4

In The Last Battle, the Dwarfs reject Aslan so much that they remain stuck in the stable even when it has been transformed into paradise around them.

C.S. Lewis wrote Aslan to represent Jesus, so does that mean the Dwarfs represent the Jews? Are there any scholars who say this or other evidence that this might be the case?

2
  • 10
    The dwarfs don’t simply reject Aslan, they reject him because they had believed in the false Aslan, and they don’t want to be fooled again. This to me is a much better allegory for secular society, or atheists who have deconstructed a Christian faith.
    – Ben Murphy
    Jun 15, 2023 at 10:21
  • 1
    An interesting question. How far do we take the allegory?
    – Valorum
    Jun 15, 2023 at 13:20

1 Answer 1

13

That does not seem to be the case. The Dwarfs seem generically to represent those who had, beguiled by the world, fallen into disbelief and villainy, but who still had a chance to redeem themselves in the afterlife. What happens to them after they pass into Aslan's Country is a representation of how Lewis believed purgatory would work.

As is typical of Lewis, the enemies he was concerned about were mostly flavors of atheists. The creators of the false Aslan and later the syncretic cult of Tashlan—Shift, Ginger, and Rishda—are atheists of one sort, willing to encourage worship of a deity in which they do not believe in order to enrich themselves.

The Dwarfs represent a different type of atheism, but they are also quite villainous. They show no loyalty to Narnia after they come to the conclusion that Tashlan is fake and refuse to back up King Tirian. Instead, they disavow belief in anything except their own in-group, and turn their weapons against both sides.

"Listen!" said Jewel: and then "Look!" said Farsight. A moment later there was no doubt what is was. With a thunder of hoofs, with tossing heads, widened nostrils, and waving manes, over a score of Talking Horses of Narnia came charging up the hill. The gnawers and nibblers had done their work.

Poggin the Dwarf and the children opened their mouths to cheer but that cheer never came. Suddenly the air was full of the sound of twanging bow-strings and hissing arrows. It was the Dwarfs who were shooting and—for a moment Jill could hardly believe her eyes—they were shooting the Horses. Dwarfs are deadly archers. Horse after horse rolled over. Not one of those noble Beasts ever reached the King.

However, in spite of these murders, C. L. Lewis does not consign the Dwarfs to damnation. Shift and Rishda face Tash when they enter the stable, who whisks them away (apparently to hell). But the Dwarfs, who were dragged into the stable with the apparent hope that Tash would destroy them, are allowed to pass into Aslan's Coutry, even if they cannot recognize it as heaven. Although purgatory is not usually an orthodox Protestant concept, as described here, Lewis believed in purgatory, of a sort:

In several of his books, Lewis expressed his belief in purgatory, which grew out of his understanding of the doctrine of salvation.

“Our souls demand purgatory, don’t they?” Lewis asked in Letters to Malcolm: Chiefly on Prayer.

Lewis saw salvation primarily in terms of transformation and sanctification, Walls said. So, in Lewis’ view, purgatory exists not to satisfy God’s sense of justice in punishing the unrepentant, but rather to purify believers in preparation for their everlasting home in God’s presence, he explained.

Sin trains fallen humankind a certain way, and sanctification demands dramatic transformation achieved over a lifetime—and beyond, if necessary, he noted.

This purgatory is the state in which the Dwarfs find themselves at the end of the book, representing those whose sinful minds has persisted even after their departure from the living world and even after the Last Judgement. Lewis's version of purgatory is not a physical place, like the purgatory described by Dante, who was extrapolating from medieval Catholic theology and. It is a spiritual state, a condition of unhappiness that Lewis believed was of residents' own making. In this purgatory, the Dwarfs will continue to suffer—even though they have moved physically into paradise—as long as the are unwilling to accept Aslan's love. They will have food and water, but they will interpret it only as filth, until they eventually repent allow themselves to accept the paradise they are in.

0

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.