This chapter begins with all four of the children realizing that they’re stuck in Narnia for the long haul. The Robin leads them to Mr. Beaver, who provides a token from Mr. Tumnus (the handkerchief Lucy gave him upon her first visit) and then brings them to his home for dinner.
I never noticed before just how important Mr. Tumnus is to the plot of this book, but there it is. He’s been mentioned in every chapter he didn’t appear in (so far), his arrest is what makes the children decide to stick around despite their initial unease, and now in this chapter it becomes clear that Tumnus told Mr. Beaver to keep an eye out for the children before he was arrested. That realization just makes me sad about how the 2005 movie turned out, of course, because the relationship between Lucy and Tumnus was one of the best parts of it, but they shuffled it off to the sidelines in favor of their more epic “revolution” plot.
But in the middle of this otherwise uneventful chapter, there’s this:
“They say Aslan is on the move – perhaps has already landed.”
[…] At the name of Aslan each one of the children felt something jump in its inside. Edmund felt a sensation of mysterious horror. Peter felt suddenly brave and adventurous. Susan felt as if some delicious smell or some delightful strain of music had just floated by her. And Lucy got the feeling you have when you wake up in the morning and realize that it is the beginning of the holidays or the beginning of summer.
After this experience, of course, everyone but Edmund is fully convinced that Mr. Beaver is trustworthy and that he represents the “good guys” (and Edmund is too hungry to pass up an offer of supper, so he doesn’t complain, preferring to brood quietly while the others help with the food). It represents a turning point in the book, building up a sense of expectation that there’s more going on than simply rescuing Tumnus. Speaking of Edmund and Tumnus, it’s interesting how Edmund inadvertently leads his siblings to join the very people he’s convinced are “the wrong side” by way of his casual betrayal of Tumnus. If he hadn’t brought it up to the White Witch, she probably wouldn’t have found out, and if Tumnus hadn’t been arrested, they might just as easily have had tea with him and gone home (or at least gone back to pack some things, in which case they probably wouldn’t have been able to get back).
There really isn’t much left to say about this chapter. As I said, it’s relatively uneventful, although it certainly succeeds in building that atmosphere of expectancy. The Beavers’ dam has a pleasant, homey feel, but it’s clear that it won’t stay that way for too long:
“And now,” said Mr. Beaver, pushing away his empty beer mug and pulling his cup of tea towards him, “if you’ll just wait till I’ve got my pipe lit up and going nicely – why, now we can get to business. It’s snowing again,” he added, cocking his eye at the window. “That’s all the better, because it means we shan’t have any visitors; and if anyone should have been trying to follow you, why he won’t find any tracks.”
Next chapter: Answers.