IT’S A COOKBOOK!
I’m starting to understand why I disliked this book as a child, and also why it’s by no fault (or at least few faults) of the book itself. Dark humor and flawed, realistic characters just weren’t my cup of tea. Also, for some reason which has always eluded me, I just can’t stand stories that involve the threat of cannibalism; to this day, sufficiently gruesome cases will make me nauseous. Oddly enough, I never had the same reaction to animals with similar threats hanging over their heads (I loved Babe and Charlotte’s Web).
So, yeah…cannibalism! The “Gentle Giants” may be civilized, but they evidently have no qualms about eating virtually any creature smaller than themselves, sentient or not. This is the thing worth knowing which they discover. It also explains why the Giants were always treating them like babies – because they weren’t treating them like babies, they were treating them like animals.
“They’re dear little things at that age,” said one giantess to another. “It seems almost a pity…”
Yeah, that’s how people talk about the little pig they plan to eat for Christmas dinner (or would, if said pig was free to roam about the house and generally be as adorable as it pleased). Apparently “man-pies” are a traditional dish for the Autumn Feast. If the Lady of the Green Kirtle knew about the Autumn Feast, she definitely knew she was sending these kids to their death.
Anyhow, our first significant clue about this comes when Puddleglum discovers that the food they were given to eat was once a Talking Stag.
This discovery didn’t have exactly the same effect on all of them. Jill, who was new to that world, was sorry for the poor stag and thought it rotten of the giants to have killed him. Scrubb, who had been in that world before and had at least one Talking beast as his dear friend, felt horrified; as you might feel about a murder. But Puddleglum, who was Narnian born, was sick and faint, and felt as you would feel if you found you had eaten a baby.
And then while they’re waiting in the kitchen for the cook to doze off so they can make their escape, Jill happens to glance at one of the giant’s cookbooks. Needless to say, the contents make them far more eager to escape.
A few minutes ago when they had been in the kitchen, she had thought that if only they could once get out of the castle, their escape would be almost complete. She now realized that the most dangerous part of it was still to come.
Once the King’s hunting party returns, the three of them make a dash for the ruined city, and discover that there’s a crevice of some sort beneath the stones of the stairsteps – leading under the city. They block up the hole behind them, and after a little exploring, they find themselves slipping down a stony slope for a very long time. They all reach the bottom without any serious injury, but they have no light.
Long, long afterward, without the slightest warning, an utterly strange voice spoke. They knew at once that it was not the one voice in the whole world for which each had secretly been hoping; the voice of Aslan. It was a dark, flat voice – almost, if you know what that means, a pitch-black voice. It said:
“What make you here, creatures of the Overworld?”
Until next time…