“Hope that is seen is not hope.” – Romans 8:24
This book basically takes Lewis’s old standby of Belief vs. Perception and flips over to the other side of the coin, to the sort of thing much more common in everyday life: Believing a lie on scant evidence because it aligns with one’s worldview. That is, seeing things that aren’t there, which can be just as dangerous as the opposite.
“It would have been better if we’d died before all this began. But there’s no doubt about it. Everyone says it is Aslan’s orders. And we’ve seen him. We didn’t think Aslan would be like that. Why, we – we wanted him to come back to Narnia.”
Shift is using the Narnians’ hopes against them. He’s channeling their faith in Aslan toward his own creation which they can “see” and “hear”.
“Aslan! Aslan! Aslan!” cried the Beasts. “Speak to us. Comfort us. Be angry with us no more.”
[…] [Tirian] couldn’t be sure that what he saw was not the real Aslan. He had not expected Aslan to look like that stiff thing which stood and said nothing. But how could one be sure? For a moment horrible thoughts went through his mind: then he remembered the nonsense about Tash and Aslan being the same and knew that the whole thing must be a cheat.
They see this Aslan and hope in him, but he has already failed them. Tirian turns his hopes instead toward the goodness and justice of an Aslan he cannot and may never see.
I think that’s what makes The Last Battle so distinct in this series: Even though it takes place in Narnia, it’s told in such a way that it mirrors “the real world”, in all its grim complexities. Aslan doesn’t just show up and save the day, even if he did in the past. Yet he does aid those who call upon him in faith.
And he called out “Aslan! Aslan! Aslan! Come and help us now.”
But the darkness and the cold and the quietness went on just the same.
“Let me be killed,” cried the King. “I ask nothing for myself. But come and save all Narnia.
And still there was no change in the night or the wood, but there began to be a kind of change inside Tirian. Without knowing why, he began to feel a faint hope. And he felt somehow stronger. “Oh Aslan, Aslan,” he whispered. “If you will not come yourself, at least send me the helpers from beyond the world. Or let me call them. Let my voice carry beyond the world.
Next time: How help came to the King…