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The Horse & His Boy: Chapter 2 - moonspinner
moonspinner
moonspinner
The Horse & His Boy: Chapter 2
But before we get to that magnificent race on the beach, Shasta and Bree make their way steadily up North from Arsheesh’s hut. The chapter begins with Shasta sore from riding the day before. More and more I’m appreciating and liking just how ‘real’ Shasta is. He’s not a wonder kid that jumps on a horse for the first time and knows what to do. He’s a real boy who gets sore from his first horse-riding experience and is in so much pain that the idea of escape looks like too much bother. And when he gets his first whiff of fish-less air, and the spirit of adventure and freedom rises high in his chest, his first thought is: ‘Bree, didn’t you say something about breakfast?”

It was also nice to read Shasta’s misgivings about using the money in the Tarkhaan’s purse even though he doesn’t think twice about eating the food. (Although it’s sad, isn’t it, that the Tarkaan’s partially stale meal is the best breakfast Shasta’s ever had and he knows from personal experience that grass is not digestible?) It shows:

a, the boy does have a moral centre, maybe not clearly defined (although if not for Shasta’s penchant for eavesdropping, this story would have been something completely different). I wonder if he learnt this from Arsheesh or if this is just intrinsic and this could easily delve into a nature vs. nurture rant (but it won’t!).

and b, it shows that Lewis doesn’t take it for granted that his readers don’t have a moral centre. Stupid nitpicking is one thing (please don’t deliberate over the morality of stealing the keys to your own prison to escape) but if my hero must lie or cheat or kill, there’d better be a damn good reason why he couldn’t do otherwise and even then, there’d better be consequences in proportion to the crime. Because the writer has tagged a character ‘Hero’ does not make that character above moral behavior. If anything, the character now has to stand to a higher level of moral behavior. No one is really shocked (much) that the Bad Guy eats babies. We’d be more shocked if we find out that that was just a malicious lie.

I wish C. S. Lewis had drawn a map of Calormen, but not because the story needed one. His descriptions of the country hinterland and the journey that Shasta and Bree take over the next weeks make a very graphic mental picture. For some reason though, I always imagined the Wayside Adventure with the sea & sandunes to the left and the forest to the right. I realized my mistake yesterday when I was re-reading for this review, and I had to picture them racing in the opposite direction i.e. racing South. :P

So Aslan forces the two separate runaways to join and up until the last chapters of the story, we don’t know why he does that or indeed that the lion(s) are one lion, the Lion Aslan. Surely, I wasn’t the only one who was thrown off by two lions and decided that they couldn’t be Aslan? For some reason, I couldn’t see him working in a team :D and though I initially thought ‘Aslan’ when the ‘first’ lion roared, I doubted myself when I ‘realized’ there were ‘two’.

After watching the horror that was Disney’s the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, I’d willingly buy back their filming rights if I could afford to. However, I must say that the literal description of that horse race by the beach, with the moon shining on two horses galloping for their lives and the small riders all but knocking knees, would look lovely in 3-D.

So Shasta meets his future wife and the first thing he says is “Why, it’s only a girl!” My twelve-year-old feminist self couldn’t blame Shasta for being relieved that the mail-clad Tarkaan who may or may not have been shadowing him for the gallows turned out to be a girl barely his own age. Unfortunately for him though, the Tarkeena Aravis – who was running away from a life where a woman’s fortune depended on the power (or rather the wisdom) of the men that ‘owned’ her – was not as understanding.

Aravis: “And what business is it of yours if I am only a girl? You’re probably only a boy: a rude, common little boy – a slave, probably, who’s stolen his master’s horse.”

Burn. :D

Aravis realizing that she no longer owns Hwin must come as a shock to her; but she recovers from it quickly enough. I’ll be talking a lot much later about how adaptable Aravis as a character is. There must be something about Calormen that makes its people so pragmatic and I like it. There’s a lot more meat to meta :p about Aravis’s character in the next chapter so I’ll save the first of many Aravis rhapsodies for the next review.

Until then, here are some famous last words:

“Why don’t you say at once that you don’t think I’m good enough for you?”

