragement. This being Narnia, that could translate into an enchantment to make the arrow hit the target as intended, but my feeling is that Susan's Horn and Lucy's Cordial are the items with the unusual properties and the weapons were more symbolic of the children's position as heirs to the throne of Cair Paravel.
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Re: Did Susan cheat?

Postby The Rose-Tree Dryad » Jul 15, 2016 12:08 pm

I don't think I would have disqualified her. The competition wasn't so much about who was the superior archer as it was whether or not the children were the great warriors described in ancient myth. Any reputation that Queen Susan the Gentle had as a great archer would have been closely entwined with that legendary bow, gifted by Father Christmas. She was competing to prove her identity and tactical ability, and the bow had always been a part of that. That doesn't seem like cheating to me.
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Re: Did Susan cheat?

Postby Lasaraleen Tarkheena » Jul 16, 2016 9:24 pm

Hmm...a couple of things still make me hesitate.

1) The competition wasn't actually trying to prove that the Pevensies were who they said they were; Trumpkin believed that already. Their goal was to show Trumpkin that, despite their ages, they could be helpful in a war. Using a bow that "does not easily miss" might have helped Susan prove her identity, but it wouldn't help prove that she's a good archer.

2) Even if the bow is not fully magical, "It does not easily miss" is a serious claim. If you went to a racetrack with a car that "does not easily lose," I wouldn't necessarily call it magical, but I would still have a lot of questions about how exactly it helps you win and about the ethics of racing it.
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Re: Did Susan cheat?

Postby King_Erlian » Jul 18, 2016 1:21 am

I think there was some magic at work. To quote the book:
"Never mind," said Susan, "I've still got the bow." And she took it.

"Won't the string be perished, Su?" said Peter.

But whether by some magic in the air of the treasure chamber or not, the bow was still in working order.

Whether this was due to an enchantment on the bow itself, or whether the bow "picked up" some magic from the treasure chamber is open to debate.
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Re: Did Susan cheat?

Postby PhelanVelvel » Sep 16, 2016 8:47 pm

I think Father Christmas just meant that it's a top-notch bow. I don't think there's a magic on it that influences the archer's shot, it's just a master work. Even in the hands of a skilled archer, a poorly-crafted bow might miss. Susan's bow, in my opinion, is the sort of bow that won't succumb to the same mechanical issues other bows might--it's that well made. However, I don't think it helps an unskilled archer hit their mark. I believe Susan's skill is independent of the bow, but having a first-rate weapon doesn't hurt.

As for the string not perishing, I do ascribe that to magic. Perhaps the bow has a magic which protects it against decay and ensures it will always function like new. That, to me, seems sensible. I would imagine that calibre of weapon in a magical world could be blessed with a charm to keep it forever young. We don't know where Father Christmas got these crazy weapons, but it may be that Aslan himself blessed them and made them immortal, in a sense.
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