Over at However Improbable, Miss Jack is doing a giveaway to celebrate the coming release of her newest self-published book, A Stretch of Loyalty. To enter, I have to write a post on a character. Her post on the Pevensie children inspired so me to look closer at Susan, one of my favourites.
Susan. The bossy older sister, too logical for her own good. Narrow-minded, black-and-white. She stopped believing in Narnia. She became the girl who loved the frivolous things in life. Racing to the “Silliest time in ones life, and trying to stay there for as long as possible.”
Look at “Narnia” Susan–the royal, beautiful queen, the archer, the one who’s horn saved Prince Caspian’s army. Look at Our-World Susan–the stuffy, beautiful schoolgirl, the swimmer, the one who kept all her siblings in check and, in the end, lost touch with Narnia.
What happened to her? Simple answer. Susan grew up. Longer answer? Don’t get me started…
In The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, Susan is concerned about safety for her siblings, and she’s the last of the siblings to believe. Susan in a word is practical.
And then, as the adventure progressed, she filled the shoes of a queen, more and more. Still down to earth, yes, but she took up archery after an encounter with Father Christmas. (“Told you he was real.”) She grew up with all the others, ruled, and stumbled back into a world she’d forgotten about.
Culture shock, eh? Not only that, but she de-aged. She would have been twenty-something, gorgeously beautiful. She’d accomplished many things, fought many wars, etc. All of a sudden, she’s a kid again. Beautiful, yes. Athletic, yes. But… she went from absolute power to zilch, and for a person who is a healthy control freak, that’s tough.
In The Horse and His Boy, Susan isn’t a main character. The story takes place during the time she ruled at Cair Paravel. The climax of the story hinges around a battle over Susan’s hand in marriage, because she was flattered by a suitor who wouldn’t take no for an answer when he turned out to be a jerk. As a result, a lot of people died in a war they never wanted.
Think about living with that. Knowing that innocent Narnians and conscripted Calormene soliders died because she wouldn’t marry someone — not that Peter would have let her, even to end the war. For the rest of her life, she had to know that people had died because she said, “No.” And if you think way back, she watched Aslan be killed, while protecting her little sister. Just saying. Susan actually had bad memories of Narnia.
And then, in Prince Caspian, she’s pulled back, after a year of adjusting to normal life. Again, major culture shock. But all good, she went on to help win a glorious battle. At one stage, she refused to believe Aslan was there, but she apologized and they moved on.
At the end of the book, after she’s done her part in the battle, and everyone’s happy, and the whole thing would never have succeeded if it wasn’t for Susan (because it was her horn), Aslan turns around and tells her she’s done. Over. No more Narnia. Thanks for your help. Bye.
Crushing, much? I would be gutted. And that is when Susan is sent back to our world for the second time. She’s lucky–she gets to go on a trip to America as a distraction, and I expect that would be when she started to really change, because she didn’t have her siblings there to keep her constant. She started to like the party scene a bit more.
In The Last Battle, Susan doesn’t believe in Narnia anymore. She is silly. Notice. Once practical, now silly. It’s the very practicality that makes up her core that changed her into that. She knew that Narnia was over, and she hung onto that. She blocked the traumatic experience of those battles, and the people who died for her rejection of Rabadash. She took the reality of this world for all it’s worth, and made it the one thing she could rely on.
I think Susan kept believing. It’s impossible to forget something like that, unless she actually blocked it due to trauma, which I do consider possible. But I tend to think that she worked with what she had. She had this world, and she wasn’t going to let go of it. Because Susan remembered the bad memories as strongly as the good ones. And she didn’t want to be hurt again.
Edmund is my favourite Pevensie. Susan is second. As a side note, I’m writing this from a literary perspective, not looking at any of the Christian undertones in the book. I also think the movies did an amazing job of portraying Susan, especially in Prince Caspian. I will always adore that movie.
Mime is contemplating all the books on her reading list. She’s looking forward to reading Life in Outer Space by Melissa Keil, which she is hoping will be good. She is also thinking of rewatching X-Men in preparation for The Wolverine. Which looks awesome, just so you know.