Dr. Juniper Ellis
February 8, 2015
“A Beast Becomes Human through God: C.S. Lewis’s The Voyage of the Dawn Treader and Eek’s Nihilism to Catholicism”
In the chapter, “How the Adventure Ended”, Eustace explains how his human self is rediscovered through his baptismal encounter with Narnia’s God: Aslan. Eustace states, “Then he [Aslan] caught hold of me- I didn’t like much for I was very tenure underneath now that I’d no skin on- and threw me into the water” (116). He forcibly ripped off his scales of his dragon self and left himself very vulnerable and weak. A dragon without its scales is unprotected and its armor scales are what divide it from humans and other furry beasts. Eustace’s scales were his dragon identity to himself and to shed them would mean to renounce his new-formed body without any hope of being restored to a boy’s body. Because the skin is tender and raw, Eustace’s skin must have hurt immensely as he was submerge into water allowing his broken skin to make contract with water. The irritation to the open wounds could have been lethal enough to make him drown. However, he does not drown but swim. After being submerged, Eustace states that, “ it [water] became perfectly delicious and soon as I started swimming and splashing I found all the pain had gone from my arm. And then I saw why. I’d turned into a boy again” (116). The stringing pain the water caused turned into nourishing “delicious water” and he was transformed from dragon to human. He recognized he had to submit himself to Aslan in order to be free and allow his true self that lied dominant to surface. This physical transformation altered his psychological perception of self as well. He recognized it was not his scales that made him a beast but his unwillingness to express his humanity. Now he can be a human identifying with his humility and acceptance of his limitation instead of a boy isolated from God, his cousins, and Narnia.
Like Eustace, many young children suffer from not being their true identity and wish to escape from the identity as monster that is imposed on them. Metaphorically, it is possible to drown on dry land. Candidly, it is especially when you are young. A young girl like Eek drowned herself in books and schools hoping to die. Unfortunately, teachers and classmates see her waving about accolades like the crew only seeing Eustace waving his stick and claws. Communication was lost between her friends and crew like Eustace’s communication was cut off when he became a dragon and couldn’t articulate his violent transformation. She was not waving but drowning as she ripped off layers of the scales piling up on her skin.
Through many interactions with the God and acceptance to the origin, the solution became obvious to Eek and Eustace. To stop drowning; swim! Move our limbs, interact with the walking bodies of water, fall into the cold unknown and adapt rapidly, and breath and savor the air that must be held and placed to live underwater and emerge. Eek thinks sometimes what happens to the folks who never learned to swim, struggle to swim, or lacked any opportunity to swim. Do they remain drowning on dry land eternally not comprehending it will pass? The pain is not permanent but sometimes reoccurring. The ultimate solution is not a sin but a loss of opportunity of being the love of someone else’s existence. It is possible to drown on dry land. Bless those like Eustace and I who struggle in its barren waters but re-emerge each time to soak off our scales.
Lewis, C.S. "How the Adventure Ended." The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. New York: Harper Collins, 1952. 116. Print.