Images of books and writing are frequent in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader and may serve to provide insight into a character who is writing or to highlight a character's literary shortcomings. Familiarity with certain kinds of literature is almost considered a prerequisite for being a good person in this book. Reading the "right" books helps humanize the characters and educate them in the nature of beauty and truth. In contrast, relying too much on one's own capacity to write, or writing mechanically or selfishly, can indicate the perils of egotism or bureaucracy. Reading and writing also blur into the supernatural world in this book, becoming magical on more than one occasion.
Questions About Literature and Writing
Why does the narrator of The Voyage of the Dawn Treader constantly emphasize that Eustace has read the "wrong books"? Which books are the wrong ones and which are the right ones? Why?
Why does Eustace begin writing a journal in Chapter 2? What kind of power does the journal give him that he is otherwise lacking?
What is the significance of Eustace's inability to write out his story while he is a dragon? (Remember, he keeps trying to use his claws to write in the sand, but the waves wash away his words.)
How does Coriarkin's magic book blur the boundaries between text and reality? What other forms of media does the magic book remind you of? (Suggestion: You might want to consider forms of media that may not have been known to C.S. Lewis in the 1950s when he was writing.)
Describe Lucy's absorption into the spell "for the refreshment of the spirit." How is her experience with this story similar to our experience of absorption in reading The Voyage of the Dawn Treader? How is it different?
Chew on This
Literature and writing in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader are powerful processes that can result in a subtle mastery over a situation.
Although the characters in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader experience the power of the written word, they value real-life experience over literary knowledge.