Summary of Chapter Five: Back on This Side of the Door
Lucy runs to tell the other children that Edmund got into Narnia too. She urges Edmund to tell them about it, but he decides to be mean and denies Lucy’s story. He says they were pretending about a country in the wardrobe. Lucy rushes out of the room. Peter chides Edmund for being “beastly” to Lucy, setting her off by humoring her about Narnia (p. 45). The older children worry that Lucy is having a hard time being away from home and making up stories to compensate. Lucy cries but sticks to her story. She wishes she had stayed in Narnia.
Susan and Peter decide to talk to the Professor about this, feeling it is beyond them. They tell him and are surprised when he asks how they know Lucy’s story is not true? Which is the more truthful person, Lucy or Edmund? They admit Lucy is truthful and Edmund is not. The Professor says they must use logic: Lucy is lying, mad, or telling the truth. She is obviously not mad.
Peter says why can’t the country be found every time then? A real thing should be there all the time. And Lucy said she was gone for hours when she was gone for a minute. The Professor thinks this detail means her story might be true. Another world would have its own separate time. Peter asks if he thinks there could be other worlds like Narnia, and the Professor says yes. He says the best solution is “We might all try minding our own business” (p. 51).
Things get better as Peter makes Edmund stop teasing Lucy. They forget the wardrobe until Mrs. Macready gives a tour of the house to visitors. The children try to hide from the tour because Mrs. Macready told them to stay out of the way. They run into the wardrobe to hide from the crowd of visitors.
Commentary on Chapter Five: Back on This Side of the Door
The other children realize that Edmund is not being fair to Lucy and that he “was becoming a nastier person every minute” (p. 45), but they cannot believe her story because it is contrary to common sense. The conversation with the Professor is important, a sort of justification for the possibility of alternate realities. Susan and Peter expect the Professor to confirm their notion that Lucy is emotionally or mentally disturbed. They agree she doesn’t usually lie.
The Professor tries to justify Narnia through logic. There are only three possibilities logically: Lucy is lying, mad, or telling the truth. She is not mad; she doesn’t lie, so . . . The children are surprised a Professor would agree there could be other worlds “just round the corner” (p. 50). What does not become apparent until The Magician’s Nephew (once the sixth book in the series, now published as the first) is that this is Professor Digory Kirke, the boy who first discovered Narnia and had the wardrobe built of a magic apple tree from there. He tells them, “I should warn you that this is a very strange house” (p. 49).
The Professor makes logic appear to be in favor of a place like Narnia. Peter assumes that something real is “there all the time” (p. 49). The Professor questions this assumption. He brings out that another world would have its own framework, a different time. This conversation now sounds like a discussion of modern physics with its quantum mechanical principles that posit possibilities other than the classical view of cause and effect. The Professor’s wise solution to live and let live favors a flexible point of view.
Finally, all four children stumble into the wardrobe, as if “some magic in the house had come to life and was chasing them into Narnia” (p. 53).
Summary of Chapter Six: Into the Forest
All four children stumble into the forest of Narnia on a winter’s day. Peter apologizes to Lucy for doubting her and shakes her hand. He wants to explore the wood, but Susan complains she is cold. They decide to put on the fur coats in the closet first. No one could accuse them of stealing since the whole country is in the wardrobe anyway. Edmund gives away the fact that he has been here before by saying they should steer left if they want to find the lamp-post. Peter realizes that Edmund has been a “poisonous little beast” (p. 56) to accuse Lucy of lying. He appoints Lucy as the leader. She takes them to meet Mr. Tumnus.
Mr. Tumnus’s home, however, has been destroyed. They find a notice that says he has been arrested and is being held on a charge of High Treason against Queen Jadis of Narnia for harboring enemy spies. It is signed by Maugrim, the Captain of the Secret Police. Lucy explains that she is not a real Queen, she is a Witch and everyone in Narnia hates her. Susan says it does not seem safe here, and they should go back. It is cold, and they have no food.
