Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Susan, Aslan, Peter, and the leaving of Narnia at the end of Prince Caspian

[Originally posted at Ana Mardoll's Ramblings.]

So, I've been meaning to write something that should have gone in this thread but didn't.
Because this thing I wrote (also at Archive of Our Own, if you prefer that) basically demands another ending. 
Aslan, Peter, and Susan are alone.
Aslan: I cannot see the future, but I can see enough to know that after you leave this time you will not come back. In this life at least. And so there are some things that I wanted to talk to the two of you about, before you go.
*Peter looks at Susan*
Susan: Aslan, we have to talk.
*Peter makes himself scarce*
Aslan: I wanted to talk.
Susan: Not about what you wanted to talk about.
Aslan: Then what?
Susan: I am not leaving.
Aslan: What?
Susan: I'm sick of being thrown between worlds with no say in the matter. I'm sick of making friends only to never see them again. I'm sick of-
Aslan: Susan, everyone is thrown between worlds at least once-
Susan: This would be my fourth time.
Aslan: And your last time, until you have lived out your days and died.
Susan: Doesn't matter. I made a decision. When I was pulled here against my will. When I was standing in the ruins that had once been my home.  While I was realizing that everyone that I knew and loved here, and even the people I didn't know and hadn't really cared all that much about, had died of old age, I made a decision.
Aslan: I know that this has been hard for you, but-
Susan: And that decision was this: Either I was going to leave as soon as I could (passed the lamppost before I could get attached), or I was staying for good.
Aslan: I had hoped that having you here for a shorter time would ease-
Susan: Well I did stay around, and I did save the world, and I did get attached, and I did make friends, and I'm not leaving.
Aslan: Susan, there are forces at work well beyond my control. Do you think that I wanted Narnia to be conquered? I have to live a life between worlds too and, in spite of what the others might think, I cannot come and go as I please.
Susan: Then let those forces try to force me, not you.
Aslan: I will respect your decision inasmuch as it is in my power to do so.
Susan: Thank you.
*Susan turns away from Aslan as it is polite to do when one is about to shout*
*Peter returns*
Peter: How did it go?
Aslan: That remains to be seen.
Susan: But as far as things between Aslan and myself are concerned it went well. *to Aslan* Given what we just talked about, do you still want me here when you talk to Peter?
Aslan: That's up to you.
Susan: I'll stay.
Aslan: Narnia is in a fragile state at the moment and there are no good options. Instead we have to look for the least bad option. And the least bad option, I believe, is this: The Telmarines who are willing to stay under Narnian rule will remain, and be treated as full citizens. Caspian is their king by their laws anyway so hopefully they can be convinced that they will not be mistreated.
Aslan: Those who are not willing to stay will be given passage back to their original homeland.
Peter: Telmar?!
Susan: They don't even know the first thing about the place and it's not likely to want I giant surge of immigrants on its doorstep.
Aslan: No. Not Telmar. They descend from humans from your original world. The homeland I speak of is an island.
Susan: And what about those already on the island?
Peter: And besides that, they know nothing of our world.
Aslan: The island is uninhabited and undiscovered. When it is discovered their first contact will be no different than anyone else's.
Susan: *suspicious* And why is it uninhabited?
Aslan: I would like to believe that it was a result of natural causes or that those who were still on the island brought it on themselves. That is what I would like to believe. What the truth is, I do not know.
Peter: And what about those who would fare poorly on an uninhabited island?
Aslan: We will provide the group with supplies. Provisions including food, tools, and short term shelters. The Telmarines are not without skills and the island is not without resources. They should be able to build themselves homes and begin to cultivate food well before these things would become a problem. As for those who would not be able to support themselves, I realize that they were until recently your enemy, but understand that they are not without hearts. Hopefully they will be able to take care of those who cannot care for themselves.
Susan: *flatly* Hopefully.
Aslan: I said it was the least bad option. I said that there are no good options. I said that I cannot see the future. *pause* And I haven't gotten to the worst part yet.
Susan and Peter simultaneously: What's the worst part?
Aslan: I can only keep the portal open for one day, no longer and never again. Narnia can offer no support to the island, Narnia can offer no oversight. Once they go through their fates will be in their own hands, and they've never had self rule before. They've been under a king all their lives. It is impossible to know what will happen to them without a leader.
Aslan: Also, those who choose to go and those who choose to stay will never be able to see each other again-
Susan: I know what that's like.
Aslan: Indeed. It will be a dark day, and always remembered as such. It will be a day filled with tears and goodbyes that mean forever. And yet, do you see another path that doesn't lead to revolution?
*Susan and Peter turn to each other*
Susan: Well we could-
Peter: No. It might put off revolution for a while, even a generation, but-
Susan: We'd still have bloody civil war.
Peter: What if we-
Susan: No. That assumes good faith on the part of all parties. We can assume good faith on the part of many, possibly even most, parties, but not all.
Peter: Right. So...
[this goes on for a while, eventually they decide that Aslan's plan is the best bad idea available]
Aslan: Getting you home will need to take place at the same time, I've sent for your clothes so that you don't end up conspicuous in England.
Susan: Why would we need our clothes?
Peter: Last time we were changed back to the exact same state we came in, clothing and body both.
Aslan: While your question makes sense in this moment if you look at things from a non-linear non-subjective standpoint reality is more like a big ball of wibbly wobbly... spacetime-y wimey... stuff, and so...
[Explanation and secret knowledge go here. What is the secret knowledge? It's a secret. Join a mystery cult of Narnia and they might tell you.]
"Come on," said Peter suddenly to Edmund and Lucy. "Our time's up."
"What do you mean?" said Edmund.
Susan: We wanted to tell you earlier-

