The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe
by C.S. Lewis
Lucy is the youngest of the four children in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, but in many ways she is the most important. It's no accident that Lucy is the first one to find her way into the world of Narnia – the gateway through the wardrobe only works sometimes, so it seems meaningful that the first time it operates is to bring Lucy through. Lucy frequently demonstrates her instinctive good judgment. She can tell immediately that Mr. Tumnus is a kind friend, and even when he confesses that he was intending to kidnap her, she feels certain that he will not harm her in any way. In the same way, she knows that Mr. Tumnus is on the side of Good and that the White Witch is on the side of Evil, and she trusts friendly creatures, like Mr. Beaver, on sight.
Lucy is also truthful to the point of stubbornness; when Peter, Edmund, and Susan disbelieve her tale about her adventure in Narnia, she sticks to her story. Lucy defies their disbelief, asserting "I don't care what you think, and I don't care what you say. You can tell the Professor or you can write to Mother or you can do anything you like. I know I've met a Faun in there" (5.16). Lucy's strength of character and her refusal to lie just to please other people are impressive, especially for a little girl in 1940s England!
A Favorite of Aslan
Along with her sister Susan, Lucy develops a particularly close relationship with the lion Aslan, the majestic and magical King of Beasts who rules Narnia in his own way. Upon first meeting Aslan, Lucy observes to herself that he has "Terrible paws […] if he didn't know how to velvet them" (12.22), noticing both Aslan's power and his gentleness. Lucy is very perceptive regarding Aslan's moods, and when the army retreats from the Stone Table, she notices that Aslan seems extremely depressed. With Susan, she follows Aslan back to the Stone Table, and when he notices her, she walks with him and shares his sorrow. At the Stone Table, she and Susan witness Aslan's sacrifice and mourn him, and as dawn breaks they discover that he has been resurrected. Aslan allows Lucy and Susan to get very close to him; during their sad walk to the Stone Table, they bury their hands in his mane. After he is resurrected, they romp and wrestle together joyfully; when he frees the Witch's captives, they ride on his back.
(As you may have noticed, Aslan is a Christ figure in this story, and the relationship between him and the girls reminds us of the relationship between Jesus and his female followers, especially "Mary Magdalene and the other Mary," who witness the Crucifixion and are the first to arrive at the empty tomb after Jesus is resurrected.)
Lucy in Battle
However, although Lucy and Susan have a relatively intimate relationship with Aslan, they are also given a limited role in the battle and other momentous events. It is Father Christmas who tells Susan and Lucy that, although he has given them weapons, they are not supposed to fight in the battle. Lucy objects, saying "I think – I don't know – but I think I could be brave enough" (10.47). Given her stalwart behavior throughout the book, we totally agree! But Father Christmas tells her that "battles are ugly when women fight" (10.48). His statement is ambiguous, and we could interpret it to mean that he thinks women fight dirty, or, more likely, that there is potential for more unpleasant violence when men, who tend to be physically stronger, are pitted against women, who tend to be physically weaker. (There is, perhaps, even a slight hint of the possibility of sexual violence as something to be avoided here.) Still, beyond the specific question of whether women should fight on the front lines, there is a more general point: most of the "good" characters in this book, including Aslan and Father Christmas, believe that there are clear gender roles men and women should stick to.
We're not saying that we agree or disagree with this – in fact, we think you should make up your own mind about it – but we are pointing out that's how this particular book works. The boys, Peter and Edmund, take their swords and fight in the battle; the girls, Susan and Lucy, rescue people who have been turned to stone and assist Aslan with behind-the-scenes tactical support. Lucy has a special role as healer, using her magic cordial to help those who have been wounded, and even saving her brother Edmund's life. Still, it's worth noting that Lucy feels ready to break these gender boundaries – to fight in the battle – if she has to do so.
When Lucy saves Edmund's life, we finally see that she does have some flaws. After she pours a few drops of her magic cordial into his mouth, she waits to see if he will recover – waits, while other people and creatures are lying wounded and dying around her on the battlefield. Aslan has to remind her, very strongly, that nobody else should have to die for Edmund's sake. Lucy quickly comes around to his way of thinking, but we've already learned that her love for her family can sometimes distract her from broader humanitarian duties. (OK, we admit that, as flaws go, it's really a pretty small one.)
Queen Lucy the Valiant
In the end of the story, of course, the four children become Kings and Queens, and Lucy is known as Queen Lucy the Valiant. It's interesting to us that the virtue Lucy is best known for in Narnia isn't a particularly "girly" virtue. Calling someone "valiant" could be praise for a great warrior, and Lucy transcends her appointed gender role at least a little bit.
Lucy is also the only one of the four children who (sort of) doesn't grow up, even when she reigns for years as a Queen in Narnia. As the narrator describes each of the children developing into a King or Queen, we learn how Peter, Susan, and Edmund have changed as they became adults. "But," the narrator tells us, "as for Lucy, she was always gay and golden haired, and all Princes in those parts desired her to be their Queen" (17.21). This seems to be a contradiction. Lucy is mature (princes want to marry her) but also not mature – she is "always gay and golden haired" just like she was when she was a little girl, and she doesn't change as much as the other three. We suspect this is because Lucy is already the most perfect of the characters. If you're already truthful and perceptive and valiant, then maybe there's not much growing up left to do!Timeline