(urth) OT: The Problem of Susan

James Wynn thewynns at earthlink.net
Fri Nov 5 15:57:12 PST 2004

I haven't read "The Problem of Susan", but I have read "Narnia" several
times so I will butt in on only one point.

>Like near-'bout eveyrthing else
>in Narnia, the "lipstick" bit is there for a polemic point - a point
>further driven in by the statement that Susan is "no longer a
>Friend of Narnia," that she regards Narnia as a "game we used
>to play."

>I, and I suspect most others who criticize Lewis, certainly "get" Lewis's
>point. Our point is that as his exemplar of someone who had turned their
>back on God, Lewis chose a girl whose "fault" is to be preoccupied with
>those things that most adolescent girls in his society were preoccupied
>with. No doubt you'll retort that it was just by chance that his exemplar
>was a girl, and has no larger significance; I'm not so sure.

The point about the "lipstick and nylons" was that she turned her back on
all things of childhood - such as Narnia (which, in life, only children
could enter). "Whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a child shall
not enter in at all" (Mark 10:16). This it the reference Lewis seemed to be
reaching for.

Susan, most significant among all the Narnian heroes as especially
beautiful, was an obvious choice for this type of temptation: to reject
childhood for the *trappings* of adulthood. Had C.S. Lewis chosen Peter for
this role instead, he would doubtless have had him all wrapped up in
"business" or "science". But these are less elegant symbols than "lipstick"
(remember that Susan's rejection of Narnia is explained in 3 or 4
sentences), and anyway the lure of adulthood is profoundly different for
boys than it is in girls and so I would say that Susan was simply the better
choice. She just was. It wasn't misogynistic.

~ Crush

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