It’s been a bit crazy around my house lately. Weirdly, most of it isn’t the holidays – we didn’t decorate for Christmas because we’re going out of town and because, well, life. We’ve been trying a two day a week school, with the kids working at home the other days. It’s actually been more work than full-on homeschool, because I have 3 in different grades and they’re all doing different things and I’ve never been big on keeping on track with state standards. Consequently this work has been going pretty slowly. But I finally get to write about how I think the Pevensie girls fit with Lewis’s view of femininity. I’ve written about how I think Peter is masculine from the beginning and Edmund becomes masculine. The girls are a bit different. I believe Lucy is the mature example of femininity and Susan, well, we’ll see about Susan.
Lucy, though the youngest sibling, is in many ways the most mature. Her maturity in femininity is demonstrated by her willingness to accept whatever God sends – facing unexpected adventure, unusual beings, truth-telling, difficult decisions. Her first words, ‘Hadn’t we all better go to bed?’ are intended to smooth over a disagreement and show sensitivity both to everyone’s feelings and to what’s right. When the children find the wardrobe and the others leave the room, Lucy stays behind because, perceptively, ‘she thought it would be worth while trying the door of the wardrobe.’ When she finds herself in Narnia, she simply accepts the adventure – and Tumnus – without complaint or surprise or reluctance. She goes with the flow rather than trying to get back through the wardrobe – though she shows wisdom in making sure to leave the door open (like Peter and unlike Edmund) and making sure she could see the door from the lamp post. She doesn’t cling to safety, but accepts adventure. She enters this cold, masculine world from summer – Tumnus even says she comes from ‘where eternal summer reigns.’ She brings feminine warmth to Tumnus himself – enabling him to cry.
She also shows evidence of maturity that is not necessarily related to gender. When she returns and the others disbelieve her, she shows great courage in maintaining the truth when it would have been easy to lie. She ‘prove[s] a good leader’ when all the children make it into Narnia, leading them directly to Tumnus’s cave. As we know from Perelandra, Lewis saw men and women as both capable of leadership. She recognizes that she’s the reason Tumnus was taken, is the first to notice the robin and recognize that he wants them to follow him, tells the others that Mr. Beaver is nice . . . . Well, you get the idea. She seems to intuitively recognize the right path and be willing to follow wherever it leads.
Other indications of Lucy’s feminine maturity appear in Prince Caspian, the story related to Mars in which Aslan is Martial/masculine. Lucy is the first to see Aslan, as usual. She knows he wants her to follow, but when the others refuse to believe her, she reluctantly follows them rather than Aslan. It’s interesting that Lewis doesn’t tell us in that context whether or not she has done right, but when she finally meets Aslan, he tells her that she should have followed him, even alone. She should have accepted the task he gave her, even though it meant going against Peter, who as the high king was a legitimate authority. The implication is that obeying the higher authority – Aslan – takes precedence over following the lower authority – Peter. After she spends time in Aslan’s martial presence, she becomes more mature in her femininity, willing even to accept the task of following him without the others. Oh. Now,there’s something I should probably write a full post to explain. Lewis often portrays a person learning masculinity from femininity and vice versa. As in, Ransom tells Merlin in That Hideous Strength that he learned war on Venus – he learned the primary masculine trait on the feminine planet. I’ll try to get to that soon. Anyway, to get back to Lucy, in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, Edmund points out that she sees Aslan more often than any of the other children. I think this is an indication of her spiritual maturity in general and of feminine receptivity. She is consistently open to Aslan’s presence and his instructions.
Another part of Lewis’s understanding of femininity is that it had to do with encouraging growth or fertility. Accordingly, another indication that Lucy is a picture of mature femininity is her gift from Father Christmas. He gives her the little diamond bottle of healing cordial. In Miracles, Lewis indicates that Jesus’s miracles of healing were a speeding up of the natural regenerative process which he is always enacting. Creating new life, encouraging fertility, growth, and regrowth is all interrelated. Lucy’s gift of healing, coupled with her gentle care for all living things, as when she tries to wake the trees in Prince Caspian, indicates her connection to femininity in the chronicles.
All of this, to me, indicates that Lucy is an example of spiritual maturity, and especially of feminine maturity. She’s the youngest, which illustrates the idea that spiritual maturity is not always connected to age. And she is the child with whom we most identify – the true protagonist. We have the inside scoop on the truth of Narnia’s existence through her. In a sense, that’s really what we should expect from the dedication – to Lucy Barfield, Lewis’s goddaughter. So the most consistently mature of the children – the one we identify with and are called to emulate – is the youngest GIRL! Hmmm. Maybe Pullman was wrong to call Lewis a misogynist . . . And now Lucy has taken so long I’m going to have to wait for Susan! But I have it half-written already, so if I can, I’ll get it out later this week! Thanks for reading!
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