Friday, July 08, 2005

Story Synopsis: Sailing the Pevensies

As a new summer begins, the Pevensie children have been split up. While Peter and Susan are away, Edmund and Lucy go to stay with their cousin, Eustace Scrubb. Eustace doesn’t like his cousins very much and the feeling is mutual. Eustace is an annoying child who likes to bully and generally be a royal pain, unlike Lucy and Edmund—who are just royal.

One day Lucy and Edmund reminisce about Narnia while looking at a painting. Eustace teases them about Narnia, which he believes is made-up nonsense, and criticizes the picture. Lucy says she likes it because it looks like the ship is really moving. Eustace moves toward the picture wanting to smash it. Edmund springs after him because he knows magic is at work. Lucy grabs at Edmund and they all fall into the picture and then into the sea.

They are quickly rescued and when they are on the ship, the Dawn Treader, they find their rescuer is their friend Caspian, the King of Narnia. Edmund and Lucy are overjoyed, but Eustace is cranky and wants to go home, especially after he sees Lucy and Edmund’s other friend Reepicheep, the valiant mouse. Eustace hates mice.

Caspian explains that the purpose of his voyage is to search for the seven lords who had been sent by his late uncle Miraz to explore the unknown Eastern Seas. Caspian swore an oath to Aslan that he would find them or learn of their deaths and avenge them. Reepicheep has an even higher hope—to find Aslan’s country at the eastern end of the world. Cranky Eustace’s goal is to stay in his cabin and be seasick, but Lucy cures him of his seasickness with a drop from her diamond flask, which Caspian has brought along. Eustace thanks them by demanding to be dropped off at the first port where he intends to “lodge a disposition” with the British consul.

Their first port is Felimath of the Lone Islands, where there is no British consul—but there are slave traders, which they find out when they walk across the island and are captured by them. Fortunately for Caspian he is quickly sold to an honest-looking man who turns out to be the first of the Seven, Lord Bern. Caspian reveals his true identity to Bern, who swears allegiance to Caspian.

Bern and Caspian rejoin the Dawn Treader on the other side of Felimath and plan to deal with the slave traders and the governor at Narrowhaven on the neighboring island of Doorn. The ship’s company arrives impressively wearing armor and they confront the corrupt governor, who is removed by Caspian and replaced by Bern. Their next act is to go to the slave market and free all the slaves including Edmund, Lucy, Reepicheep who were sold—and Eustace, whom no one would have even for free.

After refitting the ship they set sail for unknown waters. They have fair sailing for a few days, but one evening clouds build in the west. A storm comes up behind them very fast and lasts for days, badly damaging the ship. Now in a dead sea, they are forced to ration water. Eustace feels he is being badly treated and also feels he should get more water because he feels ill, not being willing to realize that everyone is ill for lack of water. One night Eustace is desperate enough to try to steal some water, but Reepicheep, who is guarding the water supply, catches him. Eustace has to apologize and Caspian warns that anyone else caught trying to steal water will get “two dozen”—and he doesn’t mean Krispy Kremes.

The wind comes up again and after a few days they reach an island of tall mountains. The ship’s company goes ashore and after refreshing themselves start the work of repairing and replenishing the ship. Eustace decides he deserves some rest and sneaks off into the woods. He goes up a slope looking for a cool place in the mountains, but soon clouds close in and he lies down and tries to get comfortable.

Unusually, he feels lonely. He leaps up and begins a descent, but he chooses the wrong way and finds himself in an unknown valley. To make matters worse, he discovers he is sharing the valley with a dragon—albeit a tired, old-looking dragon. In fact, the oblivious dragon rolls over and dies in a pool of water. This relieves Eustace, but then it begins to rain and he dashes to the dragon’s cave. There he finds the dragon’s treasure, including a jewelled band that he pushes onto his arm. He lies down on a pile of coins and goes to asleep.

