Friday, November 30, 2007

On what happened to Susan

This is a fictional story concerning what happened to Susan. It's a little better than what Philip Pullman seems to have assumed. It looks as if J. K. Rowling has the same problem as Pullman with respect to Susan.

See also this from letter to children: HT: Jason Pratt

From another letter to a boy named Martin: "The books don't tell us what happened to Susan. She is left alive in this world at the end, having then turned into a rather silly, *conceited* young woman. [emphasis mine] But there is plenty of time for her to mend, and perhaps she will get to Aslan's country in the end--in her own way." (ibid, p 67.)


Mike Darus said...

It was some time after reading the Narnia books that I read about the controversy about Susan. It surprised me that people concluded that Susan lost her faith. I saw it much more about losing her ability to participate in childhood. Both Peter and Susan had "grown out" of their ability to go back to Narnia early in the series (I read the books in publishing order, not chronological order). For the most part, "On What Happened To Susan" captures this idea except for treason references. I see Susan's state at the end of the book in light of Lewis' statements about his three phases of 1) enjoying childhood stories 2) being embarassed about them and 3)growing past the embarassment. We last see Susan in stage 2 at the end of The Last Battle. Fancier's ending gets Susan to stage 3. This sits well with me.

Jason Pratt said...

The problem with making the parallel with the three phases, is that in the Narnian Chronicles these aren't "children's stories". Susan helped a royal divinity, Who had sacrificed Himself to save the life of her own brother, by governing and serving a nation as a duly appointed queen under His proper authority.

This is actual fact within the series; which is why it is horribly jarring for Susan to pretend that these were only children's stories that they were making up. She didn't pledge her loyalty as a Queen to a pretense or children's fun myth.

That is why references to treason cannot be excised from the account. Susan could represent adolescent unwarranted rebellion against religious faithfulness in many different ways (Lewis would have also been familiar with warranted rebellion against religious faith in various ways and would have been sympathetic to that instead), with hope that she will come back around in time if she ever finishes growing up. But her rejection is far more important (within the Narnian stories anyway) than merely being embarassed about children's stories.