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On The Chronicles of Narnia
Mind the Gap
Are You a Susan or a Lucy?
One of the most delightful things about reading books is what they can tell us about ourselves. We live with a character and follow him or her through the story with our own fingers numbed by the cold they suffer and our eyes dazzled by the wonders they see. When it comes to the Pevensie girls in the Chronicles of Narnia, whom do you feel most drawn to, Susan or Lucy? The reasons for your answer might surprise you, since C. S. Lewis used these characters to explore the age-old dilemma: how to grow up without becoming “very” grown-up.
What does this mean? The answer lies in the difference between being and doing. That is, between being who you are and doing what others expect of someone your age.
Look at the four Pevensies. When they first enter Narnia, they’re just kids. But by the end of the story they’ve matured enough to defeat the Witch and take their places as Kings and Queens of Narnia. They don’t just appear grown-up by the end of the book, they’ve become better people, stronger and more emotionally mature.
Yet Lewis understood that gaining this emotional maturity isn’t always easy. And in the Chronicles he used the two Pevensie girls, Lucy and Susan, to show this journey—a journey that centers on the struggle between acting grown-up and really growing up. A journey reflected in the act of reading itself.
Do you find yourself tucking a fairy tale behind a copy of Teen Vogue …
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