Where the Waves Grow Sweet
While reading The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, I immediately identified some of the similarities between Lewis and Wendt’s literary technique. Just as Wendt introduces Black Rainbow as a futuristic, dystopia—an “on the surface” account of an otherwise complex plotline--Lewis appeals to his audience in similar fashion. The surface of Lewis’ multi-layered plot displays a compelling adventure novel, influenced heavily by mystical and supernatural elements. However, at the core of this fantastical world—at the core of Narnia-- exists a world that is not so farfetched: a world that is not much different from our own world as we may think.
The initial distance that Lewis creates between Narnia and our world allows him to introduce an allegorical setting. Lewis works to construct a mirror image of our own world that is reflected in Narnia; he implements a structure that works to simulate reality that is hidden just beneath the surface. Lewis utilizes separation as a technique to encourage his audience to detach from the world they know—the familiar—and to delve into the unknown: Narnia. By immersing themselves into the world of Narnia, Lewis’ audience is unknowingly becoming closer to their own world; the use of separation is actually working to bring both worlds closer together—simultaneously closing the gap between imagination and reality.
Lewis enables his audience’s ability to call upon imagination in order for them to gain a new perspective and to adopt a new mindset or outlook on the world. However, Lewis suggests that this change can only occur if the individual allows it. Similar to Lucy, Edmund, and Eustace—Lewis’ audience must first imagine themselves within the painting before it becomes a reality—their reality. In that same regard, Lewis urges his audience to first travel through their imaginative spheres, and it is only after that journey has begun, that they accept Lewis’ invitation: to embark on the physical journey alongside his characters. Traveling on paralleled levels provides Lewis’ audience the ability to both internally and externally transform; here we observe two different forms of travel work in tandem to shed light on one another, while also shedding light onto the world that which we live.
It is also important to understand that just as Lewis is teaching his characters from within the text--Lucy, Edmund and Eustace—he is also teaching us. He explains that the knowledge and the experience that his characters have gained from Narnia can be used and can also apply to their own world. In the same way, Lewis is working to convey this same message to his audience. Although Lewis is aware that his audience members will most likely never embark on an identical journey, he does however hope that the lessons and virtues learned (such as courage and perhaps kindness) will transfer across spheres: working to enhance life in their own personal world.
In addition I found it truly amazing that Lewis assigns his most heroic characters to children. Not only does Lewis do this to appeal to his intended target audience, but also as a way to inspire. Lewis is selecting children characters not by default, but rather because he genuinely believes they are the most apt to fulfill his character roles. Lewis’ emphasis on imagination as a writer naturally calls for characters will the strongest ability to imagine: children.
After completing The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, I immediately thought of my little pre-Kindergarten lovebugs at Tunbridge. Although none of my four year- olds know how to read, I think that Lewis’ story is an essential text for them to eventually encounter. Lewis constructs a story—an entire series—that works to empower children, and to illuminate their innate talent and ability. More specifically, many of the children in my classroom are a product of a broken home. Whether it is illiterate parents, poor living conditions, or minimal/ limited resources, it becomes clear that it is easy for these children to feel trapped. This type of environment may promote stagnancy, hindering a child’s ability to dream big and to imagine all of the possibilities that exist outside of their current environment. Through reading Lewis’ text, children feel inspired by his characters and in turn acquire agency—a sense of agency that will allow them to be bigger than any obstacle or force that is holding them back. While reading, children are able to embark on their own journey—imagining all of the possibility and potential that exists within their own life and that exists within them. As Lewis predicts, once the child is able to imagine it, it becomes their reality—a place “where the waves grow sweet,” yay!