The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe is the second book in the Narnia series. This is the one that I read when I was in fifth grade (or sometime in elementary school) and didn’t like. I don’t remember why except that I apparently found it difficult to understand. Twelve years later, I’d like to say that I understood it much better—and enjoyed it quite a bit more!
This story picks up many years after The Magician’s Nephew ends. The tree that Digory planted in his backyard—the core of the magic apple—has come down after many years. Digory, now an acclaimed Professor, made a wardrobe out of it many years ago; this wardrobe now sits in his huge old country house.
Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy are four siblings who are sent to the Professor’s house from London during the air-raids of WWII. One rainy day, they decide to explore the large, rambling house, and Lucy, the youngest, stumbles upon a strange wardrobe. She climbs in to see what’s inside, and discovers double rows of fur coats…but does not find the back of the closet. She continues feeling her way toward the back of the closet, only to find herself in the middle of a snowy wood. After spending a few hours there and meeting a magical creature called a Faun (who explains that the wood she has stumbled upon is called Narnia), she makes her way back through the wardrobe to the Professor’s house.
Initially, Peter, Susan, and Edmund don’t believe Lucy’s story of a wood behind the wardrobe; though she has been gone for hours in Narnia’s time, she has been gone for mere seconds in our world’s time. Eventually, the other three also make their way into Narnia—where they must escape the White Witch, who is the reason for Narnia’s eternal winter and who is determined to turn all four children into stone so she will eternally remain the Queen of Narnia.
This second installment of The Chronicles of Narnia was fantastic. Even though it’s clear that it was written for children, I don’t feel talked down to or anything like that. The Christian allegory is continued here—also very reminiscent of Harry Potter—but I won’t say more than that so I won’t spoil it for those who haven’t read it.
Something I’m seeing as a theme between the two books I’ve read so far is that it always seems to be the boys who make the dumb decisions—the girls are always sensible and restrained. For example, in The Magician’s Nephew, it’s Digory who wakes Jadis and ends up bringing her back to our world; in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, Edmund (sort of) befriends the White Witch, eats the enchanted Turkish Delight she offers, and agrees to bring his brother and sisters to her. I mean, it was published in 1950, so I can see where the sexism would come in. (It also makes sense, then, that Father Christmas tells the girls they aren’t to be part of the battle to come because “battles are ugly when women fight.”)
Again…I’m so glad I’ve begun reading these. I’ve already started The Horse and His Boy! 🙂