Jill and Eustace suffer from a one-track mind in this chapter, and they’ll suffer more for it later on.
The only things [Jill] thought about were her cold hands (and nose and chin and ears) and hot baths and beds at Harfang.
With Harfang in sight and a regular blizzard on their hands, the children believe that the only way they could possibly survive is to reach the gate before it’s locked. They mistake wants for needs, so they ignore everything that doesn’t help them get closer to the comforts of Harfang.
“Are you still sure of those signs, Pole? What’s the one we ought to be after now?”
“Oh, come on! Bother the signs,” said Pole. “Something about someone mentioning Aslan’s name, I think. But I’m jolly well not going to give a recitation here.”
“Oh, that was next, was it?” said Puddleglum. “Now I wonder, are you right? Got ‘em mixed, I shouldn’t wonder. It seems to me, this hill, this flat place we’re on, is worth stopping to have a look at. Have you noticed – “
Puddleglum’s completely right (as he usually is), but the children refuse to listen to reason.
The Marsh-wiggle followed them: still talking, but now that they were forcing their way into the wind again, they could not have heard him even if they wanted to. And they didn’t want. They were thinking of baths and beds and hot drinks; and the idea of coming to Harfang too late and being shut out was almost unbearable.
I think one reason why I disliked Jill is actually because the narrator defends/explains her actions. He’s all like, “You and I know what she’s done wrong, but let’s not be too hard on her for it.” Lewis never does this for any other characters in any of the other books – he never did it for Edmund when he was betraying his siblings, or Nikabrik when he turned his back on Aslan, or Eustace when he was just plain obnoxious. Of course Jill is annoyed and frustrated and says some things she doesn’t really mean; but when he spends half a page explaining all this, it just comes off as condescending and makes one focus on Jill’s failures that much more (even when Eustace is contributing just as much to the problem).
Anyhow, they finally reach Harfang and find that the gate’s still open.
However tired you are, it takes some nerve to walk up to a giant’s front door. In spite of all his previous warnings against Harfang, it was Puddleglum who showed the most courage.
“Steady pace, now,” he said. “Don’t look frightened, whatever you do. We’ve done the silliest thing in the world by coming at all: but now that we are here, we’d best put a bold face on it.”
The giant that greets them at the door offers Puddleglum some alcohol to “lift his spirits” (it’s never actually called alcohol, of course), and then we get a very drunk Puddleglum.
“Nothing wrong with me,” said Puddleglum. “Not a frog. Nothing frog with me. I’m a respectabiggle.”
Next time: The House of Harfang