from an academic paper I wrote about the series in 2005:
In The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe and The Last Battle C.S. Lewis paints a world that is...morefrom an academic paper I wrote about the series in 2005:
In The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe and The Last Battle C.S. Lewis paints a world that is steeped in Celtic, Greek, and Christian mythos and imagery. He mixes and melds allegory and characters in a way that is lightweight, readable, and believable. The Chronicles of Narnia is a far lighter than Lewis’s contemporary, J.R.R. Tolkien’s, The Lord of the Rings, but are no less steeped in a mythology that has depth, and history—a world based on mythology, but has also created its own mythos. Lewis draws from several mythological sources, but the books rely heavily on creatures from Greek, and Celtic mythology. Lewis relies heavily on Christian allegory for the books. Although the characters are derived from Pagan mythologies, the stories are derived from the Bible. Pagan and Christian myths meld into a new mythos. (less)
Each time I read this book, a different “universal truth” jumps out at me. When I was younger, I pond...moreNotes from an academic discussion about the book:
Each time I read this book, a different “universal truth” jumps out at me. When I was younger, I pondered the themes of prejudice, kindness, and dignity that run through the book, but now that I’m considerably older, what stuck out to me this time were the themes of innocence, and loss of innocence running through the whole book.
This reading I was particularly caught by the child-like perspective that the book gives each of the events. From the kids all thinking anything that touches the Radley property is poisoned, to Scout’s minimal understanding of the words used in the trial, but her complete understanding of the concepts. Likewise, with the exception of the trial, throughout the book innocence trumps experience. A particular example was when Scout first finds the goodies in the Radley tree. She finds the gum, ponders its origins, and decides that she’d like chewing the gum better than being all grown up about it. Jem, who always represents a more mature (but not much more until near the end) perspective, and he makes her spit it out when he finds out where she got it from. In the end though, Scout’s innocence let her get a good chew out of a wad of gum.
I think the fact that the book takes place over three years helps show the contrast between the innocent time at the beginning of the book, when Scout was six, and Dill, Jem and she played as relative equals, to Scout’s first day of school where Jem begins to brush her off as the “little sister.” By the end of the book, when Scout is nine, she may be physically older, but it seems that she is even more sheltered by Jem, who thinks the concept of the trial may be too grown up for her. He moves through the story from her equal to her protector, which only helps to keep Scout innocent through the book.
In the end though, the book really proves that there is something magical and golden about innocence. There is a purity and truth in innocence—whether it’s a dignified response to an unfair world, or simply an acceptance of things even if they are strange and different.