The Voyage of the Dawn Treader dramatizes the eternal conflict between fate and free will, which is of particular relevance in Christian theology. Many characters have destinies that have followed them from birth, while others show foreknowledge of the future or accept that certain events are fated or certain to occur. Yet the book also clearly values the rights of individuals to make independent choices and choose their own paths. Both major and minor characters are given opportunities to decide who they will be and what they will do. Even so, there seems to be a power working behind the scenes that already knows how they will choose.
The plot of The Voyage of the Dawn Treader is hindered by the narrative's constant reliance on fate and Aslan's ordering of events.
Eustace Scrubb is the only character in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader who strongly exercises free will and resists his fate, and he is punished and vilified for doing so.