The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe Summary and Analysis of Chapter 12: Peter's First Battle

While Edmund continues his journey with the White Witch and the Dwarf, Mr. and Mrs. Beaver and the children walk in the direction of the eastern sea, enjoying the warm weather. They delight in the coming of spring, which feels like "a delicious dream." Finally, the climb a hill and reach a green, open clearing. In the distance, the sea twinkles. In the middle of this clearing lies the Stone Table, a slab of grey stone inlaid with strange lines and letters and set upon four upright stones. Music is playing, and a pavilion tent has been pitched.

As the sun sets, they notice Aslan, who is surrounded by a crowd. Dryads and Naiads are playing music, and the children are amazed by how Aslan seems both "good and terrible" at the same time: with "the golden mane and the great, royal, solemn, overwhelming eyes...they found they couldn't look at him and went all trembly." Mr. Beaver urges Peter forward, but Peter hesitates. When it becomes clear that no one else is going to go forward, however, Peter musters his courage and approaches Aslan, who greets them and asks where the fourth has gone. Mr. Beaver explains that Edmund has betrayed them to the White Witch, and Peter adds that the betrayal was his fault because he had been angry with Edmund. Lucy asks if anything can be done, and Aslan responds, "All shall be done... But it may be harder than you think."

The assembled party enjoys a feast, after which Aslan takes Peter aside to show him the castle of Cair Paravel shining like a star at the mouth of the great river, where Narnia meets the sea. Aslan tells Peter that he will be the High King, since he is the first-born. They hear the rich sound of a horn, and look back to see the wolf that was sent by the Witch. It is threatening to kill Susan, who has climbed a tree before alerting them with the horn she received from Father Christmas. Peter, though not feeling particularly brave, recognizes that his feelings make no difference, and that he must save his sister. He attacks the wolf and sinks his sword into its heart, killing it. Aslan sees a second wolf, but this one is running away. He sends the centaurs and the eagles gathered on the hilltop to follow it, in order to find the Witch and to rescue Edmund.

Aslan tells Peter that he has forgotten to clean his sword, which is smeared with wolf blood and hair. Peter cleans the sword on the grass, and Aslan makes him a Knight.


The chapter begins with Peter, Susan, and Lucy delighting in the warm weather and the pleasant journey to the Stone Table. Though Edmund is physically separated from his siblings, their shared experience of enjoying the arrival of springtime speaks to their common bond and foreshadows their eventual reunion.

The narrative also propels the story towards the children's encounter with Aslan. Prior to this chapter, the children hear many stories about the great lion; only afterwards do they embark on the physical journey. The Beavers lead the children, while the Witch leads the Dwarf and Edmund. The momentum of the narrative suggests that their paths will converge at the Stone Table.

Peter, Susan, and Lucy meet Aslan and again experience the wonder of seeing a myth made real (transformed from mere "story" into something "seen"). No longer is Aslan a fable: the children have seen that he is indeed flesh-and-blood. They also see proof of his powers, as his arrival brings springtime back to Narnia. As an almost god-like figure in Narnia, Aslan contrasts with the Witch because he is good and just; even the weather that accompanies him is more pleasant.

The chapter, however, generally focuses on the development of Peter's character and his coming-of-age. As the eldest of the children, he has been the natural leader throughout the story. He is able to recognize when he is wrong (as seen when he apologizes to Lucy and tells Aslan that Edmund's betrayal is in part driven by his anger at Peter), understand the needs of others (as seen when he allows Lucy to be the leader in Narnia), admonish others for having committed negative deeds (such as those committed by his brother, Edmund), and exercise the logic that was taught to him by the Professor. Overall, Peter proves himself to be an adventurous spirit, and, being the oldest, the responsibility often falls on his capable shoulders. This is underscored in Chapter 12 when Peter takes on the responsibility of approaching Aslan. Because of Peter's bravery and status as the oldest and most responsible, Aslan takes him aside and shows him the castle of Cair Paravel. This castle, in contrast to the White Witch's castle, which is only seen in the moonlight, shines in the sun like a "great star resting on the seashore."

The climax of Peter's coming-of-age occurs when he battles the Witch's wolf. Spurred on by his natural bravery and desire to protect his sister, who is hiding in a tree on the verge of fainting, Peter makes use of his gifts from Father Christmas: the sword and shield. He strikes Fenris Ulf, the Grey Wolf, through the heart, and, in doing so, positions himself as a chivalrous, almost romantic figure. He saves his sister's life, and Aslan rewards his bravery by making him a Knight.

In the same episode, Susan uses the gift of the horn that she received from Father Christmas to call for help. As promised, the horn brings her the help that she needs; indeed, given Father Christmas's prediction, one might concur that Peter's victory was inevitable. This first battle also suggests that the younger pair of siblings will go through a similar experience: the reader already knows that Lucy's Christmas gift is a vial of potion that helps to heal the wounded. The narrative logically moves toward the moment when Lucy will use her potion to save Edmund.