The True Meaning of "Too Old for Narnia?"

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The True Meaning of "Too Old for Narnia?"

Postby wolfloversk » Jun 24, 2011 10:36 pm

I was listening to the FotF MN radio drama the other day and a sudden thought crossed my mind that temporarily confused me. Uncle Andrew, Queen Helen, and King Frank. When they were all clearly older than Peter in PC. So I started thinking how can the Pensevies be too old for Narnia if none of them were? Did Lewis forget this in MN? Or were those three just special exceptions?
Well after much thought I began to seriously doubt the first answer, the second one was plausible, but nowhere near bullet-proof. And besides none of the children were exactly the same age when they were told this. So was it kinda like an age range thing? Maybe, but it still didn't fit.
This all brings me to my current thought process. Could it be that by "old" Lewis meant rather than growing up physically, they were growing spiritually? Is is a symbol that they were maturing and that they were growing in Christ so they no longer needed Narnia because they had achieved the "very reason" they were brought there in the first place.
I'm beginning to think this is the answer. It explain's the children's age difference, and I think we can safely say Uncle Andrew was neither mature nor spiritually grown in Christ. And we don't really know much about the Cabby, or his Wife's spiritual side... Not to mention the Telmarine's ancestors- the pirates were probably Neither very spiritual or moral since they were pirates. So what do you think? Could that mean what he means bye "old"? Not age, but maturity and spirituality?
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Re: The True Meaning of "Too Old for Narnia?"

Postby waggawerewolf27 » Jun 24, 2011 11:21 pm

Now that is a very good interpretation but I don't think that spiritual maturity is quite the reason why the Pevensies might be 'too old for Narnia'. I think the answer might lie in another thread over in the general movies. That one where we discuss whether or not Narnia was an escape.

My reasons?

1.Uncle Andrew was already an 'old sinner' who had one point of view. He did become a little less selfish in his life afterwards, but it was his messing around with his godmother's fairy dust that got them all into Charn and into Narnia, in the first place. There is a moral dimension to this story of course. Just because something is there doesn't mean anyone has the right to use it or help themselves to it. But it was also clear Uncle Andrew never wanted to go back to Narnia.

2. Frank, in particular, was innocently dragged into Narnia. Yes he liked what he saw, but he would not have been willing to stay there without his wife, Nellie. Because of that Aslan summoned her, also. Then they both lived happily ever after in Narnia, which they might not have done in the reality of their struggles to survive in London.

As an aside, I always thought of London as something of a fairy tale in itself. Visiting it a couple of years ago was like a dream come true. And yes it is a terrific place to visit, but I doubt I would want to give up my home to live there.

3. Digory Kirk never went back to Narnia until he was an older man. But he never forgot the place. The same applies to Polly Plummer. They weren't even as old as the Pevensies when they were in Narnia, learning some very valuable lessons about doing things in the right way at the right time, but neither Digory nor Polly ever got to go back in real life.

4. In LWW the reality was horrible for the four Pevensie children to be evacuated from London, away from their parents, because of WW2. It was probably worst for Lucy, the youngest child, with a dismissive older sister and two older brothers, one who was apt to make fun of her. Their parents weren't around to supervise them.

They children did spend a long time in Narnia, in which they all learned they could cope quite well without their parents. During this time they may or may not have learned other lessons about life, Susan in particular. But though she went back to Narnia a second time, in PC, she was conspicuously absent from the LB lineup. She, the spiritually weakest of the Pevensies, was told at the end of PC, like Peter, that she would not be returning to Narnia.

It seems that she preferred the reality of her life in London.
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Re: The True Meaning of "Too Old for Narnia?"

Postby Evelyn » Jun 28, 2011 8:12 am

I think that both of you have good ideas of what this is about.

I think it might also have a bit to do with how and why they came. Digory, Polly, Uncle Andrew, King Frank and Queen Helen all popped in either by mistake or on accident. There was no purpose for them to come at all. After they came, though, then they had a job to do.

