The Chronicles of Narnia
C.S. Lewis
(December 15, 2005)

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Want to use popular Narnia movie to emphasize the need for character? Consider using some of the life lessons from its writer, C.S. Lewis. 

Hint for Teachers and Parents: Don't tell up front who "Jack" is. (His nickname.) Let it come as a surprise at the end. 

Early Failure at Building Things

As a child, Jack was frustrated by his inability to build things. As he put it, 

"I longed to make things, ships, houses, engines. Many sheets of cardboard and pairs of scissors I spoiled, only to turn from my hopeless failures in tears." 

Perhaps it was because of his thumb, which lacked a joint.  Whatever the cause, he suffered from an 

"extreme manual clumsiness." "...with a tool or a bat or a gun, a sleeve link or a corkscrew, I have always been unteachable."

Imagine how this clumsiness affected his abilities on the playground, at P.E., and in sports, which are so important at a young age. 

Retreat to His Imagination

"As a last resort...I was driven to write stories instead; little dreaming to what a world of happiness I was being admitted. You can do more with a castle in a story than with the best cardboard castle that ever stood on a nursery table."

From the ages of 6-8, he lived in an imaginative medieval world with armored knights and chivalrous talking animals.  He drew the animals, made up stories about them and began to write. He also developed a love for reading. 

Social Failure in School 

But creating stories didn't make him popular. At about age 15, Jack found himself at a school where athletes were everything. To be anything, you had to be an athlete. As Jack put it, 

"The whole school was a great temple for the worship of these mortal gods...." 

Predictably, Jack didn't find himself the object of worship at this school. He was horrid at sports. The social hierarchy at school made his life miserable. He hated his school. 

Family Problems

Besides social problems at school, he had problems at home. His mom died of cancer when he was a child. Besides grieving over the loss of his mother, Jack withdrew from his father, who became increasingly unjust and ill-tempered.  

Finding His Niche

Fortunately, Jack never gave up. I'm glad he didn't just drop out of school and life, assuming that the rest of rest of his life would be as miserable as the first. Instead, he pursued his love for reading, for learning, for imagining and for writing. As a result, he became one of the most celebrated professors and writers of the 20th century, known as C.S. Lewis. He wrote the wildly successful Chronicles of Narnia, which are just a few of his more than 50 published works.  

Lessons from Lewis

As we watch The Chronicles of Narnia at the theater, let's remember the author who wrote this wonderful story. If the childhood dreams of this troubled kid can come true, perhaps our dreams can as well. 

End Notes

1) C.S. Lewis, Surprised by Joy, pp. 6, 12-14, 18, 19, 83ff, 137, 186, 187.