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Help! What did Lewis think about kids in terms of innocence?

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Help! What did Lewis think about kids in terms of innocence?

Postby crystal » 16 Jul 2009, 15:43

I was wondering if anyone could enlighten me about something that I can’t seem to figure out.
I am writing a thesis on the presentation of the child in the Chronicles of Narnia, and the influence of the Fall to their maturation, but I have been stuck for days now because I can’t figure something out. :??:



As I understand it, Lewis thought of Adam and Eve as creatures with a childlike innocence, but with a great intelligence. In A Preface to Paradise Lost he says that when he read Paradise Lost, he wrongfully associated Adam and Eve’s innocence with childishness. And that:

Adam's 'inexperience' is misleading. The whole point about Adam and Eve is that, as they would never, but for sin, have been old, so they were never young, never immature or undeveloped. They were created full-grown and perfect (116)

Adam was, from the first, a man in knowledge as well as in stature.
[…] His mental powers surpassed that of the most brilliant philosopher as much as the speed of a bird surpasses that of a tortoise. (117)


But how can Adam and Eve be fully innocent if they already possess such an incredible knowledge as well as the Natural Law, which must have made them realize that tasting the fruit was wrong….

But most of all I am unclear about this:

Lewis sends children to Narnia to re-enact temptation and the Fall. Because, even thoug they come from a fallen world, they still have a childlike innocence, close to that of Adam and Eve. But then should this childlike innocence not make them more open to the Natural Law (Tao) so that their sin would be worse than that of an adult who is more likely to sin because of his fallen state and weaker connection with the Natural Law?


Can anyone tell me any clearer and if possible backed up with some quotes, what Lewis really thought of children in terms of innocence and fallen-ness? :stunned:
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Re: Help! What did Lewis think about kids in terms of innocence?

Postby archenland_knight » 17 Jul 2009, 01:06

I don't think Lewis thought of children as being "unfallen". Edmund, even as a child, was a traitor, and would come to discribe himself as such. "Childlike inocense" does not equate to "unfallenness".

Lucy believed Aslan with the faith of a child, but she still failed to follow him at that crucial moment when she first saw him in Prince Capsian.

Eustace's "sin" was great enough to transform him into a dragon, and he had to be "undressed" by Aslan and washed in Aslan's pool in order to be free from his dragonish nature.

Eustace and Jill neglected their "signs", and received nothing but trouble.

In Narnia, children are just as fallen and just as capable of sin. They just have more capacity for faith, and they more readily forget their sin and move on in their relationship with Aslan.
Romans 5:8 "But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us."
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Re: Help! What did Lewis think about kids in terms of innocence?

Postby Larry W. » 13 Aug 2009, 11:39

Didn't some people question why Lewis as a bachelor was writing books for children such as the Narnia chronicles? I guess some people thought it was a little strange since most authors of children's stories are married and have families. By the way, I am also single. Lewis waited many years to marry, and the only experience he probably had with children (other than his fictional character) was occasionally writing to them about his books. It seems that he and Joy would have made a good father and mother. His journey from atheism to Christianity may have given the patience with dealing with children when they do things wrong. That would help to keep them on the right path.

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Re: Help! What did Lewis think about kids in terms of innocence?

Postby CharlesBrite » 27 Jan 2010, 10:58

That's an interesting point Larry. You say the only experience he had with children was from writing to them about books but he was also a child himself once so maybe he based his characters around what he knew from his childhood.
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Re: Help! What did Lewis think about kids in terms of innocence?

Postby Larry W. » 28 Jan 2010, 01:48

Lewis wrote the "Boxen" animal stories during his own childhood, but some people say they don't have the depth of the Narnia stories. I guess that reflecting back on his childhood he was able to write better stories than as a child. His maturity as a writer helped him to write the stories as an adult. of course he didn't raise his own children so he couldn't actually write from a parent's point of view. Being a child does help you to understand your own childhood, but being a parent is something different altogether. :smile:

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Re: Help! What did Lewis think about kids in terms of innocence?

Postby carol » 28 Jan 2010, 08:35

Writitng the Boxen stories was Jack and Warnie's expression of what they saw in the adult world around them. It wasn't fantasy, it was just humans depicted as animals.

I think Jack wrote about this in reply to questions - he had been a child and could remember it well. He liked children, got on well with the ones he met. He talked to them as he talked to adults, yet I believe he saw them as not unfallen, nor entirely innocent, but less experienced in the world. Diggory & Polly's visit to Narnia was not the same sort of re-enactment as we see in Perelandra - where things ARE unfallen. The Green Lady there is truly innocent but wise - she often remarks that she is being spoken to by the deity who is explaining things to her, making her "older" than before.
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Re: Help! What did Lewis think about kids in terms of innocence?

Postby Larry W. » 28 Jan 2010, 12:53

Yes, he liked children, though some of his childhood experiences remind me of Dickens' (especially his elementary school days, some of which were unpleasant). Parts of The Silver Chair (e.g.,the school scenes) are like Oliver Twist and David Copperfield. Maybe because I'm an American I see it that way-- my schools weren't so bad in comparison. Lewis was a step parent to Joy's two sons, but that was only for couple of years from his marriage to his own death. That time was long after he wrote most of his books. So he looked at childhood from his past while writing the Narnia stories. Some people as adults don't understand children very well (they forget their own childhood, like Mrs. Macready in LWW), but Lewis wasn't one of those overly fussy people who couldn't put up with them. :smile:

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Re: Help! What did Lewis think about kids in terms of innocence?

Postby Theophilus » 28 Jan 2010, 17:54

Larry W. wrote:Lewis waited many years to marry, and the only experience he probably had with children (other than his fictional character) was occasionally writing to them about his books.

During World War II, when the children were evacuated from London, he did take care of some of them in his home. The situation described at the beginning of LWW was probably based on his experiences then.
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Re: Help! What did Lewis think about kids in terms of innocence?

Postby carol » 29 Jan 2010, 09:46

Larry W. wrote: Lewis was a step parent to Joy's two sons, but that was only for couple of years from his marriage to his own death. That time was long after he wrote most of his books.

Not quite right there Larry - the boys were 11/12 and 12/13 when he married Joy (1956, in the registry office - 1957 in religious ceremony). Joy died in mid 1960.
Jack lived until November 1963 - and spent various amounts of time with the boys.
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Re: Help! What did Lewis think about kids in terms of innocence?

Postby Larry W. » 29 Jan 2010, 18:08

Sorry, Carol. My memory seems to have eluded me a bit. Thanks for the correction.

However, I don't think that visiting with children makes one an expert on them. When I lived at home with my parents my niece and nephew often came to visit, and it was quite a close family relationship. I had to keep reminding myself that I was just their uncle and not their parent. Lewis was a step parent for only seven years, and in the last year his health declined, which probably limited the amount of time he could spend with the boys. Is a step parent as good as a natural parent even though the biological relationship is missing? He almost certainly was a better father than the boys' natural father. But he must have seemed like an amateur (maybe a bit awkward with children). :smile: Of course he didn't have to be a Dr. Benjamin Spock to write the Narnia books. The characterizations of the four children are really quite good for someone who had been bachelor for many years without knowing much of what it's like to be a parent. Most of what is in the Narnia stories existed long before Lewis' adopted parenthood. I am a single bachelor and don't claim to be an expert on family relationships, either. These are just observations from what I read about Lewis and from his own books. One of the best books on Lewis' life with Joy and the beginning of their family (which ended prematurely) is Through the Shadowlands by Brian Sibley. It is mostly about his hardship with Joy's illness and death, but it also describes how the children and Warnie were affected by that tragedy.

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