As Edmund and Peter discuss whether the robin can be trusted, it flies away. Edmund declares that this vindicates his claim that the robin is untrustworthy. The children notice a creature in the woods. The creature turns out to be a talking beaver named Mr. Beaver. Mr. Beaver tells the children that he is a friend of Tumnus. He verifies his identity by showing the children the handkerchief that Lucy gave Tumnus, which Tumnus in turn gave Mr. Beaver, should he be captured. Mr. Beaver tells the children that he has been enlisted to take them to see Aslan The children react strangely when they hear the name Aslan. Peter, Susan, and Lucy all experience delight, whereas Edmund is mysteriously horrified. Mr. Beaver insists on conducting this exchange with great secrecy, for fear of being heard by spies. Spies might be present even among the trees, some of which are inhabited by spirits called dryads. The children begin to ask Mr. Beaver questions, but he responds that it is not safe to talk, and that he will take them back to his house for dinner and conversation.
"And now a very curious thing happened. None of the children knew who Aslan was any more than you do; but the moment the Beaver had spoken [his name] everyone felt quite different."
The children hurry back to the dam and hut with Mr. Beaver. Peter, Susan, and Lucy focus on the dam, while Edmund observes his surroundings and notices the two hills the Witch had mentioned. Edmund begins to dream about slipping away and joining the Witch. However, he enters the hut with the rest, where they meet Mrs. Beaver. Together they all prepare a simple and delicious meal of fish and potatoes. The children are famished, so they eat with gusto. Only when the meal is finished does Mr. Beaver suggest that they get down to business.
The children demand a sign from Mr. Beaver to prove that he is a friend, and he complies by showing them the handkerchief. Lewis seems to be saying that faith is not the same as stupidity, and that following one's instincts does not mean that one should not have a healthy fear or distrust of the unknown. Mr. Beaver does not prove beyond a doubt that he is their friend, but he does provide evidence. For a person with a healthy sense of skepticism, this is sufficient proof to consider Mr. Beaver a friend.
The children's reaction to the name Aslan further suggests Lewis's belief that instinct and emotional understanding are a large component of faith. The children have no idea who Aslan is, yet they react suddenly and powerfully to his name. Aslan is an allegorical representation of Christ, a fact that will become clearer in succeeding chapters. Neither we, nor the children, have met Aslan yet, but his essence and power is so strong that his name alone is enough to evoke powerful reactions. This immediately establishes a mystical aura around Aslan and emphasizes that even without any factual or descriptive background of him at all, his power and influence are overwhelming.
Lewis provides lengthy descriptions of the meal that the children prepare and eat at Beaver's house. His explanation comes from his book of essays Of Other Worlds, in which he discusses the writing of the Narnia Chronicles: "A man, who has children of his own, said 'Ah! I see how you got to that. If you want to please grown-up readers you give them sex, so you thought to yourself, 'That won't do for children, what shall I give them instead? I know! The little blighters like plenty of good eating.' In reality, however, I myself like eating and drinking." It is almost irresistible to look at this meal from an analytical standpoint. It serves as a foil to Edmund's devouring of the Turkish Delight. Here, Lewis emphasizes the wholesomeness of the food and the healthy hunger the children feel. They are completed sated by the meal. Lewis also tells us that Edmund does not really enjoy the meal, despite his hunger, because his palate has been tainted with the "bad magic food." This serves as a reminder that physical desires (such as intense hunger) are perfectly natural and healthy, and that self-denial is often unnecessary. Eating is not necessarily an indulgence in wanton gluttony. Additionally, during this meal, the children dine on fish, which is a common symbol for Christianity.
Lewis, however, never intends for us to lose track of the main point, which is that a good meal tastes great when you are really hungry. The scene is meant to evoke a very simple, homey feel—to make us think, "Wow, that sounds good!" and maybe even make us a little hungry. Lewis enjoys eating and drinking and he assumes that we do too, so he writes a scene about eating and drinking to evoke a sense of simplicity and happiness. Symbolic interpretations of this passage are not incorrect, but it is important to remember that there is more to a book than allegory and symbolism. Lewis's first aim was to write a good story, a story that we could enjoy even if we missed the Christian allegory. This is a goal of all literature. After all, if there was nothing more to The Chronicles of Narnia than a Christian allegory, we might as well skip reading it and head straight for the Bible. Lewis intends to draw his readers into his stories first, and then introduce them the story of Christ and notions of faith.
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