Synopsis: Uncle Andrew and the children return to our world. Digory gives his mother the apple, which heals her.
Aslan warns the children about our world, and how it could end similarly to Charn. The story takes place prior to both world wars, so Lewis may have been referring generally to the evil things, and weapons, that people would invent to defeat each other. Ford suggests, in his ‘Companion to Narnia’ that it is a more specific reference to the atomic bomb, which had of course been used prior to this book being written. Aslan also warns of tyrants rising up, which the reader knows to refer to those such as Hitler and Stalin who wrought such devastation on the world. I’m not entirely sure, however, why Digory and Polly are warned of this – are they supposed to act on the knowledge? If so, how? Wouldn’t it frighten them terribly? Or is it really just a warning that is being given indirectly to the reader?
For the rest of their lives, we are told that the memory of Aslan’s ‘golden goodness’ was a source of strength and happiness to them. The words, ‘The feeling that it was still there, quite close, just around the corner or just behind some door, would come back and make them sure, deep down inside, that all was well,’ describes pretty accurately what my relationship with Narnia was, for me as a child, and in many ways as an adult.
Digory’s ability to provide a cure for his mother, a genuine, gentle cure, is a very touching end to the story, particularly as Lewis must have been thinking of his own mother as he wrote it. How different his life might have been.
We’ve seen Digory being less than perfect during the story: twisting Polly’s arm; lying to himself; lying to other people; rushing into situations without thinking about the consequences. But here, we see the Digory being gentle, thoughtful, and we see how desperately he loves his mother.
I’ve mentioned before that as a child the religious undercurrent of the Chronicles passed me by for a good while, but here the references to religion in our world are coming thicker and faster. Heaven (also previously mentioned by Digory when arguing with the Witch outside the Garden) is mentioned again. The doctor speaks of Mrs Ketterley’s recovery as a miracle.
I don’t imagine the children buried the rings very deeply. The next occupant of the house could have unearthed them, and ended up in the Wood Between the Worlds, with no means of return.
‘When things go wrong, you’ll find they usually go on getting worse for some time; but when things once start going right they often go on getting better and better’. I don’t remember this quote from earlier readings, but it really stood out for me this time. Based purely on my own experience of life, it’s actually quite accurate.
Digory is described as a great traveller (something Lewis definitely was not). Maybe his journey to other worlds sparked this interest in him.
Again I am reminded of how much more pleasurable it would be to read this book after reading LWW. Reading about the lamppost in the woods, the house in the country, ‘with the suits of armour’ and of course about how the wardrobe came into existence, is so much more satisfying when you know about what happened there. Otherwise, it’s just spoilers.