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Kat Coffin @KatinOxford
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Many moons ago (I think like two weeks) I gave you guys a semi-drunk thread on why you are all wrong about Susan Pevensie from The Chronicles of Narnia.

Here is my more eloquent scholarly thread on why you all are still wrong about Susan Pevensie. *rustles up academic papers*
There are a few common complaints about Susan Pevensie, i.e., "The Problem of Susan", that have absorbed themselves (however annoying to me) into the popular consciousness. In a Time Magazine interview, JK Rowling described her debt to C.S. Lewis:
“I found myself thinking about the wardrobe route to Narnia when Harry is told he has to hurl himself at the barrier in King’s Cross Station—it dissolves and he’s on Platform Nine and Three-Quarters, and there’s the train to Hogwarts".
But, she points out that there were aspects of the Narnian chronicles that bothered her. She states that Susan Pevensie " …is lost to Narnia because she becomes interested in lipstick. She’s become irreligious basically because she found sex. I have a real problem with that."
Rowling is referring to the infamous bit in "The Last Battle", the final chronicle of Narnia, where Tirian asks where Queen Susan is. Peter says that Susan "is no longer a friend of Narnia."
Jill chimes in: She’s interested in nothing nowadays except nylons and lipstick and invitations. She always was a jolly sight to keen on being grown up”.

This is the bit that everyone gets upset about. And hell, I don't blame them. Susan's my favorite character!
Philip Pullman penned an angry Guardian article where he claimed that for Lewis, a girl's achieving sexual maturity was "“so dreadful and so redolent of sin that he had to send her to Hell”

So first off. Wrong. Susan was not sent to Hell.
There's a difference between being sent to Hell and being absent from the final adventure. If we're to be technical, Susan is alive and is in this world. Lewis wrote in a letter that she grew up to be a "silly and vain young woman" but that she "had plenty of time to mend."
All is not lost for Susan.

Now for the accusations of sexism. Lewis was definitely not perfect in terms of gender. I could give you another obnoxious long thread about the gender problems in The Cosmic Trilogy. But the Narnian chronicles? Not so much.
I strongly, strongly dispute the idea that the 'lipsticks and nylons" line in "The Last Battle" was sexist. Susan's flaws were her trying to "act grown up", not her being sexually active.

The first time we meet her, in LWW, she bossily tells Edmund that he ought to be in bed.
Edmund's reply is to stop "trying to talk like mother".

THAT is Susan's fatal flaw. And it expands into an actual arc, and foreshadows her exclusion from the final Chronicle. We see this in Prince Caspian.
In Prince Caspian, Lucy attempts to convince her siblings that she has seen Aslan and that Aslan wants them to follow Him. None of the Pevensies are able to see him so they doubt Lucy, choosing to make their own decisions--especially and most of all Susan.
The first time Lucy sees Aslan, the others outvote her and proceed a different route. The second time, Lucy announces she will be following Aslan whether they come or not. Susan insists Lucy was dreaming and progressively gets nastier as they follow her.
“Susan was the worst. ‘Suppose I started behaving like Lucy,’ she said. ‘I might threaten to stay here whether the rest of you went on or not. I jolly well think I shall.”
As they walk, all of the Pevensies begin to see Aslan. And then:

“Lucy,” said Susan in a very small voice.
“Yes?” said Lucy.
“I see him now. I’m sorry.”
“That’s all right.”
“But I’ve been far worse than you know. I really believed it was him—he, I mean—yesterday. When he warned us not to go down to the fir wood. And I really believed it was him tonight, when you woke us up. I mean, deep down inside. Or I could have, if I’d let myself."
"But I just wanted to get out of the woods and—and—oh, I don’t know. And whatever am I to say to him?”
These lines are KEY. This whole scene foreshadows EXACTLY what happens to Susan in "The Last Battle". It's about her "trying to act grown up", not Lewis being afraid of female sexuality.
Which btw, Lewis was not afraid of female sexuality and if you don't believe me, read his wife Joy Davidman's smutty letters about him. They are uncomfortable. You're welcome.
Lewis said, "When I was ten, I read fairy tales in secret and would have been ashamed if I had been found doing so. Now that I am fifty, I read them openly. When I became a man I put away childish things, including the fear of childishness and the desire to be very grown up."
This is a big thing with Lewis--the desire to be grown up, to be superior. This is something he himself had to get over, particularly in regards to his spiritual life. Before he became a Christian, he was a truly arrogant prick. (WELL HE WAS. READ HIS EARLY LETTERS.)
You all are thinking about the Neil Gaiman story. I know you are. And it's okay. I hate that short story but that story is Gaiman's way of dealing with something that made him uncomfortable. I don't fault him for it. He was bothered by Susan's exclusion.
So he wrote a dark, disturbing short story to deal reconcile being bothered by it and his love for C.S. Lewis. I get it. I don't have to like it, but I get it.

Sidebar, I once wrote a similar post about this on Tumblr and Neil Gaiman liked it so we're good.
And we can absolutely be bothered by Susan's exclusion. She's my favorite fucking character, y'all.

But her story isn't over. In Lewis' letters to children, he encouraged the children who were sad about her not being there to write their own stories about her.
He also encouraged them to write their own Narnian stories. That's right, folks. C.S. Lewis advocated fanfiction.
This is not to say that Lewis was a perfect feminist and that there weren't any problems with his female characters. This is my specialization, guys, all of my scholarship has to deal with Lewis and gender. We can talk about this.
But for the love of all that is good and holy, STOP with the Susan Pevensie crap. It is old and tired and I feel like I've been repeating myself about it for the past four years. Move on. There are other things to talk about.
Thank you all, it's been an honor. FOR NARNIA AND FOR ASLAN!
Shit, I also forgot to say this one thing.

When we hyperfocus on Susan, we also forget the other baller female characters in the Narnian chronicles. Lucy. Jill. Polly. Aravis.

All nuanced. All have an arc. All distinct from Susan.
Every Narnian chronicle also passes the Bechdel test and you find me another children's book series from the 50's that also does that.

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