Peter: But everything was so hectic.
"This way," said Susan, who seemed to know all about it.
Susan: *to narrator* of course I knew all about it, I just told them that I wanted to tell them. *to Edmund and Lucy* This is your time to leave, if you're leaving. So you have to change.
"Change what?" asked Lucy.
Susan: Your clothes. You can't return to England wearing what you're wearing.
Edmund: And must we return?
Susan: I'm staying. If you want to stay I'll support that in any way I can.
Susan: But you need to make up your mind by day's end.  We have a limited window.
Lucy: Why would we need to change our clothes? Last time they were changed for us.
*Peter looks at Susan with the desperate hope that she'll answer*
Susan: Some things don't make sense.
---"But our other things are at Caspian's castle," said Edmund.
---"No, they're not," said Peter, still leading the way into the thickest wood. "They're all here. They were brought down in bundles this morning. It's all arranged."
---"Was that what Aslan was talking to you and Susan about this morning?" asked Lucy.
---"Yes -- that and other things," said Peter, his face very solemn. "I can't tell it to you all.
 There were things he wanted to say to Su and me because I'm not coming back to Narnia and she isn't leaving."
---"Never?" cried Edmund and Lucy in dismay.
Susan: Coming back or leaving?
Edmund: Either.
Lucy: Both.
Susan: I said from the start this was all or nothing for me.
Peter: As for coming back, I won't be but Aslan thinks you will be.
Lucy: What does that mean?
Susan: That given the various delta streams of possibility and probability there is a strong chance that if you leave now you will come back later.
Lucy: *to Peter* But you won't be?
Peter: It doesn't look that way.
Lucy: Will you be able to bear it?
Peter: Yes. I think so.
Susan: I hope so.
Peter: I will miss you.
Susan: Well think about it this way, you'll have the distraction of explaining how you lost your sister.
Peter: *in a 'damn' kind of voice but without the 'damn'* I hadn't thought of that.
Susan: *To Edmund and Lucy* Remember, you have to decide by day's end, no later, whether or not your returning to England. If you decide that you really do want to go back even a moment too late you'll be stuck here. And if you go and then change your mind, you'll have no control over when or if you can return.
Susan: I wish we'd been able to give you more time to make your decision-
Lucy: But you were busy.
Edmund: We noticed.
Lucy: Don't worry about it.
When the Narrator gets to the part where the Pevensies step up as a demonstration and the Narrator counts Susan amoung them:
Susan: I have an entire bag of apples. Nice and hard. Perfect for throwing.
Many years later, an elderly Queen Susan is lying in her bed near death.
A lion walks into the room. Not just a lion, the lion
Susan: Hey you.
Aslan: Hey you.
*Aslan walks closer*
Susan: You haven't aged.
Aslan: One of the benefits of being bounced between worlds.
Susan: Why have you come?
Aslan: I said before that everyone moves between worlds at least once.
Susan: Yes you did.
Aslan: I think you know what I meant.
Susan: I think so too.
Aslan: You're dying Susan.
Susan: *sarcastic* Am I? I hadn't noticed.
Aslan: You're going to leave this world when you do anyway. No choice in that. But I did want to offer you a choice in where you go next.
Susan: What does that mean?
