When it comes to Narnia, I will undoubtedly say that Edmund and Puddlegum are my most favorite characters within the whole series. In retrospect, I have just realized that, all this time, I probably relate to Susan the most.
We may not find it in the books, but in the movies, Andrew Adamson did a good job of including some lines for Susan, or those describing her. On the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, Mrs. Pevensie was sending off her children to evacuate, and from it we see a little of what to expect of each of the characters. The words she said to Susan was, “Be a big girl.” And so Susan was. The most part they were in Narnia, she was highly skeptical and was first reluctantly going along with the journey; not because she wants to be seen as the smartest person in the room, but because she puts the well-being of her siblings first. Why wouldn’t anyone be cautious about a strange land, found inside a cupboard nonetheless? And then suddenly she and her siblings are expected to save it, risking their lives, just because four humans were mentioned in a ‘prophecy’? How convenient. All the times people saw Susan as lacking of faith, I saw Susan trying her best to keep her siblings safe. All the while she was seen as being selfish, I saw her trying to be a “big girl” for the family.
On Prince Caspian, for instance, Susan and Lucy shared this conversation.
Susan: “You always knew we’d be coming back here, didn’t you?”
Lucy: “I hoped so.”
Susan: “I finally just got used to the idea of being in England.”
Lucy: “But you’re happy to be here, aren’t you?”
Susan: “While it lasts.”
There was no promise of them going back for the second time. It is easy for Susan to get sidelined because in contrast to Lucy, she doesn’t seem to have much hope in Narnia. Most even thought this is where she questions if Narnia is even real. But have you ever had those moments when you cling onto one and it makes it all the more painful not to have it? While some would find some comfort in staying faithful, some would find it in accepting the present. Susan cherished those moments she had in Narnia, but to hope she will be back while trying to get used to living in London would be too much like a juggling act, and not everyone juggles well.
The last book of the series depicted Susan in a way that invites a storm of criticisms from many, what with her deemed “no longer a friend of Narnia” and “interested in nothing except nylons, lipsticks and invitations”. At a glance, it is easy to dismiss her as being superficial, but from the previous conversation, again, I should say this is her way to move forward with life. She knew that after their second visit to Narnia, she won’t be coming back, and now she’s trying to settle down with things in front of her eyes; she was being practical, like she always has been. The case of her losing faith–and thus, place–in Narnia is not closed. “Once a King or Queen of Narnia, always a King or Queen of Narnia”, wasn’t it? As Edmund experienced Aslan’s grace himself, I’d personally like to believe Susan would too, after the train wreck that took her family away from her.
These are the times when I wish C.S Lewis had finished Susan of Narnia before his death.
Susan was a loving sister. She was gentle, but all the more, she was a sensible girl, trying to embrace the world she lived in. To the all-knowing creator, why should her being very much human herself be considered an unforgivable offense?
If it isn’t obvious enough, I am in dire need of answers; on dealing with grief and disappointment, and on choosing to believe.