All the characters are moving toward one another, and things seem to be looking up for our heroes – but appearances are deceiving.
There’s an awful lot of “night” in this book – three chapters include the word in their titles, and the vast majority of the action thus far has taken place at night. While night is a recurring motif in Revelations, in this case it’s pretty clearly just meant to represent the darkness of uncertainty without the light of Aslan, not to mention adding to the foreboding atmosphere.
All round them the wood was very quiet. Indeed it was far too quiet. On an ordinary Narnian night there ought to have been noises – an occasional cheery “Goodnight” from a Hedgehog, the cry of an Owl overhead, perhaps a flute in the distance to tell of Fauns dancing, or some throbbing, hammering noises from Dwarfs underground. All that was silenced: gloom and fear reigned over Narnia.
For once, however, everything goes according to plan (or even better than expected) as Tirian and the children set out to rescue Jewel. Still, there’s always that sense of uncertainty looming in the darkness and silence, that feeling that this isn’t the Narnia we know and love, that it’s practically a foreign land.
Jill really gets a chance to shine this chapter, proving herself extremely stealthy. Indeed, she’s a bit too stealthy for Tirian’s taste, as she sneaks off to investigate the stable without telling anyone once Tirian has taken the guard out of commission, returning with a certain Donkey in tow.
“Jill,” said Tirian, “you are the bravest and most wood-wise of all my subjects, but also the most malapert and disobedient.”
One of the running motifs in this book is “disguise”: People are not what they appear, sometimes intentionally so and sometimes not. Tirian and the children don Calormene disguises, while Puzzle is disguised as a lion. Even the approaching Dwarfs alternately appear treacherous or friendly depending on the King’s mood. It can be difficult to tell friend from foe in the darkness.
“Sire,” said Jewel. “Those Dwarfs are coming nearer and nearer. Do we want to meet them?”
Tirian thought for a moment and then suddenly gave a great laugh out loud. Then he spoke, not this time in a whisper. “By the Lion,” he said, “I am become slow witted! Meet them? Certainly we will meet them. We will meet anyone now. We have this Ass to show them. Let them see the thing they have feared and bowed to. We can show them the truth of the Ape’s vile plot. His secret’s out. The tide’s turned.”
Tirian’s being reckless again! In a world of shadows and disguises, the truth can be blinding
Next time: Mainly about Dwarfs…