Now the Pevensies. I think Aslan called them in. How else would locial Susan and at the time unbelieving Peter get into Narnia? They were need to fulfill the prophesy. They were called in again by Susan's horn in PC. The same in LB, and SC and even VDT. So I think it has a little to do with why they came and how.
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Re: The True Meaning of "Too Old for Narnia?"

Postby daughter of the King » Jun 28, 2011 8:41 am

You've all brought up some interesting points, but I think one rather important one hasn't been made yet: the people who were told they couldn't return had been to Narnia more than once. Thus, being "too old" doesn't seem to apply to Frank, Helen, Uncle Andrew, or the Telmarines.

However, I think you're on the right track wolfy in saying it has more to do with spiritual maturity than physical maturity. Although wagga brought up a good point too: Susan. Was she spiritually mature?

I had a thought though that points in a slightly different direction. At the end of VDT, Aslan tells Edmund and Lucy that they must now grow attached to their own world. Perhaps, as they are now approaching those awkward adolescent and teenage years, Aslan did not want them to be pining for Narnia? Perhaps being "too old" does have something to do with physical maturity? The teenage years are often thought of as a sort of "finding yourself" time--defining who you are as a person and what you believe with increasingly less input from parents. As the Pevensies grew older, did they need to be able to define themselves outside of Narnia? On the other hand, Narnia is a part of them. Then again, Lucy says something to the affect of "It isn't Narnia, you know. It's you. How can we ever live without meeting you?" To which Aslan responds with that very famous line which I'm sure we all know so I won't quote it.

Is that where Susan went wrong? In trying to find herself outside of Narnia she also found herself outside of Aslan? While trying to live without the lesser, she rejected the greater?

I'm not sure if any of that made sense, or even if I personally agree with where my rambling thoughts took me. But it sounded interesting when it popped into my head.
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Re: The True Meaning of "Too Old for Narnia?"

Postby Dernhelm_of_Rohan » Aug 06, 2011 9:19 pm

Daughter, it may be a little rambling, but it's also very interesting. ;)

One thing in particular that you said struck me.

daughter of the King wrote:You've all brought up some interesting points, but I think one rather important one hasn't been made yet: the people who were told they couldn't return had been to Narnia more than once. Thus, being "too old" doesn't seem to apply to Frank, Helen, Uncle Andrew, or the Telmarines.


That's true, but Polly and Digory, though never told in the same words they wouldn't come back, were commanded by Aslan-

...take from this Uncle of yours his magic rings so that no one can use them again. ~ MN, Chap. 15: The End of This Story and the Beginning of All the Others, emphasis added


... which implies that they, too, will never return to Narnia. Therefore, I think it has less to do with how many times they visit, as opposed to what is planned for them in the Great Story. Simply put, the Pevensies, Eustace, Jill, Digory and Polly (although, as everyone pointed out, Susan ended up refusing her part by "no longer [being] a Friend of Narnia") were meant to go to Narnia to learn something. Like all lessons, it took some of them longer than the others. Some of them were more or less willing to accept it.

Lucy was right, it wasn't about Narnia. It was Aslan showing himself to them in a very different way, one that challenged all their preconceptions about reality, morals and what truly mattered.
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Re: The True Meaning of "Too Old for Narnia?"

Postby narnialuver » Nov 07, 2011 1:29 pm

I think that yes its not the physical age but the spiritual age and they all went to Narnia by mistake but the pevensies where sent there
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Re: The True Meaning of "Too Old for Narnia?"

Postby hansgeorg » Dec 19, 2011 6:44 am

wolfloversk wrote:I was listening to the FotF MN radio drama the other day and a sudden thought crossed my mind that temporarily confused me. Uncle Andrew, Queen Helen, and King Frank. When they were all clearly older than Peter in PC.


Pevensies and other children were getting old enough for Anglican confirmation. Frank and Helen might have not had access to the Eucharist in London (what confession would that make them? Non-practising Catholics who did not know where the Catholic Church was in London comes to mind, but that does not figure for a cab driver, who would know London in and out) or rather, they might have already known Our Lord in this world.