Oh Shasta, you can’t really expect the girl accept your proposal just moments after your first meeting! :P

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Comments
fpb From: fpb Date: June 30th, 2008 05:48 pm (UTC) (Link)
LIvely, interesting comment. In matters of literary criticism I am something of a connoisseur, and you acquit yourself well. Thanks for taking this much trouble for your readers.

Edited at 2008-06-30 05:49 pm (UTC)
moonspinner From: moonspinner Date: July 1st, 2008 06:22 am (UTC) (Link)
Thanks! I'm really flattered. *g* I'm just having fun and I'm glad I'm sharing some of that fun with others.
foodsthatcan From: foodsthatcan Date: June 30th, 2008 11:36 pm (UTC) (Link)
How old do you think Shasta and Aravis are supposed to be? I've always thought Shasta can't be more than 12, but Aravis always comes across as older (and probably should, unless Lewis wanted to imply that pre-pubescent Calormene girls were being married off to gross old guys).

Shasta is kind of a John Connor-ish hero. They're both kind of rag-tag scrappers with pretty well-defined moral centers (aside from stealing, of course).
moonspinner From: moonspinner Date: July 1st, 2008 06:30 am (UTC) (Link)
How old do you think Shasta and Aravis are supposed to be? I've always thought Shasta can't be more than 12, but Aravis always comes across as older (and probably should, unless Lewis wanted to imply that pre-pubescent Calormene girls were being married off to gross old guys).

Well in the next chapter, Shasta actually asks Aravis this. He tells her that she's not grown up, or even as old as he is, so how could she be getting married at that age? Aravis deems it beneath her to answer such an asinine question :P and Bree retorts that Shasta should not show his ignorance, they always get married at that age in the great Tarkaan families. :P Poor Shasta.

So yes, I think that the kids are probably 12-ish. That was the impression I got from the books for some reason. Aravis might be a year younger than Shasta, but nothing more I think. She appears older because as a Tarkeena, she's had more education than he is, also she's a great big snob. :P

Shasta is kind of a John Connor-ish hero. They're both kind of rag-tag scrappers with pretty well-defined moral centers (aside from stealing, of course).

Yeah, that's a nice one. I like that parallel. :P
sunlit_music From: sunlit_music Date: July 3rd, 2008 11:49 am (UTC) (Link)
I like how the characters sound real. It's a nice touch how Shasta has no problem with eating the food, but he worries about using another person's money.

if my hero must lie or cheat or kill, there’d better be a damn good reason why he couldn’t do otherwise and even then, there’d better be consequences in proportion to the crime. Because the writer has tagged a character ‘Hero’ does not make that character above moral behavior. If anything, the character now has to stand to a higher level of moral behavior.

So true. I dislike it when heroes are let off for doing horrific things because they're the hero.
That's why I had a problem with Harry's prtrayal in the Sectusempra chapter of HBP.

Stories are more interesting when the author owns up when a character has done something wrong instead of ignoring it.
No one is really shocked (much) that the Bad Guy eats babies. We’d be more shocked if we find out that that was just a malicious lie.

I wonder why this sort of thing (where it turns out a horrible rumour about the bad guy is false) isn't written often?
moonspinner From: moonspinner Date: July 3rd, 2008 03:06 pm (UTC) (Link)
I like how the characters sound real. It's a nice touch how Shasta has no problem with eating the food, but he worries about using another person's money.

In his practical mind, he probably thought that to not eat the food means wasting it which is worse. :D Money, on the other hand, is a different thing. :D

Let me not even get started on Sectusempra and how the Gryffindor goddess thought it was a good thing that Harry had murder up his sleeve!


I wonder why this sort of thing (where it turns out a horrible rumour about the bad guy is false) isn't written often?