Aslan: Wibbly wobbly. Your siblings are still waiting at the train station, if you want them to be. You can join them there and return to England as the child you left it as rather than pass on to the afterlife. They don't have to live a life without you, you don't have to die just yet.
Susan: Just yet?
Aslan: You are mortal, and you will die. That cannot be changed. But before you do you can return to Earth to live the life you left behind. Or you can die here. It's up to you. Either way you leave this world and move to another.
Susan: And if I do go back...
Aslan: Yes?
Susan: No more pulling me between worlds?
Aslan: There are powers beyond my control, but this much I can promise: not in this life. Not if you don't want it.
Susan: If I'm going back to be a child again I want that childhood to lead to an entire life on Earth, not some way-station until Narnia needs a hand again.
Aslan: We can do that. This can be the end of Narnia for you, and Earth becomes your home until non-Narnian death forces you to the afterlife.
Susan: Then we'll do that.
Aslan: As you wish.
On the platform:
Susan: It's so good to see you again!
Peter: Susan?
*Susan hugs each of her siblings*
Susan: It's been a long time.
Lucy: I thought you weren't coming?
Edmund: It's only been a few seconds.
Susan: Not for me.
Peter: What happened?
Susan: I lived a full life in Narnia, and then on my deathbed Aslan gave me the option of returning here instead of going to the afterlife. I never felt right about leaving you behind, so I came back.
Edmund: But it's only been a few seconds.
Susan: Narnia time.
Peter: It makes no sense.
Susan: There's one other thing. I'm done with Narnia. The life I live in this world is going to be focused entirely on this world.
Peter: So don't talk about it in front of you?
Susan: No, just don't expect me to join in. And if ever, in the future, there should be a call from Narnia, I'm not going.
Edmund: Seems fine.
Lucy: I'm just happy we don't have to be without you.
Or something like that.


  1. Yeah. As good an in-world explanation as any.

    This was being discussed elsewhere recently. I think the whole setup only makes sense at all if one regards it as purely allegory rather than self-consistent story. It seems to me that the intended message is the more reasonable "Susan was once a keen church-goer, but these days she's more interested in fashion and socialising". (With the omnipresent that-sort-of-Christian subtext of "so she will be tortured consciously forever", of course.)

    Lewis, I think, had gone beyond plain faith, as many Christians do - he'd (re-)built so much of his identity and social life around his Christianity that to change again would have been unthinkable for him, and he thought that any committed Christian would feel that way. So for him there's actually no difference between "we all remember having actually had real adventures" and "we all heard stories about Jesus". Just like L&J, he has difficulty working out the mindset of someone who isn't a Christian.

  2. i like it. on earth as it is in heaven...and "in that day the heavens will hear the earth and make a covenant" she is still part of the plan. and its unselfish of her, to care for the earth. she is bringing heaven to earth. I think it hse secret wish inside. like a dying wish. cuz earthly attachments and emotions are as strong as narnia. and I also think narnia gets its childlike feelings from human earthlings. in the first place and she is proving that.