When he wakes up he is afraid another dragon is in the cave in with him because he sees whiffs of smoke and two dragon arms. He races out of the cave, and when he gets to the pool he sees his reflection in the moonlight. He has become a dragon! He feels a terrible loneliness. He decides he will climb out of the valley and when he attempts a jump he finds himself flying. Meanwhile, all the others are worried that Eustace is missing and they mount a search party. They became even more worried when they spot a dragon flying over the trees above them.

The dragon lands on the beach, and in the morning Caspian and company approach expecting a battle, but find the dragon has no desire to fight. In fact, it is in pain from the armband that is now very tight on its big dragon arm. Caspian sees by its markings that the armband belonged to Lord Octesian, another of the missing Seven. They wonder if the tearful dragon is Lord Octesian. They discover the dragon can understand what they are saying and after many questions determine the dragon is actually Eustace.

Eustace is very sorry for how he had behaved before. As a dragon he becomes very helpful, hunting wild goats and locating a new mast. He can even keep everyone warm by starting a fire or letting everyone sit next to him. He is happy being liked, but he is not happy being a dragon and often leaves the group to lie by himself.

Early one morning Edmund wakes and sees a figure walking near the woods. When he confronts it, he is surprised to see it is Eustace restored. Eustace explains that during the night a great lion appeared and led him to a garden at the top of a mountain. There was a wide well in the garden and Eustace wanted to get into the well to bathe and, hopefully, relieve some of the pain in his arm. But the lion said he must undress first. Eustace removed a layer of his scaly skin, then another, and another, but each time he still had the same rough scaly dragon skin underneath. Then the lion told him that he must have help. The lion cut deep and tore off all the dragon skin, which hurt more than anything Eustace had ever felt. Then when Eustace got into the well he discovered he was no longer a dragon. The lion dressed him, and Eustace found himself back at the edge of the wood.

Edmund explains that Eustace has seen Aslan. From that point forward Eustace begins to be a better boy. He still has lapses, but his healing has begun.

They soon set sail from what they come to call Dragon Island. After many days—and a narrow escape from an enchanted spring which had turned one of the missing lords into solid gold—they come to an island that appears to be inhabited. The lawns and gardens are obviously tended and they find a path that leads to a quiet-looking house. Lucy falls behind to get a rock out of her shoe and hears a loud thumping approach her. Then she hears voices around her, but she can’t see anyone. The Thumpers are invisible. The voices say they are going to attack the company from the Dawn Treader. Then the thumping moves toward the ship. Lucy goes to warn the others and they all go back to the ship to risk whatever waits there. They are confronted by the invisible people at the beach and find out that they had made themselves invisible because the magician that lives in the house has put an “uglifying” spell on them. Now they want Lucy to read a spell to take off the invisibleness.

Her companions advise against it, but Lucy agrees, as she sees no other way out of the predicament. The next morning Lucy goes upstairs in the house to a room where she finds the Magic Book. After nearly becoming enchanted herself, she finds the spell and makes everyone visible again—including Aslan. Lucy is very happy to see the lion, who introduces her to the magician. He takes her out to meet the Duffers who sent her to read the spell. At first she thinks there are many odd-looking large mushrooms on the lawn, but when the clock chimes three they roll over and stand up. It is the Duffers. They are “monopods,” with one thick leg and an enormous foot—and they jump to move thumpingly about.

Lucy likes them very much and eventually the rather stupid Duffers are convinced they are not ugly. The Duffers even like the name Monopods, but they keep getting it wrong and eventually call themselves Dufflepuds.

After more sailing—and an episode in which another of the missing Seven is picked up at sea off shore of a mysterious Dark Island—the party comes to another island where they find a large oblong space flagged with smooth stones and surrounded by tall gray pillars. A long table runs from end to end within it and on the table is laid an amazing feast. They find at one end of the table three men asleep and overgrown with their own hair. Eeww! They also discover that these are the remaining missing lords. The party decides the feast must be enchanted, but Reepicheep, Caspian, Edmund, Lucy, and Eustace decide to stay all night with the sleepers.

During the night a tall, beautiful girl comes out of a doorway in the hillside. She is carrying a candle that she sets on the table near a cruel-looking stone knife. She asks them why they do not eat from Aslan’s table, and they explain their hesitancy. She tells them the sleep was caused when the men were quarrelling and one of the men threateningly picked up the stone knife—which was the very one the White Witch used to kill Aslan at the Stone Table.

