Eustace and I

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Eustace and I

Postby Col Klink » Sep 03, 2018 4:45 pm

I love "The Voyage of the Dawn Treader" but I think Lewis might have failed at writing part of it. Because I'm supposed to really look down on Eustace but actually I agree with him rather than C.S. Lewis or the other characters.

Eustace was crying much harder than any boy of his age has a right to cry when nothing worse than a wetting has happened to him


I can't stand getting water in my nose or wearing wet clothes. I wouldn't surprised if I started crying under Eustace's circumstances too.


Rynelf returned with the spiced wine steaming in a flago and four silver cups...But Eustace made faces and spluttered and spart it out and was sick again and began to cry again


Both sides of my family can't hold alcohol. It makes us throw up.

E says we mustn't grumble because C himself is sharing it with us himself to make room for L. As if that didn't make it more crowded and far worse,


I'm with Eustace. Sharing a room with three people is a pain! What's so great about sleeping with Caspian? I'd be more impressed by meeting a king than Eustace is but that doesn't mean I want to be cooped up with one for who knows how long. If you take that attitude toward royalty, you'll end up like Ahoshta.

Unlike the crewmembers, Eustace never signed up for a dangerous journey. It's not fair for him to take it out on everyone else but I can't blame him for being on edge. Remember that guy who went overboard in the storm? And while we find out what happened to the seven lords, we never find out about their crew.

So has anything I've said won you over to the (very small) pro-Eustace crowd? Or do you have some counterarguments for me? :)
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Re: Eustace and I

Postby King_Erlian » Sep 04, 2018 1:07 am

The Voyage Of The Dawn Treader was the first Narnia book I read, at the age of 6, and of all the characters the one I felt the most kinship with was Eustace. Academically ahead of most of my peers, but small for my age and physically quite weak, I was the kid who was constantly being bullied (and since I didn't reach my adult height until I was 19, this continued right through high school). I didn't side with or help the bullies but I tended to internalise my rage at them. It was pointless telling adults about it because they would take no notice. And from as far back as I can remember, I was a pacifist - Lewis uses the word as if it were something awful. Though at least I didn't like dead animals pinned to pieces of card.

I thought it was a shame in a way that Eustace's conversion meant that he ended up buying in totally with the Narnian philosophy of (noble) war. It would be interesting to imagine a Eustace who was firmly a Friend of Narnia but who had held onto his pacifist principles.
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Re: Eustace and I

Postby aileth » Sep 05, 2018 3:47 pm

Quite enjoyed that take on the matter, Col. I don't think Lewis wanted his readers to hate Eustace, any more than he wanted us to hate Edmund in LWW. He tells it from Eustace's point of view so that we can sympathize with him, even when we know full well that he is behaving like a reprehensible beast. And we've all known people like that ourselves, (or *gasp* been one.) That's part of what makes this writing resonate so much.

Of course, there's nothing wrong with the individual dislikes you mention: being wet, feeling ill and nauseous, and feeling cramped for space. Even complaining about them is natural. Rather, it is Eustace's aggregate bad attitude that needed to be corrected, most particularly his selfishness. Mind you, if he had only been a little irritating, then the contrast after his undragoning wouldn't have been so dramatic.

All that said, I did like Eustace, even before he changed. But then, I didn't have to live with him in that state, either.

King_Erlian wrote:And from as far back as I can remember, I was a pacifist - Lewis uses the word as if it were something awful. Though at least I didn't like dead animals pinned to pieces of card.

I thought it was a shame in a way that Eustace's conversion meant that he ended up buying in totally with the Narnian philosophy of (noble) war. It would be interesting to imagine a Eustace who was firmly a Friend of Narnia but who had held onto his pacifist principles.

What year was this written again? 1950? Shortly after WWII, so still a touchy issue, I imagine. Being anti-war in those days might have quite a different flavour than in our time.

People will argue for or against non-violence, conscientious objection, etc. If you believe in and practice it, that's a good thing. The problem with Eustace's "pacifism" is that he is only interested in applying it to his own case. In reality, he didn't believe in it at all.

Which leads to the question: Did Lewis object to all who held the views of Harold and Alberta Scrubb? Or was it the noisy ones, with their obnoxious superiority, and as we would call it today, virtue signalling? I don't doubt he quite enjoyed pillorying those people's fads in this stinging little caricature.
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Re: Eustace and I

Postby Col Klink » Sep 12, 2018 6:55 am

I see Eustace as being initially more of a comedic character so I guess I wasn't thinking of him as being a character you dislike but can still sympathize with on some level. (I do think C.S. Lewis meant for us to feel sorry for Eustace at a couple of points, mainly when he looks for the picture frame and doesn't see it. But mostly he seems like he's supposed to be a caricature.)

Sometimes I think C.S. Lewis should have described Eustace's parents in more detail. I feel that he relies too much on the readers having the same feelings he has on vegetarians, teetotalers, pacifists, etc. He doesn't really give examples of why those things would be bad. That's not how you write good satire. Experiment House from The Silver Chair is a much better example of how you write this kind of thing.

But then I think it would have totally bogged down the beginning of the Voyage of the Dawn Treader if he had done that. It's not supposed to be a tract about modern trends; it's an adventure story taking place in Narnia. That's what the people want to read about so it's better to give it to them as soon as possible. =))

Just so people know, while I do mean everything I wrote, I wasn't super offended by Eustace's portrayal or anything. (Though I can certainly understand why a teetotaler, non-smoker, pacifist or vegetarian would be. Well, actually I'm a non-smoker and I'm still not offended.) I do think that Eustace was a bad person overall. I just don't disagree with him as much as Lewis did. I'm being playful with this topic and not angry. :)
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