2008-11-02 Show 006

The Silver Chair

The Narnia Exhibition web site is found at


As best we can tell – the chronology of writing the 7 Chronicles of Narnia is as follows:

  • 1939 (Fall) – Jack writes some of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe
  • 1948 (Summer) – Jack starts writing on this story again
  • 1949 (Spring) – Writing The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe is finished.  It is published in the Fall of the following year in England.
  • The next books are written in this order
    • Prince Caspian
    • Voyage of the Dawn Treader
    • The Horse and His Boy
    • The Silver Chair
    • The Last Battle
    • The Magician’s Nephew
  • The books were originally published in this order and (to me) it makes the most sense to read them in this order
    • The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe
    • Prince Caspian
    • Voyage of the Dawn Treader
    • The Silver Chair
    • The Horse and His Boy
    • The Magician’s Nephew
    • The Last Battle

One of the best uses of humor in all the Chronicles is found at the beginning and at the end of The SIlver Chair in Jack’s description of the educational model used at Experiment House and the career of its Headmistress – IMHO you’ll enjoy this.

Notes About The Story Itself

  • The “landscape” of the story proceeds in layers, from the mountains (the High Country of Aslan), to the surface of Narnia, to caves deep underground, and to the Really Deep land of Bism, far beneath Narnia, and back again.
    • Each layer has its own distinct population – musical birds, talking owls, gianst, marshwriggles, gnomes, and salamanders in a river of fire.
  • Aslan appears less often than in other stories, appearing only 3 times in this tale.
  • This is a quest tale with three heroes
    • Eustace from the Voyage of the Dawn Treader
    • Jill Pole, a fellow student with Eustace at Experiment House
    • Puddleglum the Marshwriggle
      • Tall, stringy, man-like with webbed hands and feet
      • Pessimistic and pragmatic, looks for the worst in any situation
      • Can be loyal and brave, and will follow Aslan’s leading
  • Puddleglum is the “guide” for this quest tale, like Obi-Wan
  • Puddleglum also models how Christians should hold on to their faith even in the face of contrary evidence
    • See Jack’s essay “On Onstinancy in Belief” in “The World’s Last Night” (and otehr collections)
    • Jack argues that Puddleglum’s faith (and Christian faith) is based upon knowing something of God’s personality
  • The key to understanding the book is to read the first 2 chapters carefully
    • Jill and Eustace are given a task by Aslan
    • They are also given Four Signs to guide them in the task and a warning that the signs may not appear as they expect them to in the quest
    • The question is – will they follow the signs or not.
  • Jill and Eustace begin badly in that they miss the first sign
  • They start to follow the second one, guided by Puddleglum, but are turned aside from following it to seek their own comfort in a castle populated by giants
    • They almost are eaten by the giants but escape
  • During the escape they fall into a cave are and are captured by gnomes, who take them to the evil Queen of Underland.
  • The Queen has enchanted Rilian, the prince they have come to seek.  He is in a trance 23 hours of the day.  During the 24th, he comes to himself but is kept a prisoner by being bound to a silver chair.
  • They stay with Rilian during this hour, and he gives them the fourth sign. They decide to follow it and cut him lose from the chair.
  • The Queen returns and tries to enchant the heroes (Rilain is added to their band at this point) and make them forget all about Narnia, Aslan, and their task.
  • They argue with the Queen about how we know something is real.
    • She says that the sun and Narnia and Aslan are all fantasies – they are simply enhanced copies of what is real in her world.  Since the only way they can be described is in terms of this world, they must not have any separate, real existence.
    • Puddleglum answers her by sayin that even if this is so, the made-up things seem a lot more important than her “real” world.  He is on Aslan’s side even if Aslan doesn’t exist, and he will live like a Narnian even if Narnian does not exist.
  • The heroes escape and return to Narnia and to Aslan’s country – for what happens there, you’ll have to read the book yourself.

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