Friday, June 17, 2016

Discussion Questions for “The Horse and His Boy”

Here’s the latest set of discussion questions in the Summer Reading Project. Previous postings here on The Book Den explain the program and include discussion questions for the first two books in C.S. Lewis’ classic adventure series, The Chronicles of Narnia. Please check them out here and here.

As we have said previously, you may not need any conversation starters other than the general questions that work the best for any book discussion. Those questions, of course, include the following. Did you like the book? What did you learn from it? Were there any characters, incidents, passages, or even single lines that made an impact on you? Were there things in the book you had questions about or disagreements? What were some of the most memorable things about the book?

But if you think any of the questions below might add a bit to your discussion, please use what you like.

Questions for Kids (and adults)

1) What made Shasta decide to run away from Arsheesh?
2) What was Bree’s real name?
3) It wasn’t easy for Shasta to learn how to ride a horse.  But he stayed with it.  How about you? Is there something that has taken you a lot of time and practice to learn?
4) Aravis was also a runaway. Where did she flee from? Why? How?
5) There was a strange place outside Taashbaan that people thought was haunted?  What was it called? Was it really haunted? What kind of animal did Shasta meet there?
6) How did the travelers disguise themselves before going into Taashbaan?
7) Talk about mistaken identity!  Who did the Narnians think Shasta was?
8) Who was Sallowpad?
9) What did the travelers have to cross before getting to Archenland?
10) How many times in the story does Aslan show up?  Can you remember each time?
11) Aravis thinks she was “lucky” to have escaped the lion’s attack with only ten minor scratches.  But what was really going on?
12) Aslan tells Shasta that he has waited long for him to speak.  Maybe that should remind us to pray more, to talk to God, and tell Him what’s on our minds. What do you think?
13) What did Duffle and his brothers serve Shasta for breakfast?
14) Describe what the flag of Narnia looked like.
15) What was special about the pool at the Hermit’s house?
16) How did Shasta do in the battle?
17) Why did Bree want to wait a while before entering Narnia?
18) Who is Corin?  Who is King Lune?  Who is Cor?
19) What was Prince Rabadash’s new name?  How did he get it?

Questions for Adults (and kids)

1) Bree was a free horse, a Narnian who disdained to talk “slave’s and fool’s talk.”  It provides an interesting perspective on how one’s noble and liberated position in Christ should show itself in one’s conduct, even one’s speech.
2) Did mere accident bring Shasta, Aravis, Bree, and Hwin all together.  Or does Aslan’s role in the event suggest something about God’s sovereign purpose?
3) Calormen children were taught storytelling as part of their basic education? What do you think about that?
4) Aravis’ escape plan included drugging the maid even though Aravis knew
(and was even glad) that the maid would be unjustly punished.  How is this brought up again in the novel?
5) What’s the one traffic regulation in Calormen?
6) “Easily in but not easily out, as the Taashbaan lobster said in the lobster pot.”  What was the raven referring to here? Do you see any practical applications?
7) We all need to avoid being like the self-centered Lasaraleen who was “much better at talking than at listening.”
8) Why did Lasaraleen think Aravis should marry Ahoshta Tarkaan?
9) What do you think about the father-son relationship of the Tisroc and Prince Rabadash?
10) Consider the contrast between the poetry of Calormen and Narnia.  The first (according to the Vizier) is “full of choice apophthegms and useful maxims.”  While Narnia poetry is that of “barbarians” being “all of love and war.” (By the way, an apophthegm is a real thing. It’s a brief, sometimes cryptic, but more often obvious saying, as in, “The sun will come up tomorrow.”)
11) Bree saw terrible treachery in “an attack in time of peace, without defiance sent.”  Remember, Lewis was writing this novel just a few years after WWII which had started by the Axis Powers doing exactly that in Poland, Austria, and at Pearl Harbor.
12) Shasta’s dismounting to face the lion was impractical and unskilled, but it was certainly brave and thus praiseworthy.  As Bree said later, “He in the right direction.”
13) What do you make of the Hermit of the Southern March?
14) “If you do one good deed your reward usually is to be set to do another and harder and better one.” Do you find this true?
15) Consider the advice the Hermit gave Bree about losing his self-conceit.  It was wise counsel indeed.
16) Aravis mistook Aslan’s mercy for luck.  So did Shasta.  But they both realized eventually just who it was that was involved in their protection
17) One of my favorite images of all the Narnia books is Shasta realizing how dangerous his journey had been when he was walking along sheer cliffs in the fog. After he realized that it had been Aslan who walked alongside him, he remarked, “But, of course, I was quite safe…He was between me and the edge all the time.” I love the sense that stimulates in me of God’s strong and ever-available protection.
18)  Here’s another stirring line from the novel, one particularly relevant to spiritual warfare.  “All swords out now, all shields up to the nose, all prayers said, all teeth clenched.”
19) “Do not dare not to dare.” What’s Going on with this statement?
20) Consider Aslan’s scratching Aravis’ back. What might this suggest about sanctification, the gaining of wisdom through experience, and the discipline of the Lord towards His children?
21) Think about Edmund’s urging mercy be shown towards Rabadash.  Edmund said, “Even a traitor may mend.  I have known one that did.” What’s he remembering?
22) Aslan “seems to be at the back of all the stories.” Is Lewis saying something more than it initially seems here?

Discussion questions for the other books in the series will be posted as we go along. Look for those dealing with Prince Caspian in just a few days.