The Magician’s Nephew, Chap. 6: Unexpected Plus One

We’re a third of the way through the book, and I’m getting pumped to go back to Narnia! Digory and Polly haven’t quite escaped the clutches of Jadis, but they’re able to escape back to the Woods Between the Worlds and…return to London?

Wait, when do they go to Narnia? No, seriously, I read this, I know Digory and Polly accidentally take the Witch to Narnia. Why are they going back to London?

Well, it turns out I forgot a lot more details in this book than I realized.

The children and Jadis wind up back in Uncle Andrew’s study, and it becomes immediately apparent that Uncle Andrew just got a lot more than he bargained for.

In Charn she had been alarming enough: in London, she was terrifying. For one thing, they had not realized till now how very big she was. ‘Hardly human’ was what Digory thought when he looked at her; and he may have been right, for some say there is giantish blood in the royal family of Charn. But even her height was was nothing compared with her beauty, her fierceness, and her wildness. She looked ten times more alive than most of the people one meets in London.

Maybe that description is a bit cliche now, but I love it. Jadis’s presence also puts Uncle Andrew in his place pretty quickly. I like the contrast between the two. When Digory and Polly see Uncle Andrew in the beginning of the book, they see him as someone fighting and powerful. Compared to Jadis, he’s weak and cowardly. And, it would appear, not too bright, either.

Children have one kind of silliness, as you know, and grown-ups have another kind. Uncle Andrew was beginning to be silly in a very grown-up kind of way.

I’ll give my compliments to Lewis for that one. Not only does he capture the magic of childhood, but also at least one true fact about adulthood as well: that we have no idea what we’re really doing, but pretend that we do.

We also see more of Uncle Andrew’s character; along with being totally unprepared to deal with the consequences of meddling with magic, it turns out he’s pretty lousy at being…well, being an adult. It’s not just the “silliness” of thinking that Jadis would fall in love with him, but you can see it in other details. In one side note, the narrator says that Uncle Andrew has blown through his own money, and quite a bit of his sister’s.

Honestly, I’m a little disappointed that Uncle Andrew ends up being this pathetic. He looks small, literally and figuratively, next to Jadis, and is something of a fraud when it comes to being a true Magician. But he was able to use magic to send the children to another world, and have them return (with an unexpected plus one). Using magic in a world where none exists is pretty awesome, even if he was a schmuck about it. But as soon as Jadis comes into the picture, everything interesting and intriguing about him is out the window.

I guess the moral here is: Playing with magic can be cool, but you’re a jerk and not as cool as you think you are.

That’s a strange lesson.

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