Lucy says they can’t go back because Mr. Tumnus is in trouble, and it’s her fault. Susan and Peter feel they must do something for someone who helped Lucy. Lucy spies a robin in the snow and wonders if birds in Narnia can talk. She asks the robin where Tumnus has been taken? The robin flies a little ways and gets them to follow. They follow him for about half an hour before Edmund whispers to Peter that they do not know what side the bird is on; perhaps it’s a trap. Peter says robins are always good birds in the stories he has read. Edmund sows a doubt: “How do we know that the Fauns are in the right and the Queen is in the wrong? (p. 62). Then they discover they are lost in the wood, and they are hungry.
Commentary on Chapter Six: Into the Forest
Peter, unlike Edmund, immediately apologizes to Lucy when he finds out she was right. Edmund reveals his falseness when he shows he has been to Narnia before. Peter is angry at Edmund’s meanness, but Edmund just thinks about getting revenge on all of them: “I’ll pay you all out for this, you pack of stuck-up self-satisfied prigs” (p. 56).
The children immediately switch their thinking to this alternate world, Lucy wondering if robins can talk. Peter trusts the robin because they are good creatures in books. Edmund, however, tries to sow seeds of doubt by saying the Queen could be right and the Fauns wrong. After all, the Faun was arrested for treason. The reader never identifies with Edmund’s ideas, however, because through the omniscient narrator, we have seen both Tumnus and the Queen. We also know Edmund’s treachery and his thoughts.
Maugrim’s note makes it clear that the Witch is terrorizing the land of Narnia with her Secret Police. The Faun is accused of “fraternizing with Humans” (p. 58).
Summary of Chapter Seven: A Day with the Beavers
The robin flies away, but they see something else moving among the trees. The animal hides but peeks out from behind a tree putting a paw to its mouth as humans put a finger, meaning to be quiet. He reveals himself as a Beaver. Lucy thinks it is a nice Beaver and wants to go with it, but Edmund again tries to thwart this with his doubts. The Beaver asks if they are the Sons of Adam and the Daughters of Eve? They say yes, and the Beaver says they have to be careful because the trees could be listening and some would betray them to her, the Queen.
Edmund questions the loyalty of the Beaver, so Mr. Beaver produces the handkerchief that Lucy gave Tumnus as a token. Tumnus said if he got arrested the Beaver should meet the children and guide them. Mr. Beaver tells them the news that “Aslan is on the move” and perhaps already in Narnia (p. 67). The moment the Beaver says “Aslan” there is a reaction. The children do not know who Aslan is, but each of them experiences something powerful. They go with the Beaver for an hour, feeling hungry, until they see a dam on a river. Susan says politely, what a lovely dam it is. They go into the Beaver’s house atop the dam, and far away Edmund sees the two hills where the White Witch lives. He thinks her house close and begins to think of Turkish Delight and about being King.
Inside the house is Mrs. Beaver at her sewing machine. She stops and greets the children, telling Mr. Beaver to get fish for dinner. Peter and Mr. Beaver go fishing in a hole of ice and catch trout. Mrs. Beaver fills the kettle, lays the table, and draws a jug of beer for Mr. Beaver, and then fills the frying pan with hot grease for the fish. They have a snug home but not cultured like Mr. Tumnus’s house.
Satisfied with potatoes, milk, butter, fried fish, and a marmalade roll for dessert, they settle after dinner for talk. It has begun snowing again, so their tracks to the Beavers’ house have been erased.
Commentary on Chapter Seven: A Day with the Beavers
The homey meal at the dam with the Beavers in all its detail is as endearing as one of Tolkien’s domestic hobbit scenes or a scene from Dickens. It is comforting to know that even children lost in a wood are taken care of by friendly animals, and that they have every delicious human food the children could want. Lewis includes a lot of humor in the animal scenes and in the scenes of mythical creatures, making them quite English in habit.
Edmund continues acting as the antagonist, questioning the honesty of everyone but himself. He eyes the Witch’s territory, assuming it is close, thinking traitorous thoughts. The alliance of Tumnus and the Beavers indicates an underground rebellion against the Queen, using the human children as a rallying force. Why becomes clear in the next chapter as Mr. Beaver tells about Aslan. The children do not know who Aslan is, but the mere mention of his name produces a profound reaction. Edmund feels horror; Peter feels brave; Susan feels something beautiful like music; Lucy feels like it is a holiday. Each of their true natures comes out around Aslan.