Synopsis: Jill is pulled through a hole in the ‘roof’. The others fear for her safety, but she has been helped out by some Narnians. They then dig out the others, and Prince Rilian is revealed.
It seems that Narnia is having its usual effect on visitors from our world. Jill is very brave, and has no qualms about leading the way through the mysterious hole. When she disappears, Eustace’s upbraiding of Puddleglum seems to be based on his care for Jill rather than real anger. (Drinian was shown to be angry with Reepicheep in VDT in a similar way.) With Puddleglum’s doleful response, agreeing that he’s done a terrible thing, it would be difficult to remain angry at him.
Jill’s view, which she takes a moment to make sense of, includes many of the key features which Lewis uses to show ‘good’ Narnia: dancing, music, stars and trees. The music is ‘sweet’ and ‘eerie’, with the suggestion that it is more than ‘just’ music, in a way that sounds and music often are in the Chronicles. Also, the creatures involved are involved in actions which, although complex, come naturally to them, which is something often referenced throughout the books.
Is a snowball dance a thing which has happened anywhere but in the Great Snow Dance, either in real life or in fiction? I can’t find any examples, but there are so many odd traditions nothing would surprise me.
After experiencing an unnatural, evil, enchanted winter in LWW, the reader is now allowed to see what a real, wonderful Narnian winter is like. One of the experiences I most wished to have, as a young reader, was to experience the pleasures of Narnian hospitality as Jill does here, sitting on a snowy hill, wrapped in fur and sipping a hot drink. Such simple pleasures seem so familiar, so comforting, so inviting. The more I’m surrounded by technology and suchlike these days, the more I find the Lewisian voice in me pining for the ‘good old days’. (Although of course nostalgia paints those days as some sort of rural idyll, when I actually grew up in the 80s, with a video and a Spectrum zx 48k.)
Eustace shows just how far he has come in terms of bravery when he appears out of the hole, brandishing his sword at imagined enemies. I can’t imagine his swordsmanship is particularly refined, but its the intention which matters here.
The Narnians all know Puddleglum, even though he is from a different part of Narnia entirely. Does everyone in Narnia know everyone else? What sort of population is there? Is it possible to work out a rough idea of the geographical size of Narnia, or its population density? And if there is, is there anyone interested enough to try?
Puddleglum’s insistence that he hasn’t an interesting tale to tell is yet more proof of what a ‘decent sort’ he really is. Hopefully the Narnians get the details out of him at some point. I’d like to think he was honoured and rewarded by King Rilian for what he did – especially when the witch was trying to enchant the others.