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Repost from Inksome: Susan Pevensie

Inksome is going dark, alas, and so any links from my earlier posts that go there will no longer work. Meanwhile, I'm going to repost the various book reviews and whatnot in here. Here's the first.

Dug out my backups from the Scribblit phase, and everything has either moldered away (commentary on the writer's strike) or is easily available  elsewhere (Booty a short story published in the CaliFur program book the year the theme was pirates), so  I'm not going to be posting any of that.  Instead, a bit of commentary on something that's always bugged me a bit.

Just finished my occasional reread of the Chronicles of Narnia, then came across the neverending “What about Susan” discussion as incarnated on someone’s LJ. Now there’s a lot of discussion one can have over CS Lewis and his attitudes, or why he chose Susan to be odd man out (and not just at the end – she tended to be from the beginning), but in the context of the books themselves, this whole thing stems from a few of paragraphs in The Last Battle – so few that fair use allows me to quote them all:

“My sister Susan,” answered Peter shortly and gravely, “is no longer a friend of Narnia.”

“Yes,” said Eustace, “and whenever you’ve tried to get her to come and talk about Narnia or do anything about Narnia, she says ‘What wonderful memories you have! Fancy your still thinking about all those funny games we used to play when we were children.’”

“Oh Susan!” said Jill, “she’s interested in nothing now-a-days except nylons and lipstick and invitations. She always was a jolly sight too keen on being grown-up.”

“Grown-up, indeed,” said the Lady Polly. “I wish she would grow up. She wasted all her school time wanting to be the age she is now, and she’ll waste all the rest of her life trying to stay that age. Her whole idea of life is to race on to the silliest time of one’s life as quick as she can and then stop there as long as she can.”

“Well, don’t talk about that now,”said Peter. “Look! Here are lovely fruit trees. Let us taste them.

Now we can easily see that her brother (and possibly other siblings) found her perhaps boring and no fun anymore, while Polly found her overly frivolous, but one thing is immediately clear, and that is that she has not been excluded from the Friends of Narnia because she won’t go adventuring, or because she’s too shallow or anything else along those lines. She’s not been excluded at all – she opted out of her own free will. Susan is no longer a Friend of Narnia because Susan herself has decided to not be one.

OK, this means there is a perfectly good reason she was not at the party – the same reason I don’t go to Elks meetings – I’m not a member. She did not know anything about the call for help, or the various actions spawned by same, and did not have any reason to be on that train, present at the Last Battle, or in Real Narnia either.

But you’ll note that the adult Pevenseys, not being Friends of Narnia also did not come in via Narnia OR Real Narnia – they came in through Real England, and still made it to Aslan’s Country. And there’s no reason to believe Aslan has called time on England; they’re here because they came to the station to meet the others and got caught in the wreck. (If I was going to pick a bone with CS Lewis, this might be the place for it – seems an awfully sloppy way to get a handful of people out of England for someone capable of summoning people out of one universe into another with such ease as he used to bring in Queen Helen in The Magician’s Nephew, or send the Telmarines back at the end of Prince Caspian… but I digress.) Susan, presumably is still alive since she’s not with her parents. Most likely due to having not happened to come to the station.

What happens next? We don’t know! All we know is that she didn’t come along with either part of the family before we reached the end of the book. The only people to speak of her at all were Peter, Polly and Jill and Eustace. Not a word from Aslan, the party whose opinion most counts. That’s Susan’s story, and the minute she separates from the story of the Friends of Narnia it’s no longer part of the Narnian story, which is the one we’re reading about. She may turn up five minutes after the end of the book; she may live a long life and have many experiences and then come in via Real England or wherever when she does die. She may HAVE separated herself from Aslan’s Country entirely. But we have no particular reason to assume so from what we see in the book.