Synopsis: The friends watch Aslan put an end to the world of Narnia. They meet Emeth.
The friends stand on the right side of Aslan. In ‘Biblical’ terms, this shows their importance and place of favour with their leader. (There are a number of other Biblical allusions in this chapter, which are helpfully listed in Ford’s Companion to Narnia. The influence of Revelantions on the entire book is notable, as well.)
One of my favourite scenes in the Narniad is the beautiful creation scene in MN. Here we see it’s opposite: the total destruction of the world. It is a sad but fascinating scene. There is silence instead of music, cold instead of warmth and death instead of life. However, I would love to see the descent of the stars. (I never pictured them quite as they appear in Pauline Baynes’ illustration, which reminds me more of Jack Frost.) Is Coriakin there? Ramandu? Tarva? Alambil? For me, nobody writes this sort of thing as well as Lewis. He can mix clarity of prose with dreamlike mystical elements. His writing about such moments is never arch, or self-conscious, or insincere.
The influence of Lewis’ beloved Norse mythology is present in the ending of the Narnian world is clear. In these myths, Ragnarok is the ending of the world, which sees the gods killed in a huge battle with monsters. A horn is blown to signal the beginning of the end. An eagle is present to witness events. The world is subsequently covered with water and the stars disappear.
Michael Ward’s ‘Planet Narnia’ links LB with the medieval idea of Saturn. (Death, destruction, melancholy etc.) Father time, the old man with the scythe, was based on Saturn. Here he appears, but we are told he will have a new name. We aren’t told what it is. (Ford mentions that this is a reference either to a work of George Macdonald or Revelation 2:17, or both.)
How did creatures like the monopods get across the sea to the door? How did water-based animals reach the door? Did insects have to face Aslan too? (I suppose this is not the best section of the book to dissect in ‘logical’ terms.) To be fair, the idea of time and reality altering beyond the character’s – and our – understanding is mentioned by the narrator.
Where did the creatures who entered Aslan’s shadow end up? (Maybe the best guess here would come from reading The Great Divorce.) Are the dumb animals’ fates different from the other beings?
How does Roonwit know what to do? Is it a centaur thing? Is it instinct, or has Aslan given him instructions?
I’m so glad that Poggin, the boar and the others have a happy ending.
Why are the giant lizards etc. necessary? Their entire existence seems very strange: sleep underground in massive caves for millennia, wake up, eat some trees, age rapidly, die, decay. (If the world around them wasn’t about to die they’d make amazing fossils for someone to find.) Do they not have souls to be judged by Aslan?
The red sun and the moon rising in the wrong place is a really unsettling image.
Why does Peter shut the door? Why not King Frank? Or Tirian? (Is this a reference to Saint Peter and his symbolic keys?)
I agree with Tirian – I would definitely cry if I watched Narnia die.
The dogs are delightful to read about here. They add some light relief to the seriousness of what is happening, too.