Well there are some stories where the supposed bad guy was never meant to be the Big Bad and that showed from the beginning: like Vader from the Star Wars movies, & Prince Zuko from Avatar. But I don't think there are a lot of stories like that. Perhaps that's why these 2 are so well-loved?

dreamflower02 From: dreamflower02 Date: October 23rd, 2008 04:34 pm (UTC) (Link)
Shasta does seem to be grounded morally. Yet, as you say, he's also very pragmatic. The difference between food and money seems very obvious to him--and it may be pragmatic as well. After all, what would be said if an obvious slave tried to spend that kind of money? He'd find far more trouble than it was worth.

I think it's marvelous how realistic Shasta and Aravis both are in their reactions to their situations and to one another. It's very typical of that early pre-pubescent attitude of hostility that seems usual for boys and girls. (Our modern world has blurred that a lot with it's insistence on sexualizing everything. It is quite *unnatural* to me to hear a fifth-grader talking about a "boyfriend".)

What's even more fun to me is their reaction to their horses!

It never occured to me that either lion *was* Aslan himself, but rather I assumed they had been *sent* by Aslan. And I suspected Aslan's handpaw in the other feline encounters, but until the end, I did not realize they actually were Aslan himself.
moonspinner From: moonspinner Date: October 24th, 2008 08:42 am (UTC) (Link)
The difference between food and money seems very obvious to him--and it may be pragmatic as well. After all, what would be said if an obvious slave tried to spend that kind of money? He'd find far more trouble than it was worth.

That is a very good point! You've finished reading through all the recaps so you've probably noticed that I tend to compare Lewis to Rowling a lot. I do so much like the way his protagonists are held to a basic standard of morality and when they don’t live up to this standard, the text points that out, (occasionally, the story even punishes them for it) and usually, they improve on this. His heroes go on ethical journeys.

I think it's marvelous how realistic Shasta and Aravis both are in their reactions to their situations and to one another. It's very typical of that early pre-pubescent attitude of hostility that seems usual for boys and girls. (Our modern world has blurred that a lot with it's insistence on sexualizing everything. It is quite *unnatural* to me to hear a fifth-grader talking about a "boyfriend".)

In a sense, Aravis & Shasta were interacting in a way typical for that time (Lewisan time) and now, our contemporary stories have children interacting in a way typical for our modern times. But I confess that like you, I prefer the good old days. I think a case can be made of how that erosion of innocence is linked to a lot of the new problems that modernity brings. But I digress.

It never occured to me that either lion *was* Aslan himself, but rather I assumed they had been *sent* by Aslan.

He he! I didn't even think of that. I just thought it was a coincidence. But then again: [spooky voice]there are no coincidences...[/spooky voice].
jump2narnia From: jump2narnia Date: February 28th, 2009 02:18 am (UTC) (Link)
and now, our contemporary stories have children interacting in a way typical for our modern times.
OH OH Like "The Hunger Games"!! That is an epic book! 8D

Read it now, dammit! D:

It-it's so beautiful and sad and suspenseful and tragic and weird and science-fiction-y and action-packed and funny and akfjdkajflkdsafjkasjfkjalkflkds!
moonspinner From: moonspinner Date: February 28th, 2009 01:43 pm (UTC) (Link)
Adds Hunger Games to must-read list. I've found a lot of gems via spirited recommendations like yours. I guess it's a sci-fi story, not a fantasy?
jump2narnia From: jump2narnia Date: February 28th, 2009 02:15 am (UTC) (Link)
After watching the horror that was Disney’s the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, I’d willingly buy back their filming rights if I could afford to.
Oh noes, a Narnia movie hater! D: Please be gentle with them. ^^;;

My twelve-year-old feminist self couldn’t blame Shasta for being relieved that the mail-clad Tarkaan who may or may not have been shadowing him for the gallows turned out to be a girl barely his own age.

12 year old feminist? xD Shiny lulz...=P

Aravis: “And what business is it of yours if I am only a girl? You’re probably only a boy: a rude, common little boy – a slave, probably, who’s stolen his master’s horse.”

LOL That line is totally EPIC! Another thing I love about the female characters in Narnia is that they don't let the boys push them around. If the boys happen to say something sexist, the girls say something right back at them. Examples:
Polly and Digory bickering like a married couple
Eustace and Jill bickering like a married couple
Edmund saying "that's the trouble with girls, they can't carry a map in their heads" and Lucy's retort, "that's because our heads have something inside them". LOL Buuurn, Eddy Delight! >:3
moonspinner From: moonspinner Date: February 28th, 2009 01:29 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oh noes, a Narnia movie hater!

