Chapter 11: Aslan is Nearer

The book's point of view returns to Edmund. Edmund musters up the courage to ask the Witch for some Turkish Delight, but she refuses at first. Then, she realizes that Edmund could faint on the journey, so she orders the dwarf to bring him stale bread and water. She commands Maugrim to lead a pack of wolves to the Beavers' house and kill anyone they find there. The Witch brings Edmund and the dwarf to the sledge and sets out herself to find the children. Edmund feels miserable—he is soaked to the skin and ignored by the Witch. Now that he is on the receiving end of the Witch's cruelty, he realizes what she is really like. Unfortunately, it is too late for Edmund to do anything about it now.

As Edmund and the Witch ride through the snowy landscape, they see a merry little party of small animals enjoying a magnificent tea. The Witch demands to know where they got the feast. They explain that Father Christmas gave it to them. The Witch is infuriated and turns the small animals to stone. Edmund is horrified, but there is nothing he can do and they continue on.

As they travel, Edmund notices that it is becoming harder and harder for the sledge to move. He soon realizes why, as he can see snow melting in every direction. The sledge becomes lodged in a ditch, and the Witch, Edmund and the dwarf have to pull it out. After it gets stuck in another ditch, they know they cannot use the sledge anymore and must walk. The Witch becomes more and more agitated as they go on and the snow continues to thaw. Soon Edmund sees flowers and other signs of spring. Finally, the dwarf stops and announces that Aslan caused the season to change to spring. The Witch promises to kill the next person who mentions the name Aslan.

Chapter 12: Peter's First Battle

While Edmund suffers on his journey with the Witch, the other children and the Beavers have a delightful time. They know that they can beat the Witch to the Stone Table, since her sledge has become useless, so they are able to relax and enjoy the beautiful signs of spring. That evening they reach the Stone Table—a strange, low, ancient table made of stone and carved with runes and symbols. Beyond it, the children can just barely glimpse the sea. To their left is a golden pavilion, and to their right, surrounded by good creatures of Narnia, is Aslan. The children are in awe of him. Aslan's majestic face inspires reverence and fear. Eventually Peter approaches him, putting the others at ease. Aslan asks where Edmund is, and Mr. Beaver tells him that he has betrayed them and joined the White Witch. Aslan does not reply, but then Peter takes part of the blame, explaining that he was angry with Edmund and that this may have contributed to his treachery. Lucy begs Aslan to save Edmund, and Aslan tells her that he will do everything he can, but that it will not be easy.

Aslan orders the creatures around him to prepare a feast for the children. Then he leads Peter aside and shows him Cair Paravel, a castle on a peninsula where the children will live and reign. Aslan tells Peter that he will "be the High King over all the rest." As they are talking, Peter and Aslan hear Susan's horn, which Father Christmas gave her. She is supposed to blow the horn when she is in danger, as it will bring help. The other animals begin to run to help her, but Aslan stops them and waves Peter on.

Peter runs over and sees Susan climbing a tree, pursued by a huge wolf. She only gets as far as the first branch before she comes so close to fainting that she cannot go any higher. Peter knows that if she faints she will fall to danger. He rushes over and stabs the wolf in the heart with the sword that Father Christmas gave him. There is a short struggle, but in the end the wolf lies dead at Peter's feet. Aslan sees another wolf dash into the thicket and sends his fastest animals after it, saying that the wolf will lead them to the Witch and to Edmund. He then knights Peter, after chastising him for forgetting to wipe his sword.


The petrification of the little party of small animals is really the first tragedy that we have witnessed firsthand in the novel. We know that the Witch is evil, cruel, and will gladly murder others, but we have so far only heard about her character indirectly. So, too, has Edmund. He realizes that Aslan's side is the good one when the Witch treats him poorly, but his belief is initially superficial. Edmund expresses that he does not enjoy being cold, tied up and miserable. Lewis, however, tells us that when Edmund sees the feasting animals turned to stone, "for the first time in this story [he] felt sorry for someone besides himself." Edmund is affected very deeply, and he shifts from self- interest to empathy and pity. Edmund can be misled but he is not fundamentally evil. Edmund's actions up until now have been spiteful and self-serving, but his core of essential goodness has not died, as it perhaps never does in a human being.

Lewis suggests that any sinner, like Edmund, can be reformed, given the right circumstances and an open mind. In Edmund's case he was the object of the Witch's wrath himself and then witnessed the petrification of the animals at feast. This does not make him immune to future temptation and conflict. Edmund has taken the first steps toward reformation, but his redemption is not yet complete. The most important step has already been made, however, as he feels compassion for the poor animals. This does not affect him personally or directly in any way, and his ability to feel emotions for others shows that he has begun to change.

Peter's fight with the wolf represents a fundamental change for him as well: from child to adult. Aslan could easily have slain the wolf himself, or allowed the other animals to do it, with far less risk to Susan and Peter. Instead, Aslan relies on Peter, who has never wielded a sword before. This appears unnecessarily dangerous, but Aslan's actions are intentional and appropriate. Peter, as the oldest, will be the High King, so it is essential that he fight his own battles and gain experience. Aslan could set him on the throne gently, without Peter ever facing danger, and he might do well, reigning justly and with kindness. But Peter would then be incomplete. To reign properly, Peter must discover the valor and bravery within him. Aslan knew that Peter could kill the wolf, but Peter needed to actually do this to become confident in his own strength and ability. Peter's defining personality traits are his courage, strength, and ability to lead others without misusing his power. Aslan insists that Peter fight for Susan alone because it is this battle that initiates Peter's transformation to adulthood.