The truth becomes clear to everyone, but it’s not equally welcome to all.
This chapter, all of the character development comes to a head. Lucy finally displays the resolve to follow Aslan by herself if need be, which in turn forces everyone else to make choices of their own. Edmund stands by Lucy, saying, in his own sour way, that he’ll go with her even if the others refuse (and even though he still can’t see Aslan himself). Peter decides to believe her, too, probably because he wants to make up for not believing her earlier; he naturally still has doubts, but knowing that he’s looked to for guidance (and seeing two of his siblings resolved to split off on their own if necessary), he throws in his lot with Lucy. Susan still refuses, however, even threatening to stay behind, and only acquiesces when she’s all but ordered to come with them.
Trumpkin plays an interesting role in all this as the skeptic. He doesn’t see Aslan and never has, so he defers to Peter’s judgement (since he’s the highest authority in the party). He’s always shone deference and obedience to the highest (known) authority, but only once the authority has proven itself to him. He’s the one who shuts up Susan when she’s dragging her feet, even though he clearly thinks the journey will end badly as like as not. It displays an unshakable trust in what he does know, even if he lacks faith in other areas.
First Edmund, then Peter, then Susan and even Trumpkin become able to see Aslan as they go. When he leads them all to the How, he finally turns to speak to them. Peter apologizes for leading the group astray (and is received kindly in turn), and Edmund gets a simple “Well done.” Susan shrinks away, however, fearing he might be angry with her.
“But I’ve been far worse then you know. I really believed it was him – he, I mean – yesterday. When he warned us not to go down to the fir wood. And I really believed it was him tonight when you woke us up. I mean, deep down inside. Or I could have, if I’d let myself. But I just wanted to get out of the woods, and – and – oh, I don’t know. And what ever am I to say to him?”
After greeting the boys, Aslan naturally turns to Susan:
“You have listened to fears, child,” said Aslan. “Come, let me breathe on you. Forget them. Are you brave again?”
“A little, Aslan,” said Susan.
She listened to fears, and chose not to believe. Because belief truly is a decision – a choice to trust in something that you can’t always comprehend and will, at times, force you into uncomfortable situations. If you only rely on feelings, you’ll never stand for anything, because you’ll drop it whenever it “feels” inconvenient.
Trumpkin can’t even see Aslan until he’s right in front of his nose (and speaking to the others), and Aslan in turn picks him up and tosses him in the air, proving just how real he is.
“Son of Earth, shall we be friends?” asked Aslan.
And they say he has no sense of humor…
The chapter ends with Peter, Edmund, and Trumpkin going into the How to “deal with what [they] will find there,” while the girls enjoy a romp with the spirits that are awakened by Aslan’s roar. If the situation seems a bit familiar, it’s probably because it is almost exactly like the end of LWW, no matter the protestations; there’s just less emphasis on the fact that he’s separating the girls from the boys and keeping them out of harm’s way. But we’ll get back to that later.
Until next time…