The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe: Novel Summary: chapter 14-16
Summary of Chapter Fourteen: The Triumph of the Witch
Aslan orders his army to move to the Fords of Beruna, since the hill of the Stone Table will be needed for other purposes. Everyone eats and then takes down the tent and begins to march. Aslan walks next to Peter and explains their war plan. The Witch will probably try to fall back to her house and prepare for a siege, but Peter leading the troops must try to cut her off. Then the castle must be taken. Peter says surely Aslan will be there to lead them, but he says he cannot promise it.
Susan and Lucy walk with Aslan and notice he is sad. His mood affects everyone: “It was as if the good times, having just begun, were already drawing to their end” (p. 147). That night Susan and Lucy can’t sleep and go out of the tent. They see Aslan walking into the wood and follow him. They beg to follow him and go with him. He is happy to have company, but they can only go a little way with him. He says he is sad and lonely and asks them to hold on to his mane.
When they get to the Stone Table, he tells them to hide, and they cry and kiss him. The Witch and her army are around the Stone Table. They jeer at Aslan as he allows himself to be tied up. They shave off his beautiful mane, as the girls watch, crying. He is lifted to the Stone Table, and the Witch kills him.
Commentary on Chapter Fourteen: The Triumph of the Witch
The Witch says to Aslan’s dead body that he has not saved Edmund, for now she can kill him with Aslan out of the way. Now she will rule Narnia forever. Aslan’s noble gesture of giving himself as a substitute for Edmund is witnessed by the girls. It seems the Witch has her way.
This is of course analogous to the passion of Christ on the cross, giving himself to appease God’s law that sin must be paid for. Aslan is innocent but allows himself to be a sacrifice to fulfill the words written on the Stone Table. He is the Emperor’s son and honors his law. He has given Peter instructions for what to do to defeat the Witch, but with Aslan himself dead, it looks hopeless.
Summary of Chapter Fifteen: Deeper Magic From Before the Dawn of Time
The Witch leaves with her army to prepare for war. The girls kiss the dead body of Aslan and cry all night by his corpse. Finally, little field mice come to nibble away the ropes holding him. In the dawn, the Stone Table suddenly cracks in two, and the girls see the body is gone. Behind them, however, Aslan stands whole, larger than before. Aslan licks the girls, who kiss him.
He explains to them there is a Deeper Magic from before Time that says when an innocent victim is killed in a traitor’s stead, Death will start working backward. Aslan and the girls play tag and laugh. Then he roars and gets to work. The girls ride on his back. They go to the castle of the Witch, and Aslan leaps over the wall where they land in a courtyard full of statues.
Commentary on Chapter Fifteen: Deeper Magic From Before the Dawn of Time
This is Lewis’s version of the Resurrection when Christ is found missing from the tomb, by the women who come to tend the grave. He is risen in a larger and stronger body. Now Aslan is free to use his supernatural gifts to defeat the Witch. He runs and flies with the girls on his back: “That ride was perhaps the most wonderful thing that happened to them in Narnia” (p. 165).
The narrator frequently turns to the reader to make analogies. To picture the ride on Aslan, he asks us to imagine galloping on a horse but twice as fast as on a racehorse, on a mount that never loses its footing and does not need to go by a road. Aslan is clearly in charge, and we wait to see how he will put things to right. He knows a Deeper Magic than the Witch. She only knows Death. Aslan knows how to defeat Death itself because he is Life.
Summary of Chapter Sixteen: What Happened About the Statues
Lucy says the Witch’s castle looks like a museum with all the stone animals and creatures. Aslan breathes on the stone lion, and it begins to come to life. He does the same to the rest, and the castle now looks like a zoo with all the creatures running around Aslan, dancing and shouting for joy. Then he breathes on the stone giant, and the girls are worried, but this is the good giant, Rumblebuffin. Lucy is excited to find Mr. Tumnus, and when he comes to life they dance.
Now they wonder how to get out of the castle, but Aslan calls on Rumblebuffin to break down the gates. Aslan orders everyone to sort themselves so they can find and join the battle against the Witch. The smaller animals ride on the larger creatures such as lions, centaurs, horses, eagles, and unicorns. Once they pick up the scent, it sounds like an English fox-hunt with the mixed roars and barks. Finally they reach the place of battle where Peter and Edmund and Aslan’s army have been desperately fighting the Witch and her goblins. There are statues all over the battlefield, so the Witch is using her wand.
Aslan flings himself on the White Witch to her utter horror. All the other newcomers attack the enemy, and Rumblebuffin crushes many of the foe with his club.
