Prince Caspian's take on the coming of age theme is totally odd. At first glance, the novel seems to promote a Geoffrey the Giraffe philosophy—i.e. "I don't wanna grow up; I'm a Toys"R"Us kid." Characters like Peter, Trumpkin, and Susan—especially Susan—are criticized for their more grown-up traits, and at the end, Peter and Susan are flat out told they can't return to Narnia because they're too old.
On the other hand, Prince Caspian also requires its characters to be exceptionally adult in many situations. They have to fight in wars, butcher a bear for survival, and Peter even uses politics to his advantage in the fight against Miraz. And let's not forget the killing. In a "having your cake and eating it too" maneuver, the novel suggests we need to stay children and grow up at the same time.
Questions About Coming of Age
- So what do you think? Does the novel want its characters to remain with a sense of childish innocence or grow up to be adults? Something in-between? Or are we way off base and its something else entirely?
- Which character embodies childhood the most for you? Which character is the most grown up? By comparing these two, what can we say about this theme in the novel?
- Do you think Caspian comes of age by the end of the novel? Why or why not?
- Peter and Susan get by banned from Narnia by Aslan the admin. Why do you think this tidbit was added to the end of the book, and how does it affect your reading of this theme?
Chew on This
C.S. Lewis once said, "When I became a man I put away childish things, including the fear of childishness and the desire to be very grown up" (source). It's what we think he had in mind when conceiving of Prince Caspian's coming of age theme.
Some characters who are already full grown, such as Trumpkin, come of age during the course of the story.