C. S. Lewis



C. S. Lewis, a well-known author and apologist, is best known by

people of all ages for his seven volume series entitled The Chronicles of

Narnia. As Lewis wrote about the land of Narnia, an imaginary world

visited by children of this world, he had two obvious purposes: to

entertain the readers and to suggest analogies of the Christian faith.

Although some feel that his stories are violent, Lewis is successful at

using fiction to open peoples’ hearts to accepting Christ as their Savior

because he first entertains the audience with a wonderful story.



Lewis talked about how he came to write the books of Narnia, saying

that they "all began with a picture of a Faun carrying an umbrella and

parcels in a snowy wood" (Lewis 79). The Chronicles tell of the different

adventures of English children as they visit the kingdom of Narnia and

fall in love with the lion Aslan. Aslan, "the son of the Emperor over Sea,"

can be compared to this world’s Jesus Christ (Schakel 133). As a child,

Lewis always favored fairy tales and fantasies; as an adult, he decided to

write one (Lewis 60). And so began The Chronicles of Narnia. Rather

than planning to write a fictional book that succeeded in using

apologetics, Lewis admits that the "element" of Christianity, "as with

Aslan," entered "of its own accord" (Hooper 31). Walter Hooper, C. S.

Lewis’ biographer, describes Lewis as being the most religious man he

ever met (Schakel 132). For this reason, no matter what Lewis wrote,

his religion would greatly impact all of his works.



Although Christian symbolism can be found in The Chronicles, Lewis

recognized the importance of getting "past those watchful dragons"

which are people who are not open to the beliefs of Christianity because

they were told they should believe it (Hooper ix). But how should Lewis

go about getting past those who are not open to the idea of Christianity?

He believed that the best way to do this was to present it in a fictional

world, a world in which it would be easier to accept. The audience

grows to love Aslan and everything that he symbolizes; they begin to

wish for someone like Aslan in this world. After finding this love for

Aslan, they will ideally transfer that love to Christ when presented with

the Gospel later in life. It is important to remember that The Chronicles

of Narnia are successful because many readers do not realize the

resemblance of Aslan to Jesus Christ. Even though Christian themes are

present, the Chronicles are not dependent on them (Schakel 132). Peter

J. Schakel, a professor of English at Hope College in Holland, Michigan,

states that a non-Christian reader can approach the book as a fictional

story and "be moved by the exciting adventures and the archetypal

meanings, and not find the Christian elements obtrusive or offensive"

(132). For this reason, "the Narnian stories have been so successful in

getting into the bloodstream of the secular world" (Hooper 99).



Hooper discusses how Lewis will be successful in sharing the gospel if

he can get past the "partition of prejudices" that prevent non-Christians

from accepting the beliefs of Christianity (99-100). In other words, to

get past those "dragons," it is paramount that The Chronicles are

self-sufficient in entertaining the reader (Schakel xiii). It is important to

not describe The Chronicles of Narnia as an allegory, an "extended

metaphor in which objects, persons, and actions in a narrative . . . are

equated with meanings that lie outside the narrative itself ", but instead to

describe them as "pure story" (Schakel xii). The readers should enter

Narnia first with their hearts and only later with their mind (Schakel

134). When the audience begins by interpreting the symbolism evident in

The Chronicles, they destroy Lewis’ primary intention: to entertain. It is

especially important to respond in this manner when reading the stories

to children (Schakel 134). Although Schakel suggests that adults should

begin by reading about Narnia imaginatively and later to reflect

intellectually, he warns that it would be harmful to "explicate the

‘meanings’ of the books" (135). If the audience cannot enjoy The

Chronicles of Narnia as just a story, it will be impossible for them to get

anything else out of it. Schakel believes it is important for the children to

first fall in love with and long for Aslan and then to transfer that love and

longing towards Christ (134). Schakel discusses it well when he says

"children should be left to enjoy [The Chronicles] imaginatively and

emotionally, without being asked to reflect upon