As soon as the Witch leaves, Aslan tersely announces to Peter, Susan, and Lucy that they must camp somewhere else. He does not explain why they must move, or what happened between him and the Witch. As the day progresses, Aslan becomes more despondent. Aslan even hints to Peter that he may not be present at the imminent battle between his forces and the Witch's followers. The camp is filled with gloom and trepidation.
That night, Susan and Lucy worry about Aslan, so they cannot sleep. They realize that Aslan has left the pavilion, and they quickly leave to find him. Susan and Lucy spot Aslan and run to him, and beg to follow. Aslan agrees, as long as Susan and Lucy leave when he tells them to. As the three travel together, Aslan becomes increasingly depressed and apathetic. He pleads for human contact so he can alleviate his loneliness. At last they reach the Stone Table, and Aslan bids the children to leave. Instead, Susan and Lucy hide behind a bush.
Lucy and Susan watch as hundreds of monstrous creatures surround Aslan and the Stone Table. These are horrible creatures from mythology and the darkest realms of the imagination. At the center of these awful creatures is the Witch. The Witch expects Aslan's arrival, and she tells her servants to tie him up. At first the servants are hesitant, but when Aslan does not resist, they are thrilled to oblige. The Witch's servants humiliate Aslan further by shaving off his mane, muzzling him, kicking him, and jeering at him. Aslan does not protest. The servants finish binding Aslan to the Stone Table and the Witch approaches him with her stone knife. The Witch tells Aslan that he is lost. The Witch says she will kill Aslan instead of Edmund as they agreed. This sacrifice will appease the Deep Magic. The Witch, however, explains that once Aslan is dead there will be nothing to prevent her from killing Edmund, as well as the other three children. Once Aslan is gone, the Witch will be Queen of Narnia forever. Lucy and Susan cover their eyes so they do not see the Witch murder Aslan.
The book's Christian allegory becomes clearer in this chapter. Aslan's despondency mirrors Jesus's agony in the garden of Gethsemane, when he struggled to face his impending crucifixion. Aslan's warning that he may not be at the battle suggests that does not know of his own resurrection. While writing this book, Lewis was aware of a school of thought that Jesus himself did not know he would be resurrected following the crucifixion. Similarly, Aslan feels hopeless and seems unaware that he will rise from the dead. Despite this, Aslan still gives up his life so Edmund can live. Lewis does this to show how much Aslan, like Christ, must love us. Aslan would sacrifice his life permanently, even for an ordinary, sinful human being.
The murder of Aslan adheres very closely to the Christian story of Jesus. Although Lewis had altered some of the circumstances because Aslan is a lion, the basic elements remain the same. The Witch's servants torture, humiliate and mock Aslan, yet Aslan's patience endures. The chapter concludes with hopelessness and sadness. The death of Aslan seems final. Once Aslan is dead, there will be no one to stop the Witch from attaining power and committing atrocities. Aslan was Narnia's one hope, and once he is dead, the Witch will be able to reign over Narnia forever. Aslan's sacrifice almost seems foolish—what is Edmund's life compared to Aslan's? A skeptic would give up all hope now that Aslan is dead. Even believers like Susan and Lucy find it difficult to be optimistic.
Perhaps the only drawback to Lewis's allusion to the Christian legend is that we may realize that Aslan will be resurrected and miss the full effect of Aslan's death. None of the book's characters think that Aslan will come back to life. Similarly, most readers think that the situation in Narnia is hopeless. Lewis wants us to feel the full weight of despair at the death of Aslan. Lewis wants to recontextualize the story of Christ so that we can truly feel the devastation of Jesus's crucifixion.
Take a Study Break
Every Shakespeare Play Summed Up in a Quote from The Office
Every Book on Your English Syllabus, Summed Up in Marvel Quotes
A Roundup of the Funniest Great Gatsby Memes You'll Ever See
QUIZ: How Many of These Literary Jeopardy! Questions Can You Answer Correctly?
7 "Crazy" Women in Literature Who Were Actually Being Totally Reasonable
Honest Names for All the Books on Your English Syllabus
QUIZ: Are You a Hero, a Villain, or an Anti-Hero?