The struggle between good and evil has been raging since the dawn of time, but it has remained outside the realm of understanding in the innocent minds of children. As a result parents teach their children about the perils of the evil in the world by telling them important life lessons to follow. The most effective way that children remember the lessons is when they are told through stories that are often read to them before they go to sleep. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis and A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle are two children’s novels that both show several of the same life lessons.
Children are raised in a nurturing and safe environment in which everyone in their life has their best interest in mind which causes them to believe everyone they encounter outside of their environment has their best interest in mind as well. This is paralleled in children’s books such as The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, by C.S. Lewis in which the White Queen offers to make Edmund Pevensie her prince in exchange for him bringing his siblings to meet her. Edmund likes the offer while failing to realize that the White Queen intends to kill him and his siblings when he brings them to meet her. Another book in which this lesson is paralleled is A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle in which IT, through a man who has submitted to IT, promises to bare all of the pain, responsibilities and burden of thoughts and decisions of anyone who submits to IT. IT, however, does not tell the children that by submitting they completely relinquish their free will and would be unable to change their decision. Lewis and L’Engle portray the lesson in different ways while both remain effective, Lewis shows children what evils could happen should they fail to consider the intentions of a stranger while L’Engle shows that keeping the motives of others in mind will result in making a more informed decision.
Children are very quick to judge something based solely on its outer appearance and are taught that they should not judge a book by its cover. This lesson is often found in books with one example coming in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe when Lucy met a friendly faun named Mr. Tumnus whom she felt comfortable enough to accompany him to his home. Having grown fond of her during their time together, Mr. Tumnus revealed he was a kidnapper and had lured Lucy to his house so he could kidnap her. Another example comes in A Wrinkle in Time when an injured Meg took an instant distrust of the inhabitants of Ixchel when she first saw them and immediately feared the worst. We soon learn that her initial feelings are completely unfounded when the aliens assure Meg and the others that they not only mean them no harm, they also intend to give Meg the medical assistance that she needs. Lewis and L’Engle portray the lesson in different ways, Lewis with his use of a likeable character who does something evil and L’Engle with her use of characters who are not likeable who are actually benevolent, but both will succeed in teaching any child reading either story that they should not judge a book by its cover.
Children often think that they know enough about situations that they will ignore any warning that they are given, but we still tell our children to listen to their elders so they may learn from the wisdom of those who came before them. This is also a theme that appears in children’s books including The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe in which Edmund ignores what the Beavers said about the White Queen and travels to her house. Edmund does not get the response he had anticipated and is instead taken prisoner by the White Queen and later is almost killed by the queen but is ultimately saved. The theme is also present in A Wrinkle in Time when Charles Wallace thought he was strong enough to withstand being completely overtaken and submitted himself to IT despite having been warned by Mrs. Whatsit, Mrs. Who and Mrs. Which that he didn’t know everything. By submitting to IT Charles unknowingly caused the original plan that Mrs. Whatsit, Mrs. Who and Mrs. Which had made to fall apart and would require him to be rescued at the end of the book. In this case both Lewis and L’Engle portrayed the lesson in the same way, in both stories a child is specifically told something by elders and ultimately ignore them resulting in both children being captured and requiring rescue.
The world is seen through rose-colored glasses in the innocent minds of children. As a result they cannot fathom the evil that exists in the world and the dangers that come with it. The children in both The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and A Wrinkle in Time had to be literally removed from the world so they could be shown that true evil does exist and has to be overcome. By reading stories to our children we teach them valuable life lessons that they can use to differentiate the good in the world from the evil.