I like the way Lasaraleen’s character was subtly introduced in an earlier chapter when Aravis and Bree are chitchatting about Calormen aristocracy and battles. Shasta’s perspective dominates the story and it won’t have been out of place for Aravis’s friend to be an unheard of character. But it’s good story-telling to have introduced her earlier. I think TV Tropes call it the Chekhov’s Gun.
“Wanted to see her friend now that she was married and a great lady.”Lasaraleen’s primary function is to act as a foil to Aravis. (Although she is an excellent character on her own – more on that later). She serves as reminder to Aravis of all that she’ll be leaving behind when she leaves Calormen.
“Aravis had been thinking about it a lot.”It’s amusingly and perfectly in character for Aravis that she is more bothered by the fact that she’s running away with a common boy than the fact that she’s running away at all. Yet somehow this little insight comes as a shock to the reader because she’s been so steadfast in her decision to travel with Shasta. Unlike Shasta in the previous chapters, who had all but made up his mind to travel to Narnia by sea and abandon his companions, Aravis’s passes her own moment of temptation so effortlessly that if you blink, you’d miss it. The fact that she had been thinking about it at all really shows that she was not indifferent to what she was leaving behind – her family, the protection of her royal status, etc. However, meeting Lasaraleen again is an opportunity for her to see second-hand the life she would have lived – and to realize that she would not have liked it at all.
I love, love the fact that Lasaraleen is presented as a rather silly, bubble-headed girl but in such an endearing manner that we are not supposed to judge her – or perhaps, we are supposed to judge her and Aravis at the same time: “Both girls thought each other rather silly” has the silent implication that both girls were right. She recognizes Aravis despite the rags – evidence that she really isn’t that much of a snob. And she kept her mouth shut about Aravis’s whereabouts even though her own father was in the Palace looking for her, and that would have been a scandal to live off for years. She’s more interested in Aravis being bathed in milk and wearing nice clothes than the tedious details of Aravis’s adventures and I don’t see how I blame her for that. Poor Aravis! Who won’t hate that friend that makes sure you’ve been bathed in milk and dressed in the loveliest of clothes before hearing about your adventures. /snerk
“If only you had sense, you could be the wife a Grand Vizier!”(Plot bunny alert!)
Once more a reminder of how much Aravis loathes her betrothed husband. It’s funny that even next to the vain Lasaraleen, Aravis still remains the bigger snob. Also note that Lasaraleen’s change of heart the next day isn’t based on her flightiness. It’s linked to the Narnians’s plan detailed in the previous chapters to escape under the disguise of hosting a banquet. The party Lasaraleen was dressing up for turned out to be a hoax; the hosts had abandoned Calormen in a dishonest, ungracious manner. At least, that was how it must have appeared to the ordinary elite of Tashbaan. Only the members of the Tisroc’s Inner Circle would understand that the Narnians were running for their lives.
So when Lasaraleen is begging Aravis in tears to reconsider her decision, she’s really acting as a good friend – advising Aravis against going to a land populated by faithless people and possessed animals.
“I’ll be a nobody just like him.”I’m always going on about the shipping in this book but just in case I didn’t make it clear, I really like the relationship between Aravis and Shasta as unfriendly allies who gradually become friends.
Aravis’s side-adventures in Tashbaan first appear to be a side-story, a break from the main story. Up until then, the PoV character (in as much as there is a PoV character in a novel written from the Omniscient Perspective) and the protagonist of the story has been Shasta. But when Aravis introduces herself in the fire-side tale told in the grand old style of the Arabian Nights, we realize that she is the protagonist of her own story. This chapter and the next one puts her back in that role. Her adventures in Tashbaan reveal the background plot (the impending invasion in Archenland), drive the main plot (the foursomes’ journey to Narnia is no longer an escape, but also a mission to save the North) but more importantly, they drive her character forward. As I noted earlier, Lewisian heroes always travel the ethical and the adventurous journey. With this chapter, we realize that despite its title ‘The Horse and His Boy’ is not just Shasta’s story with Aravis playing a role, it’s Aravis’s story as much as it is his own.
Narnian fashions, at any rate for the men, looked nicer.Why doesn’t she admit that she’s finding Narnian men more attractive? :P :P :P
Next: The Secret, Secret Plot. Hopefully the next chapter review will not take as long as this one to get up!