Uncle Andrew very clearly had missed the Eucharistic life. Besides, he was not taken to Narnia for his own sake, rather for Digory's and Polly's.
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Re: The True Meaning of "Too Old for Narnia?"

Postby Princess Anna » Dec 22, 2011 4:42 pm

I think you all are making some very interesting points. :)

That said, I wanted to throw this thought out there...
If we're talking about spiritual maturity being the reason why one doesn't return, then why was it Lucy and Edmund that visited the most? I'd be inclined to think that those two were much more spiritually mature than Peter and Susan (Su, especially).

Basically, if you all are correct, it should have been the older two that got to visit more. The younger two wouldn't have needed it past the first time. They learned what they needed to.

Maybe I'm overthinking this, and maybe I have the wrong idea. But some things you guys said didn't add up for me. Thoughts?
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Re: The True Meaning of "Too Old for Narnia?"

Postby Nic5 » Dec 23, 2011 4:49 am

I think 'too old' relates to being on earth not in Narnia. At a certain earth age, the lessons able to be learnt in Narnia won't affect the spiritual life to be learnt on Earth, & these have to then be learnt on Earth. All the characters had different things to experience in Narnia that was best for them when back on Earth after they had passed a certain point - for they all had journeys on Earth to do also.

I don't think this type of thing can be judged in what the most important lessons were that to be learnt even if they might seem of lesser or greater importance in Narnia.

What is thought about some of the stories of the lessons in Narnia from film to book where they are totally new and different is another thing though. 8-x
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Re: The True Meaning of "Too Old for Narnia?"

Postby waggawerewolf27 » Dec 23, 2011 2:54 pm

Daughter of the King wrote:You've all brought up some interesting points, but I think one rather important one hasn't been made yet: the people who were told they couldn't return had been to Narnia more than once. Thus, being "too old" doesn't seem to apply to Frank, Helen, Uncle Andrew, or the Telmarines.


One thing all visitors to Narnia did have in common is that they all were in a crisis of some sort, even when the crisis was of their own making, and that they wandered into Narnia where their perceptions of themselves and the situation they were in, were going to be challenged big time. Take a look at all these examples.

1. The Telmarines were trying to escape from others of their company who wanted to murder them. They fell into Telmar, then invaded Narnia, and their descendants who did not want to stay in Caspian's Narnian renaissance, were brought back down to Earth in this era.

2. Frank and Strawberry were brought to Narnia along with the Witch, Uncle Andrew, Digory and Polly. On that occasion Digory and Polly were trying to get the Witch out of London where she was causing the sort of commotion nobody wants to have outside their front door. But Frank and Strawberry were the innocent bystanders living a most uncomfortable life, along with the summoned Nellie. The destruction of the hansom cab was also the destruction of Strawberry, Frank and Nellie's livelihood.

3. Digory and Polly were perhaps the most deliberate travellers to Narnia, since they had been messing around with Charn earlier. They dropped into Narnia by accident, but their travels to and from the Wood between the Worlds weren't accidental at all, were they? However, Digory, in particular, was definitely in crisis, being about to lose his mother, the situation which was the catalyst for Magician's Nephew. As were SC's Eustace and Jill, who were almost chased into Narnia by the Experiment House bullies, who were causing their particular crisis.

By the way, J.K.Rowling, in a library week speech, once compared libraries to this Wood between the Worlds, one of C.S.Lewis' most evocative images, since libraries, like good places of worship, are also quiet living places to read, to think, to learn new things, to escape from everyday realities, and also a chance to reexamine those realities, however frightening they might have become. Could it be that Narnia, itself, also serves a similar function? Especially as it is a good place to meet and interact with a loving and protective being who will assist when asked?

4. Uncle Andrew needed to be taught a sharp lesson about his ethical behaviour, and about messing around with things he didn't understand, including Jadis. That is regardless of whether or not he ever took communion, or ever would, a most unlikely proposition, seeing how selfish, worldly and materialistic he was. Don't you simply love that MN bit where Uncle Andrew ends up in an impromptu cage being lobbed with honey and nuts?

