Before we get started, in the spirit of honesty—I haven’t read all the Narnia books. I did, however, listen to all the audios. The Magician’s Nephew was one I listened to over and over. While I’m not quite sure what drew me to it back then, writing this post made me turn back to my family’s battered copy of the novel.
And it was even better than I remembered.
One of the things that drew me in the most was the character of Digory Kirke.
At first, it was just his snark. (Read those first couple chapters and try to tell me he doesn’t have snark.) Then it was that he was the only one in his family who would stand up to his wicked uncle. Then it was his willingness to jump into an unknown world to save Polly.
Alright. Fine. So he didn’t always make good decisions. There was that deal in Charn after all—and ringing the bell brought more destruction than he could have imagined.
But “what you see and hear depends a good deal on where you are standing: it also depends on what sort of person you are.” (The Narrator) So, we’re going to look at what sort of person Digory is to see what it shows us about where we’re standing.
1. Digory is a rebel.
“But there’s one thing I jolly well mean to say first. I didn’t believe in Magic till today. I see now it’s real. Well if it is, I suppose all the old fairy tales are more or less true.”Digory Kirke
The word rebel has a lot of negative connotations. And while we see those in Digory from time to time, I think he also exhibits a lot of the positive ones. He stands up to his uncle when he sees something’s not right. He’s willing to take impossible risks to save those he cares about and to discover the worlds that lie beyond. He refuses to stop believing in Magic, no matter what his uncle or anyone else says. Even before Digory slipped the yellow ring on his finger, he lived for another world. These are the types of rebels our world needs more of.
2. Digory has courage.
“There’s not much point in finding a magic ring that lets you into other worlds if you’re afraid to look at them when you’ve got there.”Digory Kirke
When Digory and company enter the newly formed Narnia, against all seemingly natural instincts, Digory decides he’s going to speak to the Lion (aka Aslan) and ask him to heal his dying mother. Of course, Uncle Andrew, who can’t hear what everyone else is hearing, doesn’t hesitate to make his opinion known anyway. He details all the horrible things that will happen if Digory approaches the lion. When Digory turns on his heel anyway, Andrew screams after him about how selfish and ill-tempered he is.
But Digory goes anyway.
And he asks anyway.
And when Aslan confronts him with the reality of what Digory did at Charn, he owns up to it and steps up to do whatever it takes to make it right.
3. Digory is full of hope.
“Well, you know how it feels if you begin hoping for something you want desperately badly; you almost fight against the hope because it’s too good to be true; you’ve been disappointed so often before. It might—really, really be true. So many odd things had happened already.”The Narrator
Countless times, Digory is pushed to his breaking point where he despairs of his mother ever healing. Let’s face it, he’d had a rough life. A father away in India. A dying mother. Stuck with Uncle Andrew day after day.
But the point never was how he felt, however valid those feelings were. It was that he didn’t give up, no matter how ordinary and unmagical his world seemed. He kept believing. Kept trying. Kept exploring.
4. Digory is impractical.
“He didn’t know how it was to be done, but he felt quite sure now that he would be able to do it.”The Narrator
What we hear over and over about both Andrew and Jadis is that they are dreadfully practical. Gotta tell you, I wasn’t sure what to make of that. I tend to think of myself as a very practical person.
But the problem with Jadis’ and Andrew’s practicality is they were too practical. They couldn’t dream of another world, not really. Of voices they couldn’t hear. Of talking animals and a land created from nothing by a song.
But Digory didn’t. He opened himself up to the impossible. The insane. The impractical.
And it became one of the most wonderful things in his life.
“Son of Adam,” said Aslan. “Are you ready to undo the wrong that you have done to my sweet country of Narnia on the very day of its birth?”
“Well, I don’t see what I can do,” said Digory. “You see, the Queen ran away and—”
“I asked, are you ready?” said the Lion.
“Yes,” said Digory.
This is my favorite scene with Digory—or any other character—in the entire book. Digory had made more horrible of a mistake than he could fathom when he rang the bell and woke Jadis. He couldn’t imagine a way to repair what he’d broken.
But Aslan didn’t ask about any of that.
He only asked if he was ready.
Reckless. Angry. Hurting.
Adventurous. Courageous. Hopeful.
And Digory said yes.
It occurred to me when I closed the worn cover on The Magician’s Nephew that Digory was much like the Narnian tree he brought back to his garden. Inside himself, in the very blood of him, he never forgot Narnia, where he belonged. Sometimes he would move mysteriously when there was no wind blowing. It was proved later that there was still magic in him.
How do we know if there’s magic in us?
The real question is . . .
Are you ready?
Rachel Judith Leitch discovered the book of writing when she was seven. She’s been turning pages ever since! She lives her own American adventure in northern Indiana, with her parents, three sisters, two brothers, and a dog who thinks he’s the hero of her story. When she’s not hidden away penning young adult and middle grade fiction, she’s trying to fit all her reads on her shelf in a somewhat organized manner, rambling through American history, daydreaming at the piano, or teaching students to be just as bookish as she is. In all her adventures, she learns how to shine brighter for the Father of Lights.
For more lessons drawn from books and movies and other stories, follow my adventure journal at https://racheljleitch.weebly.com!