Synopsis: The victors discuss how to deal with Rabadash. When he refuses their mercy, Aslan punishes him.
Something a little odd happened on my re-read of this chapter. When King Lune welcomes Aravis to Anvard, I felt really emotional. I don’t remember this happening when I was young. Maybe it’s because Aravis must have felt so utterly relieved to be put so at ease after worrying what would happen to her. Maybe it’s because I’ve developed a soft spot for the formal speech employed from time to time in Narnia, when noble people are being courteous to each other. Maybe it’s because Lune is so down-to-earth and fatherly, and my own lovely father is no longer with me. I suspect it’s a combination of all three.
When Cor is initially pleased that his parent hears a story of his heroism, then increasingly embarrassed after multiple re-tellings, I think anyone can relate. Parents feeling proud is lovely, but they do love to re-tell a tale to everyone and anyone they meet.
Lucy and Aravis instantly like each other. I imagine each would like the other’s straightforwardness. This passage, again, is often cited as an example of Lewis’ sexism. Although I don’t deny that Lewis did write and say sexist things (I’ll explore this fully in an upcoming post) I never read this section in that way as a child. This was only my personal reaction to it, but as I read it all I thought was, ‘I wish I could be their friend, and have some fancy castle rooms set up just for me.’ Gender never featured in this for me, but I was lucky enough to grow up in a house where everyone was a feminist, so maybe that was why.
‘Even a traitor may mend. I have known one that did.’ This quote is all over the internet (instagram, pinterest etc). It really resonates with people. We’ve all done things we regret, but all hope to be given a second chance.
Apes are mentioned here, being described as dishonest. This will become more significant in LB. Is there a folklore precedent for this? I couldn’t find one but it would seem likely.
Rabadash was in a comfortable room with good food, but we are told he had a terrible night due to his own sulkiness. This is similar to Uncle Andrew in MN, in that situations do affect us, but our perception of and response to them are what often decide our state of mind.
My disproportionate dislike of Corin continues with his plea to box Rabadash and his taunting of the Calormene.
According to Downing’s ‘Into the Wardrobe’, Lune calling Rabadash a ‘pajock’ references Hamlet, where Hamlet is about to call someone an ass, but instead uses this term. This is relevant considering Rabadash’s imminent fate.
After reading this book when young, I was determined to learn to waggle my ears. It’s a useless skill but one that Narnia taught me, nonetheless.
‘Lightning in the shape of scorpions’ reminded me of Doctor Evil’s sharks with laser beams from the Austin Powers films.
I don’t know why Rabadash is turned into a donkey rather than any other animal. Maybe because ‘ass’ is a synonym for ‘fool’. Maybe for no particular reason. I have read elsewhere online that it is due to the unpleasant associations the name of this animal has in arab culture, so was used as a final insult to the ‘middle eastern’ Rabadash. I hope this isn’t the reason. (See my separate post on race issues in HHB.)
I did look in my local library for a good history of Calormen. Naturally, I was disappointed.
A grand feast is the quintessential Narnian ( or Archenlandish) way to celebrate. The setting, with lanterns hung around the moonlit lawn only make it more appealing. Similarly, I love the evening dinner on the Camomile Lawn in Mary Wesley’s book of the same name, or the birthday party in the Weasley’s back garden in Rowling’s Harry Potter. Eating outside, with friends, somewhere warm enough to stay out late, is such a lovely thought.
I’d absolutely love to hear the full version of the lay of Olvin (did anything in Narnia ever sound so Tolkien-esque?).
I’ve always been puzzled by the fact that Lucy tells the others the story of the Wardrobe here. Not long after HHB’s events, the Pevensies are utterly mystified by the lamppost and have no recollection of their origins in our world. How did change this occur?
When Corin says that ‘princes have all the fun’, it always makes me think of the British princes, William and Harry. I wonder if that’s how Harry feels?
Why did Corin box the bear? Why did this make it ‘un-lapsed’?
For some reason (most likely my personal prejudice against Corin) I was always pleased to know that Cor was the more accomplished and dangerous warrior. I’m sure he wouldn’t have boasted about it either.
Personally, I was happy to know that Cor and Araris got married, but I’ve seen people online both agree and disagree with it. It’s the classic ‘buddy/romantic comedy’ result: two very different people forced to work together, where they start off disliking each other but then change their minds. Some people think it is too hastily ‘tacked on’ to the story to be convincing. Others ‘ship it’ and have written plenty of fanfiction on the subject. I just liked the thought of two characters I liked settling down together; why, I’m not sure.