By the way, though Hansgeorg is right about 14 or 15 being the age in which children in the Anglican communion usually get confirmed, to take upon themselves the vows made for them at their christening, I don't think that age is some sort of Narnian cut-off point for Narnian visits and adventures, since obviously Uncle Andrew, the Telmarines etc were well beyond that age. Furthermore, London is so well endowed with places of worship of every creed and persuasion, both famous and humble, it is most unlikely that Frank or Helen or even Uncle Andrew could not find a suitable place, if they wanted to visit Mass or Holy Communion, in London, of all places in the world.

5. If you include Lucy's initial visit to Narnia, where she met Tumnus, and her second visit, during which Edmund met Jadis, Lucy had been to Narnia something like 5 times. The first three visits were occasioned by the four Pevensies being in the Professor's House due to the London evacuations, a crisis which would have affected Lucy the most, since before that point, she had never left home. In addition, Edmund, who had at least been to boarding school, had been adversely affected by that experience. Presumably, at that school, Peter hadn't bothered too much about his younger brother's welfare. Maybe it is no coincidence that the Pevensies' second visit to Narnia coincided with Lucy's travelling to boarding school for the first time. And that Lucy and Edmund's last visit to Narnia was when they were Eustace's unwelcome lodgers.

6. Even in LWW, Susan was the most practical and down-to-earth Pevensie. I suspect she was also the Pevensie least affected by the London evacuations, the one most prepared to 'leave home' and the one most ready to 'grow up'. She was the one who disbelieved Lucy the most in LWW, she was the last one to see Aslan in PC and the one whose somewhat adult concerns got the Pevensies into trouble in HHB. It should be of no surprise that Aslan would tell her that she was too old for a return trip to Narnia and that, when she got back to Earth, she remained down-to-Earth and eventually forgot about her Narnian experiences.

Maybe the real reason why the Pevensies were told they were too old to return to Narnia was because they had reached a stage of development at which it would be no longer appropriate for them to feel threatened by the prospect of 'leaving home', losing parents, being in strange places, and meeting hostile people, rather than due to their spiritual development.
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Re: The True Meaning of "Too Old for Narnia?"

Postby Nic5 » Dec 23, 2011 3:38 pm

The thing with Magician's Nephew though, is that the rings transported everytime they are used to world between the worlds, after that though, transportation to Narnia was on a seemingly far more random basis ;;)
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Re: The True Meaning of "Too Old for Narnia?"

Postby waggawerewolf27 » Dec 25, 2011 3:16 am

/:) Yes, Eustace on his second journey to Narnia did ask Aslan whether he and Jill could go to Narnia just before the Experiment House crowd started to chase them again. But just because they asked Aslan doesn't mean they had the least idea how they were going to get to Narnia, or what Aslan would do and where and when this would happen.

And yes, it was due to Uncle Andrew's rings that Digory and Polly went to the Wood between the Worlds. But once they were there, Digory and Polly did work them out convincingly, even remembering to mark the pool they would need to return to London. Those visits to and from the Wood between the worlds weren't random at all. Trying to escape from Jadis, they hadn't remembered to mark the Charn pool from which they emerged into the wood, and the entry to Narnia came about because Strawberry chose to drink water from that pool.

I wonder what would have happened if Eustace and Jill really had used those rings in LB. I've a feeling they would have been trying pool after pool to get back into Narnia.
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Re: The True Meaning of "Too Old for Narnia?"

Postby Lion's Emblem » Dec 28, 2011 10:16 pm

My thought was that it wasn't necessarily about being spiritually mature, but rather taking what was learned in Narnia and using it in "their own world". I believe that you can always grow in the spiritual sense, so it would be more about choosing to expand upon what is given in Narnia or leaving it (our gift of free will). This can especially be applied to Susan- since we don't know her final fate. Aslan has given her (and all who visit) what she needed from Narnia, now it's her choice on whether to take it further or not. I hope that makes sense.

