Is it irresponsible of Caspian, as King of Narnia, to leave his kingdom and go off on a long sea voyage?
I would say yes if he did not make plans for his people for that time. He made sure that things were covered during his absence, including leaving behind Susan’s horn so they could call for aid if it was necessary. I think his journey was important, particularly as he had promised to do it. So if he went back on his word, I think he would have been more irresponsible.
Why does The Voyage of the Dawn Treader have so many different protagonists? How would this novel be different if every adventure focused on one main character – say, Caspian or Eustace? What does the book gain from having different characters take center stage during different adventures?
I think it is all just authorial choice about the different protagonists and perspectives in this book. Frankly, this is always the case! I think this book does gain a lot with the different perspectives. For instance, we get the picture into what happens with Eustace when he becomes a dragon. I think for this book, the different perspectives ensure we are getting the entire story. How are we to know what Eustace is thinking during his time as a dragon? How are we to know what Lucy’s experience is? This is not a big issue for some books because the overall perspective encompasses a lot, but ones written like The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, where they focus in on one character, a lot is left out unless you switch the perspectives. Thus, I think here C.S. Lewis needed the switches to make sure he included the full story.
What does Aslan mean when he says he has “another name” in Edmund, Lucy, and Eustace’s world?
I think he means exactly what he says: he exists in the other world, but they would know him by another name. Given what I know about C.S. Lewis, I would theorize that Aslan is placing himself as God or maybe Jesus. With that said, I do not like assuming what an author means by a particular thing. Unless you ask them specifically, I do not think you can ever really know. I have told people before that because of my feelings surrounding “what does this mean” in a book I would put in a blue curtain in every book I write (theoretically, it does not need to be a blue curtain). However, what does that curtain mean? Is it my inherent sadness? Is it foreshadowing? Do I just like blue? Am I trying to screw with you? You never know!
Why can’t Peter and Susan come with Edmund and Lucy on this adventure to Narnia? At the end of the previous book, Aslan tells them they are too old to go to Narnia again, but what does that mean?
I think the first part of this question is answered in the second part. Simply put, Peter and Susan are growing up and because of their age, they cannot return anymore. I think the “too old” hinges on the belief that I mentioned in previous posts regarding these books. It is not to say that adults cannot or do not believe, but I definitely feel as if it changes. I think Narnia resembles many iterations of Neverland from Peter Pan. It is somewhere you can only visit, not live. And once you grow up…you have to leave it in your memories. With that said, I think that Peter and Susan still have influence over Narnia and we will see that before the series comes to an end. They just cannot physically go back.
At one point near the end of the book, Caspian wonders why his friends Edmund and Lucy can travel to his world, but he can’t travel to theirs. What do you think is the reason?
This is actually a fascinating question and I think there are many ways of answering it. I am going to try to stick to one of these, since it will take a long time to explain all of them.
I think we all realize that Aslan is the “ultimate” king of Narnia. However, he also runs on belief, which is I think a major reason why we need figures like the Pevensie children to rule in his stead and protect the lands. So if Aslan’s power is diminished if people do not believe in him as much…how will he protect Narnia? I think that has a lot to do with why he needs Caspian to stay and not leave. Caspian needs to stay so he can act as king and protect Narnia. Who else is going to do it? You may argue that Lucy or Edmund should, but Aslan notes that this is their last journey in Narnia. Even though people may bring up the point that Caspian is growing up, he has also lived in Narnia his entire life. I think his background is what makes him “immune,” so to speak, over the growing up and not being allowed to return to Narnia.
I feel like I appreciate this book a lot more when I connect it with the previous two and take in the Pevensie children’s entire journey within Narnia. I think I like this one the most out of the three, but that is also taking in the influence of the previous two (also, aside from Eustace…boy, is he annoying). I feel like these books are amazing for kids. However, reading them as an adult I cannot help but wish for larger books with more history and detail, among other things. It does not make them bad books by any means, they are good the way they are, but they do have more potential. I could see them focused like Lord of the Rings in a way (doubt they would overtake those books in my heart though). That thought is actually funny to me, given the C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien were great friends!
Title: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader
Author: C.S. Lewis
Publisher: Geoffrey Bles