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.”
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