I'm glad you brought this discussion up wolfloversk. Maybe it's silly, but reading the book growing up, I was always fearful that the "getting too old" was indeed in the literal sense. I was afraid that it meant that I too would grow too old for the Narnia tales (and I certainly didn't want that to happen). So, for me as well, reading Narnia as a starting point has given me the ability to grow in Christianity in the real world as all who visit Narnia do.
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Re: The True Meaning of "Too Old for Narnia?"

Postby Gilby's Angel » Dec 29, 2011 3:08 pm

While Lewis was emphatic that The Chronicles was not an allegory, there are obviously portions that clearly parallel Christian theology. For me, the issue of the children being 'too old' is one of those parallels. While all the children in The Chronicles conform to the following model, the Pevensies portray the symbolism the clearest. Lucy is the child who visits Narnia the most. Why? What is it about Lucy that makes her different from all the other children? Answer--her age. She is the youngest, chronologically, emotionally, psychologically, developmentally. Because of her youth, she has the most child-like view of her world. And, that means she has more innocent trust and more pure faith than the other children. She never questions the reality of Narnia or the reality of Aslan. She never waivers in her faith in Aslan's goodness or in his ability to 'work all to good for those who trust in him and are called to his purpose'. Susan and Peter, on the other hand, are on the opposite end of the 'child' timeline. Each is on the verge of leaving childhood behind and entering young adulthood. Their loss of child-like innocense is what terminates their time in Narnia. The lessons Narnia has to teach no longer speak to them once they have entered adulthood. The fact that they have learned all they can does not mean that the lessons have had equal impact on them, however. Movie PC does an excellent job of portraying this, whether by accident or on purpose. It is clear that movie Peter finally realizes that faith in Aslan is where his focus must lie. We see this recognition in his contemplation of Aslan's image following the devastating defeat of the night raid and we see this in his willingness to lay down his life for Narnia in the dual with Miraz. Movie Susan, though, seems as equally sorry to be leaving Caspian as she is to be leaving Aslan--a foreshadowing of her 'no longer being a friend of Narnia' in The Last Battle.

Thus, though both Peter and Susan have experienced Narnia for the same amount of time and though both have been exposed to the lessons Narnia has to teach, the resulting impact on each is not the same. It seems that it's not what one learns in Nania that determines one's time there but one's openness to Narnia's message. Child-like innocense appears to be the determing factor for that openness. For me, the Biblical parallel seems obvious. Unless you become 'as a child'--are re-born--you can't have the faith necessary to trust Christ as your Savior. Through Lucy's character, C. S. Lewis tells us that those who are most innocent in their trust will have the greatest faith. Blessed are those who are pure in heart for they shall see God.

As for the adults who enter Nania, I never thought those characters particularly allegorical. Frank, perhaps could be seen in the same mold as many Biblical heroes--a person of humble beginnings who was chosen to do great things, in this case, begin the line of Narnian Kings and Queens. Uncle Andrew is perhaps, simply a character required to make the story and nothing more.

C. S. Lewis certainly gave us lots to think about! I always gain new insight from reading all the posts on NW!!
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Re: The True Meaning of "Too Old for Narnia?"

Postby hogglestock » Dec 30, 2011 10:53 pm

What about mental age? Or mindset? Narnia is a world that is basically in "fairy-tale" mode, and it's often assumed that children are the ones who can accept and engage in fairy tales. C.S. Lewis said something of the sort in the dedication to LWW and I think in other places, too. The Lucy he dedicated it to had grown beyond that stage by the time it was published, but older people like himself had learned to appreciate them once again.
So I think it could be that there came a certain point in the Pevensie' development when they were, or would soon be considered to be too old for fairy tales. At that point it was more appropriate for them to learn truths from their own world. So Susan was still involved in the Narnian world until she left it the last time and began to consider herself too old for fairy tales. At that point it ceased to become anything but a story to her because she didn't believe in it anymore.
Of course, the good news for us Narnia-lovers is that as long as we're not too old for fairy tales, we're not too old for Narnia, either. :)
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