Table of contents

The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

On sacrifice

Four children discover accidentally a magical world called Narnia. They are understandably incredulous in the beginning, except the little girl, herself a monument to gullibility. In the end, we expect, it will turn out to have been no accident, for fables end with morals.

Narnia was once garden-like, green, & filled with talking animals. Children would have been rather happy there. Alas, that is not the way of things or men. An evil witch conquered it, apparently in a heartbeat. She entertains the populace with a secret police of ravenous wolves & has made traitors of good, but weak men. What was it that derelict prince said about the name of frailty? The land is deserted & turned to perpetual winter, as a faun says, always winter, but never Christmas.

The children are the prophesied kings & queens of Narnia. They must lead one part of the talking animals in war against the other. They have hope of success. Their efforts fail to impress, so the god in the story must intervene, who is a great big lion. The ensuing battle is quite inspiriting…

‘Midst battle preparations, however, a curious incident occurs – a technicality, perhaps; certainly, it ruins the action. But one child, a boy, commits what may indelicately be dubbed treason, for which he would be forgiven if forgiveness could come, but it cannot. In the event, there is no harm done. But that matters little against the principle that evil has been committed & must be punished – paid in blood. The greatest warrior among the good, their general & animating spirit, therefore sacrifices himself.

Of course, politically, this is madness. Even an impulsive creature, an adolescent, could see this problem. But I shall attempt a defense. Principle & expediency conflict; prudence & absolute justice conflict. The evil witch is surprised that the sacrifice is followed by a resurrection; but it confirms our expectations. The requirement of a pure conscience is not satisfied with no harm, no foul – which is practical & circumstantial. This all depends on how much one hopes to gain in this life. At least, we prove evil is necessary: it provokes learning. Perhaps this explains the endgame, if learning leads to sacrifice.

The resurrected lion unfortunately stumbles on the ropes binding him. But mice loyally gnaw at them, & are rewarded with speech. This is most wonderful, I think. Then the battle is really won & the good really are rewarded. Life is restored to the petrified animals littering the landscape. The boy who betrayed his siblings & helped the evil witch, which got the great big lion killed, well, he is surnamed The Just. The young girl is therefore justly surnamed The Valiant.

A pleasant family movie. Recommended for the young