Saturday, June 11, 2016

Discussion Questions for “The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe”

Repeating The Challenge

“One day, you will be old enough to start reading fairy tales again.” (C.S. Lewis)

Claire and I are organizing a summer reading project of C. S. Lewis’ classic series, The Chronicles of Narnia. We did this a few years ago when I was preaching at Faith Bible Church and things went very well, including a group discussion of the books at a barbecue dinner party we hosted for everyone involved. That party was a grand success: grilled hamburgers and hot dogs, a large cake beautifully decorated in a Narnia motif, and a scintillating discussion among readers from ages 14 to 82.

Well, we’ve decided to ride into Narnia again this summer. We’re inviting people from the church we now attend (Community Bible Church) but since the program is actually self-propelled, we figured a few of our Facebook friends might be interested too. We are making available a few discussion points and questions that might help you, especially if you’ll be reading them with your kids and/or grandkids.

What do you say? Are you ready for the adventure?

Reading order for the Summer Reading Adventure

1) The Magician’s Nephew
2) The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe
3) The Horse and His Boy
4) Prince Caspian
5) The Voyage of the Dawn Treader
6) The Silver Chair
7) The Last Battle

Discussion Possibilities for C.S. Lewis’ The Lion, Witch and the Wardrobe

(Previous guides have been posted earlier on this blog.)

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 are the names of the four human kids featured in the book?
2) Who is the first of those kids to go into Narnia?
3) What did the White Witch use to win Edmund to her side?
4) Edmund acted badly in the beginning of the book, but he was even worse as he got closer to the White Witch.  We all need to be very careful of who we hang out with, don’t we?
5) What happened to Tumnus, the fawn who helped Lucy?
6) What animal helped guide the children to the beavers?
7) The White Witch is dangerous and powerful, but Mrs. Beaver was confident that Aslan was going to put everything right, including saving all the Narnians.  This is similar to the faith we can have in Jesus eventually setting everything right, isn’t it?
8) What kind of animal was Maugrim?  What was his job with the White Witch?
9) What gifts did Father Christmas give to Peter, Susan, and Lucy?
10) What happened to make Edmund feel sorry for someone else “for the first time in the story”?
11) What did you think about the battle?

Questions for Adults (and kids)

1) Why were Peter and the other kids sent out of London? (A quick study on the children sent out from the great cities of Britain to protect them from the Blitz is in order…and it would be an excellent point of history to share with your young readers.)
2) The wardrobe which provides an entrance into another world has a looking glass on the door.  Hmm. Do you recall any precedent?  (Think Lewis Carroll)
3) Consider the drama that is packed into this brief line which describes the dead, drab effects of evil: “Always winter and never Christmas.”
4) Though Tumnus had been in the pay (and fear) of the White Witch, he found the moral strength to do the right thing for Lucy.  There’s always the chance to start again.
5) Edmund’s fanatical passion for Turkish Delight is a vivid symbol, not only of addictive fixations but of the lying nature of sin which always promises satisfaction but never delivers.
6) Edmund is hooked so badly (on Turkish Delight, on his ambitious zeal for power, his desire for revenge on his siblings) that he’s willing to turn them over to the White Witch. Goodness, talk about the blindness caused by sin and its ability to warp even one’s most natural affections.
7) When Edmund was caught by his siblings in his lies, he could have repented, apologized, and started over.  But what did he actually do? What about us?
8) “Aslan is on the move.”  How does that line move you?
9) The mere mention of Aslan’s name thrilled the children.  But Edmund’s thrill wasn’t a pleasant or uplifting one.  Why?
10) Another of the most popular and profound lines of the series is Mrs. Beaver’s description of Aslan.  “Of course, he isn’t safe.  But he’s good.  He’s the King, I tell you.”
11) In chapter 8, C.S. Lewis attempts to underscore the White Witch’s evil origins by connecting her lineage to Lilith, a figure from an aberrant Jewish tradition.Let me be honest, I think it’s a mistake to legitimize this character in any degree. And, for me, it’s the biggest flaw in the whole series. However, in Lewis’ defense, I’ll say two things: A) He certainly had no idea that the modern era (especially through Kabbalah, New Age, and other pagan influences) would put the obscure Lilith back into play. And B) It’s an example of Lewis cramming all kinds of disparate folklore characters into the same story. I mean, he’s got giants, fauns, wraiths, and two dozen other types of folklore and fantasy creatures from different eras and countries…plus Father Christmas! (It reminds me of the Renaissance Festival we attended with my youngest brother and his wife last year where we saw people dressed up in all kinds of costumes inconsistent with the true Renaissance, including cuddly animals and characters from Star Wars!)
12) Edmund’s bad attitude distorted his imagination, making him feel slights from others that were not actually happening.  Sin infects everything.
13) Father Christmas gave gifts to Peter, Susan, and Lucy which were “tools not toys.”  What do you think about this idea?
14) “Battles are ugly when women fight.”  Hmm. Was Father Christmas being a sexist curmudgeon with that opinion…or is he onto something important?
15) What do you think about using this extended greeting next December?  “Merry Christmas!  Long live the true King!”
16) Consider that Peter didn’t feel brave before his first battle.  In fact, he thought he was going to be sick.  “But that made no difference to what he had to do.”
17) Aslan rescues Edmund by paying his penalty, actually dying in his place.  The symbol of Christ’s substitutionary death for sinners could hardly be clearer.

Discussion questions for the other books in the series will be posted as we go along. Look for those connected with The Horse and His Boy in just a few days.