The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe Summary and Analysis of Chapter 10: The Spell Begins to Break

While Edmund makes his way to the home of the White Witch, Mrs. Beaver fusses about, preparing bundles of food for the children to take with them on their journey to the Stone Table. The children and Mr. Beaver worry about the time, but soon enough they take their supplies and begin walking through the snow. Though they are initially struck by the beauty of the scenery, the group is soon exhausted.

After some time, the group stops in a nice, dry cave. Mr. Beaver calls it "an old hiding-place for beavers in bad times" and "a great secret." Lucy thinks to herself that it is not nearly as nice a cave as Mr. Tumnus's. Mrs. Beaver passes around a flask, and, warmed, they all fall fast asleep.

After what feels like minutes, but has actually been hours, Lucy suddenly awakens, feeling stiff and tired, and hears the sound of jingling bells. Mr. Beaver runs outside to see who it is, and is gone for five minutes. They all begin to worry, but Mr. Beaver comes back and calls for everybody to come out and see. They rush outside to find a sledge pulled by brown reindeer, guided by a man with a bright-red robe and a great white beard. The children feel "very glad, but also solemn." Father Christmas is even famous in their own world. As Mr. Beaver has told the children and Mr. Tumnus has told Lucy, the White Witch has cast a spell so that it is always winter in Narnia, but never Christmas. The arrival of Father Christmas therefore signals that the White Witch's magic is weakening.

Father Christmas offers gifts to each member of the assembled party. He tells Mrs. Beaver that she will find a new sewing machine upon her return home, and tells Mr. Beaver that his dam will be finished, with all of the leaks stopped up and a new gate installed. He then turns to the children and offers them presents, stating that "they are tools not toys." To Peter, he gives a sword and shield. He presents Susan with a bow and a quiver of arrows, along with an ivory horn that he says she should blow if she is ever in need of help. To Lucy, he gives a small bottle filled with the juice of the fire-flowers that grow on the mountains of the sun. He tells her that if anyone is ever hurt, a few drops of the juice will restore them to health. He also gives her a dagger, but tells her that women shouldn't fight. He then presents the party with a large tea-tray, and continues on his way. As Mrs. Beaver prepares the tea and calls them all together for breakfast, Mr. Beaver tells them that it will soon be time to move on.


By this point in the story, Aslan has been firmly planted in the reader's mind; the children, led by the Beavers, are on a journey to meet him and join him in the fight to save Narnia. At the same time, the narrative draws its suspense from the race against time to reach the Stone Table before the Witch finds them. The jingling bells are a clever detail used by the author to create further suspense: in Chapter 9, if we recall, the White Witch specifically instructed the Dwarf to use a harness without bells, so that they would be able to glide through the forest surreptitiously, but the reader nevertheless wonders whether the bells signal the arrival of someone (or something) evil.

The jingling bells, however, turn out to signal the arrival of Father Christmas. When the children emerge from the cave to meet him, the contrast between this figure and the White Witch is striking. Father Christmas drives a similar sledge, though his reindeer are brown, not white. Like the White Witch, Father Christmas bears magical gifts, though his gifts are profoundly different. Contrasting with the White Witch's unhealthy gifts of a warm, sweet drink and pounds of Turkish Delight, Father Christmas offers presents that speak to each recipient's essence: a particular passion or hobby, or something that will help them. In other words, his gifts are useful. Mrs. Beaver, who the reader has already learned loves to sew, receives a new sewing machine. Mr. Beaver, who the reader knows is deeply proud of his work on the dam, is told that the dam will be finished when he returns home. When Father Christmas turns to the children, he states that his gifts are "tools" and "not toys." In other words, the gifts signal that the children are about to come of age: they are not to receive child's toys, but rather gifts that will enable them to comport themselves as adults. Peter receives a sword and shield that will assist him in becoming a brave, courageous man; Susan receives a horn, which hints at her musical abilities and inherent grace; and Lucy receives a vial filled with a potion to heal the wounded that speaks to her caring nature and special gift for helping people discover their true selves (hinted at earlier by her awareness that Mr. Tumnus is a "good faun" and her ability to lead her brothers and sister into a world where they will assume a new life and grow into the people they are supposed to become). Each of the gifts foreshadows future events, recalling how Lucy's gift of her handkerchief reappeared to serve a particular purpose.

It is also important to note that Father Christmas provides a bow and a quiver of arrows for Susan and a small dagger for Lucy while advising them to use them only for defensive purposes. This is another point which has drawn heavy criticism from feminists; the apparent misogyny is heightened when the aggressive and ambitious White Witch takes up a stone knife to fight in the final battle. The character of the White Witch is linked to the dark side of femininity, as represented by Lilith, while Susan and Lucy are "Daughters of Eve." Their goodness, as well as the fact that Lewis clearly holds Eve in higher esteem than Lilith, suggests that Lewis believes passivity, obedience, and the adoration of one's male companions to be "ideal" female qualities.

Father Christmas also participates in the theme of nourishment and shared meals by offering the children and the Beavers a tea tray, which symbolizes celebration and friendship. Additionally, Father Christmas's arrival draws attention to the title of the chapter: "The Spell Begins to Break." The White Witch has declared that Christmas will never be celebrated in Narnia, but Father Christmas's appearance and the imminent arrival of Aslan both signify that the Witch's power is dimming.

When Lewis allowed some of his friends to read the first draft of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, a few voiced disdain for the appearance of Father Christmas, feeling that the character jarred with the tone of the rest of the story, as his image stems from pagan origins that contrast with the more traditional mythical landscape of Narnia. In the end, however, Lewis kept the character, and, over time, Father Christmas's appearance in Narnia has been a particular source of delight to readers. Father Christmas, it seems, is so famous that rumors of his existence have permeated the border between Narnia and the "real" world. In other words, Lewis seems to be suggesting that all myths and fantasies that exist in one world harbor kernels of truth that are quite real and alive in other worlds. When the myth becomes "true" by way of being "seen", the reader's reaction is one of awe and inspiration.