Reepicheep has Caspian pour him some wine, and he drinks to the lady and dines. The others soon follow suit. Presently an old man who seems to glow also walks out of the the hillside. He comes to the table opposite his daughter and they begin to sing beautifully. Soon the gray clouds in the east lift and the sun rises. Then out of the sun many large white, singing birds fly to them and land on everything, even the travelers. The birds get busy around the table and when they rise the feast is consumed. Finally the old man turn to the travelers and welcomes them.

Caspian asks him how they can remove the enchanted sleep from the lords. The man, whose name is Ramandu, tells them they will have to sail to the world’s end then come back after leaving at least one of their company behind. That one must go to the utter east and never return into the world. Reepicheep tells Ramandu that is his heart’s desire.

Once they leave Ramandu’s island they begin to feel different. They do not need to sleep or eat much and there is so much light. The sun is much larger here. The sea water is also very clear and potable—“drinkable light.” Although they are already eating little, from then on they consume little else but the water. They also discover that although there is no wind they continue to move eastward at a steady clip. Lucy sees a race of sea-people who dwell on the ocean floor.

One day they see a whiteness stretched along the horizon. When they come upon it, rowers turn the ship broadside and row along it a short way. Doing this they discover that the current they moved in is only forty feet wide. They send out a small boat and when the party returns they bring lily blossoms. That is what the whiteness is—lilies as far as the eye can see. They row back into the current and go on for several days through the lilies.

The water becomes shallower until they must row out of the current and carefully find their way so they do not go aground. Eventually they can go no more. Caspian calls everyone on deck and declares that their mission is at an end, and since Reepicheep has vowed not to return they will find the sleeping lords awake when they return to Ramandu’s island. But then he surprises everyone by saying he is going to accompany Reepicheep. Edmund and Reepicheep tell him he must not, that it would be breaking faith with his loyal subjects if he did that. Caspian is quite upset by this and goes to his cabin after a bit of a tantrum.

When the others go in later, they find Caspian very unhappy because Aslan appeared and told him that he is to go back at once and that Reepicheep, Edmund, Lucy and Eustace are to go on by themselves. There is a grievous parting. A boat with the final four travelers is let down. Then the Dawn Treader turns and begins rowing west. The four do not have to row their boat because it drifts east by itself with the current. As a third day dawns they see the sun rising through a stationary wave. Beyond the wave and the sun is a huge range of mountains that they believe must be Aslan’s country.

Reepicheep says this is where he goes on alone. He takes off his sword, which he says he will need no more, and tosses it across the lilied sea and it sticks upright with its hilt above the surface. He bids the others goodbye, gets into a coracle, and paddles into the current where he is taken up and over the wave. Eustace, Edmund, and Lucy begin wading south along the wave and the water gradually becomes shallower until there is sand and then a flat lawn. They walk until they meet a lamb. The lamb invites them to a breakfast of fish and they sit to eat and it is the most delicious food they ever had.

Then the lamb becomes the lion Aslan. They are all very happy to see him, but not so happy when he tells Edmund and Lucy that they will not be coming back to Narnia again. He promises they will see him again, though. He will not tell Lucy whether Eustace will be coming back. Then Aslan opens a door in the sky and they find themselves at long last back in the bedroom at Cambridge. Eustace is a changed boy.


Blogger Kathy Bledsoe said...

George - I really enjoyed reading you're synopsis! You did a great job of capturing Lewis' tongue-in-cheek and his use of asides in this book. Well done!

7/12/2005 10:25 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

George - Your notes helped me really understand and follow the book much better!Thank you very much

1/15/2008 2:13 PM  
Blogger Marissa said...

George...... I may not have a book of the dawn trader but your synosis has really helped me a lot 2 knw wat's da story lyk (tree cheers!) and i was moping all the tme becuz I cud'nt get any info abt narnia part 3
a million!!

7/07/2008 1:24 AM  

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