Apropos of nothing, as we were finishing dinner:
-So, mom, is it true that they all die at the end of Narnia?
-Yup. Oh- all except Susan.
-Oh good! Susan doesn’t die! (Susan is her favourite. Pretty and flirty and not overly concerned with the talking animals, concentrating on good-looking men).
A few moment later:
-How do they die?
-A train crash.
And after a moment “Poor Susan- so she remains alive while the others are all killed?”
In fact, other critics have also noted the cruelty of keeping Susan alive when everybody else is killed in a train crash. Is that a suitable punishment for someone who randomly happens to be more worldly and less inclined to believe in fantasies?
-So why wasn’t Susan on that train?
-She had stopped believing in Narnia, and so she wasn’t with the others.
The Princess blinked as she tried to process the information. Aslan’s land=good. Death=bad. Susan not dying=good. Susan alive but her mom and dad and brothers and sister all dead=very bad. Narnia=good. Not dying because you stopped believing in Narnia= go0d? bad?
The Princess makes an effort: `But the others aren’t really dead, are they? Don’t they end up in Aslan’s land?
I have discussed elsewhere my insidious fear that my Princess may turn religious on me- her love of solidarity, of conformity, of organized emotions, and those rotten family genes all fan this fear. Whereas the Golden boy, caught up as he is in the wonder of his Goldenness inspires no such fear, for he is a religion unto himself. Anyway, I wasn’t about to let C.S. Lewis’s diseased imagination corrupt my child, if I could help it.
-They really die. Aslan’s land was only the author’s way of saying that they’re dead. That’s all. They’re dead.
Another long silence, and we continue eating. And then:
-So at the end of the Dawn Treader, where Reepicheep decides to sail to Aslan’s land, he is actually committing suicide?
I get up, gathering the plates. What was surely one of the longest dinner ever sat through by mankind came to an end.