Sunday, December 12, 2010

great line in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader

I haven't read the Chronicles of Narnia series since being a kid, but my wife did a reread of the series awhile back and I trust her memory that the character of the little girl Gail introduced in the movie version of The Voyage of the Dawn Treader is absent from the book. I am that much more surprised at one piece of brilliant shakla v'terya in the dialogue that must have been put in by the screenwriters and not C. S. Lewis himself. At least it shows someone was thinking while writing the script and not just figuring out how to mold the story into a special effects feast.

Gail's mother has been whisked away (in the movie -- again, not in the book) by an evil mist spirit and can only be saved by Edmund, Lucy, and King Caspian breaking the magic spell she and other Narnians are held captive under. Gail sneaks aboard their ship and tags along for the journey. At one point Lucy tries to console Gail and reassure her that they will rescue her mother -- surely they will succeed with Aslan's help [for those of you raised on a desert island, Aslan = a mashal for you-know-who in Xstianity]. Gail responds by asking a great kashe: if Aslan is powerful enough to help them triumph over evil and find her mother, why did Aslan allow her mother to be taken in the first place? Lucy responds with some generic reassurance of belief (I don't remember the exact line), but the question hangs there for the most part unanswered. It's nice to think G-d is going to help get you out of a jam, but it begs the question of why G-d put you in the jam in the first place.

The Shomer Emunim brings a segulah fro the Besh"T that he calls "haflei va'peleh" because it's so amazing. When faced with a difficulty one should not daven for it to be removed. A person has no real understanding of why he/she faces a given problem or test; demanding a release from it may only ellicit greater kitrug. The probem is there. What a person should do is daven for bitachon, because it is through bitachon that a person will find the strength to get through the crisis.

(With people assering Harry Potter these days [second rate superficial writing that does not come close to Lewis, Nesbit, Dahl, or any of the other greats], I can only imagine what the velt makes of a series like Narnia with its obvious and blatant Xstian overtones. Undoubtedly verboten. I'm sure someone out there must have gone off the derech from too much of The Lion, the Witch, and The Wardrobe. Look at what it did to me -- what else can I say?)


  1. I don't think the movie producers quite appreciated the irony of the question in the context of a movie that takes place during World War II. Even the sea serpent pales in comparison to the real menace of the Nazi machine. And the horrors endured by the victims of the Holocaust were far worse than anything encountered by the inhabitants of Narnia. Of course, that intensifies the question you pose.

  2. It's a real shame that more people don't appreciate Lewis and what he can offer to Orthodox Judaism. Rav Yitzchak Blau has said on multiple times that non-Jewish writers sometimes have a lot more to offer us than Jewish ones. Reading the series from start to finish recently was interesting not only for the great story element, but to see the real depth of the religious "under"tones of the book.

    As far as your question, I haven't seen the movie so I can't comment.

  3. Victor Frenkel's daughter asked him the same question at the end of his autobiography. He told her to thank Hashem for making her better, so she said, why did Hashem let me get ill in the first place. But this is the same as thanking Hashem for any geulah. We thank Hashem for the fresh life that has been given to us. Vayeoru osonu hamitzrim vayeanunu - ai it was Hashem. This is how we live, we are human. Our avodah is to respond according to what impinges on us.

  4. You mean in "Man's Search for Meaning"?

    >>>non-Jewish writers sometimes have a lot more to offer us than Jewish ones.

    Definitely true when speaking of English language material.