Ouch. Hate is such a strong one. Will vehement dislike do? ;) Although I could share some of my reasons with you, if you're interested.


12 year old feminist? xD Shiny lulz...=P

:P :P

Another thing I love about the female characters in Narnia is that they don't let the boys push them around. If the boys happen to say something sexist, the girls say something right back at them.

Oh goodness, that retort of Lucy is EPIC!
jump2narnia From: jump2narnia Date: March 1st, 2009 12:06 am (UTC) (Link)
Ouch. Hate is such a strong one. Will vehement dislike do? ;) Although I could share some of my reasons with you, if you're interested.

Yes, please. =3 No doubt you're strongly against "global warming" *winkwink* ;D -shot-

But yeah, I do understand those like you who are mostly against the Disney Narnia films. Nothing wrong with being a book purist, after all. It's always like that with book adaptations. Poor source material often makes better movies, but high quality source material makes worse movies. T_T Such is the mathematics of Hollywood.
moonspinner From: moonspinner Date: March 3rd, 2009 08:52 am (UTC) (Link)
Poor source material often makes better movies, but high quality source material makes worse movies.

I always think of Shawshank Redemption and Forrest Gump as good examples of poor source materials that made excellent films. But it’s not just being a book purist that makes me dislike the Narnia movies. I think I can appreciate a well-made adaptation that keeps the ‘spirit’ of the book if not the exact content. And my favorite Harry Potter movie is the Prisoner of Azkaban precisely because it took the most artistic license with the book.

/rant: start

So my problem with the Narnia movies is precisely that – I don’t believe that Disney, of all studios, in this 21st century can ever make movies that will not violate the ‘spirit’ of the books. What makes Narnia different from Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, and most children’s fantasies is the fact that Lewis poured his Christian faith into those books. It’s not a story of good vs. evil but of Good vs. evil. Aslan isn’t Gandalf or Dumbledore; and Peter Pevensie isn’t Harry Potter and Lucy Pevensie isn’t Frodo. But because Disney/Hollywood has a formula for how fantasy stories should be told, and because they believe their target audience will be ‘uncomfortable’ with religious themes, they will try – and they did try – to twist the books into those formulas. So Aslan is delegated to mere Mentor; Peter goes on his Hero’s Journey; Susan – poor Susan, as if she doesn’t suffer enough already – gets to be Nagging/Overly-Cautious Sidekick and Lucy – dear Lucy – gets to wield a knife and cry that she wants to fight because somehow an eight-year-old girl wanting to kill people is more politically correct than battles turning ugly when women fight in them.

/rant: stop

Yeah, I guess ‘strongly against’ is a bit of an understatement. ;) But at least the casting was pretty. :P


Edited at 2009-03-03 08:54 am (UTC)
jump2narnia From: jump2narnia Date: March 4th, 2009 05:12 pm (UTC) (Link)
I always think of Shawshank Redemption and Forrest Gump as good examples of poor source materials that made excellent films.
Left Behind is a good example as well. I mean, the book was horrible mix of bad theology and bad writing and character development, but at least the movie was a bit better in that the characters acted a bit...human. xD

Yes, the Narnia movies did fall back on those old fantasy film cliches, didn't they? =/ LOL But I thought Lucy wanted to fight in the battles was funny. xD I always chuckled when she pulled out her dagger. =P But yeah, you do bring up some good points. A good example of a production that captured the spirit of The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe is the LWW musical I've seen on youtube. You can watch the 2nd act of a particularly good performance of it here:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A276Qaa-dAw&feature=channel_page

And you can also watch the complete musical here:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5xy3vI1g7Go&feature=channel_page

^ I like that version because for the scene changes, all they have to do is change the lighting of the stage and the background on the two screens. =D Even you don't like musicals, at least give those a shot. xD There's some pretty good songs there. =O
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