Commentary on Chapter Sixteen: What Happened About the Statues
This chapter demonstrates the new law of life and the defeat of death that Aslan brings to Narnia, just as Christ brought eternal life to humans after they die. The statues symbolize a state of death, and his breath undoes that. All of Aslan’s army represents the different kinds of creature s of Narnia working together in harmony to defeat evil.
Even in the middle of a serious moment, Lewis inserts his usual humor. Rumblebuffin is a typical giant who is not very bright, but at least he is one of the nice giants. The narrator remarks that giants are rare in England now and “so few giants are good-tempered” that everyone appreciated Rumblebuffin’s help breaking down the door. In fact, Lucy gives him her handkerchief to wipe his sweaty face, and he dutifully rubs it to and fro as he is bidden, though it is the size of “a saccharine tablet” (p. 173).
Summary of Chapter Seventeen: The Hunting of the White Stag
The battle is over in a few moments with most of the enemy killed in the first charge. When the remains of her army see the Witch is dead, they flee. Peter and Aslan shake hands.
Peter gives credit to Edmund who saved them from defeat by smashing the Witch’s wand, but he was severely wounded. Mrs. Beaver is taking care of Edmund, and Aslan tells Lucy to give him some of her magic cordial. She wants to stay with Edmund, but Aslan tells her she must tend to the other wounded as well. Aslan breathes on the statues and brings them all back to life.
That night they all sleep where they are, and somehow Aslan provides food for all of them. They have a high tea in the evening on the grass. The next day they reach the castle of Cair Paravel, once the Witch’s castle, but now it will be the seat of the new government of Narnia. The children go to the beach and play in the sand, but the next day is serious as Aslan crowns them the Kings and Queens of Narnia. Aslan remarks, “Once a king or queen in Narnia, always a king or queen” (p. 182). Through the open doors they hear the voices of mermen and mermaids singing.
They give honors to Tumnus, the Beavers, and Rumblebuffin, and to all the heroes of the war. There is a great celebration during which Aslan disappears. Mr. Beaver says Aslan is very busy with other countries to care for, but he will drop by. The children rule well and make new laws. They grow into wise adults, and only remember their life on earth as a dream.
One year the White Stag is spotted, and they all ride out to capture him to get wishes. He leads them to the lamp-post in the forest, and they begin to remember something familiar. Susan counsels that they go no farther because all feel as if their fortunes will change. They decide they cannot be cowardly, so they go forward to find the door to the Professor’s house in the wardrobe once more. No longer Kings and Queens in hunting clothes, they are once again the Pevensie children in the same hour they went into the wardrobe. Mrs. Macready is still showing the visitors around.
They feel they have to share their adventure with the Professor to explain why the four fur coats are missing. He believes them and encourages them that they will return someday because “Once a King in Narnia, always a King in Narnia” (p. 188) He warns them not to talk about Narnia much, even among themselves, and not to try using the wardrobe again: “You won’t get into Narnia again by that route . . . It’ll happen when you’re not looking for it” (p. 188).
Commentary on Chapter Seventeen: The Hunting of the White Stag
In this chapter all ends well, and the children become responsible rulers of Narnia. Edmund has changed from the antagonist, the nasty boy, into a “graver and quieter man than Peter, and great in council and judgment. He was called King Edmund the Just” (p. 184). After the battle, Lucy thinks he looks better than he had for ages. It was a “horrid school” where he began to go wrong (p. 180). Aslan’s education has corrected that.
Peter is the High King, “Peter the Magnificent” (p. 183). “Susan the Gentle” is gracious, and Lucy is gay, “Queen Lucy the Valiant” (p. 184). The children forget to speak like English schoolchildren and talk like knights and ladies in a medieval romance: “’Madam,’ said King Edmund, ‘the like foreboding stirreth in my heart also’” (p. 186).
They live in great abundance in Cair Paravel, “that wonderful hall with the ivory roof and the west wall hung with peacock’s feathers and the eastern door which looks towards the sea” (p. 181). Evil has been banished, and humans are once again in charge of the garden where everything can grow in peace.
The Professor cautions the children not to speak of Narnia too much for fear of spoiling it. He says not to bring it up to someone “unless you find that they’ve had adventures of the same sort themselves” (pp. 188-89). They ask how you can know, and he says they give themselves away by their looks and the odd things they say, supposedly like the Professor himself. He tells them they will go to the other world again, for “it was only the beginning of the adventures of Narnia” (p. 189).