Reviews for The Problem of Susan
Dino-Rogue chapter 1 . 5/29/2016
Wow, I've never been so taken/convinced/persuaded/blown away by an essay like this before, ever! I completely agree with everything you've written here, as well as those that you've written in your piece on Peter. Well, except perhaps that bit about Susan feeling relieved. Okay, I'd agree that she might feel an ounce of it, but I believe that the grief would most definitely overcome it and take over pretty easily as well. And what's more, I believe that losing her loved once because of Narnia, the source of both pain and joy for her that she'd long since denied, could very well be the very thing that brings her back soon, like what other pics portray. But again, that's just me, and your theory is perfectly probable, too. Especially that one about her growing too old for Narnia, then one day growing old enough to enter it once more. And I'm sure this pertains to her heart, as well... most of all, actually! :)

You have made such excellent points here, and like you, I, too, do not believe that Susan not being present in the ending of the Last Battle and in the New, Real Narnia automatically means that she is forever banished from it, meaning Heaven. No, Like MR. Lewis has said, she will enter Aslan's Country in her own way, in her own or Aslan's perfect time. There is no way that He would be so cruel as to punish someone for their own choices like that. Teach them a lesson, maybe, but unless their choice ultimately leads to some form of a great or unforgivable sin, and we know that God forgives even those, I don't think eternal damnation is in the picture at all. Philip Pullman and JK Rowling and all those other critics should read this, honestly! No, seriously, sexuality is not in the question; Lewis obviously meant the nature of superficial things and not THE superficial things. There is nothing at all wrong with parties and dates or boys and a social life, it is the attachment to those things that is the problem. Susan has had this problem. Her attachment with Narnia itself made her have a sort of different connection/relationship with Aslan, as you've mentioned. And her attachment to all those worldly things became a kind of protection for her; a tool that she used that there is no other world other than this one. In other words, she let herself get so attached to worldly things to get used to the world where they belonged, and not that other world where SHE belonged.

Ah, not sure if that made sense at all! Well, not important, your piece did. It made a lot of sense, in fact, that one could not possibly hope to match it, let alone me, a humble reader/reviewer. Haha! At least I understood you, and since that wis the objected of essays, it is enough. I am happy, happily enlightened. :)

Awesome of you to cite Lewis' dedication in LWW to his goddaughter, by the way. Agree with that, absolutely.

Lewis doing what he did with Susan in LB must not be taken that she has been exiled from Narnia or Heaven itself because of puberty or her simply being the lady that she is; being her true age, no. She is in no way damned. That part of LB, I believe, is included by Lewis simply to remind us that not everyone gets there by the same means. Not everyone finds Aslan's name in this world in the same ways. Not everyone finds salvation like all the others, and certainly not at the same time. All things in their perfect time, for their own reason, right?

Such a remarkable, superb, magnificent piece! All your fellow fan fiction writers are blessed to have an example such as you. Keep it up! Hope they, and other people really, truly take the time to read this!. God bless you for writing this!
Guest chapter 1 . 5/27/2013
I think it's entirely possible Susan 'forgot' Narnia because she simply couldn't bear to remember it. There's an old saying: "Better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all": but possibly Susan didn't see it that way. Frankly, if I'd been her, I suspect I'd have viewed being sent back to the 'real' world as being sentenced to life in prison.
And I don't think most of us are much different: we get caught up in right here and right now. Against the immediate, heaven has very little reality: hard to live your life for something that's 'someday and maybe' when there's music and love and laughter right here and right now.
I think, too, that Lewis was a bit stuck: to make the allegory real, one of the invited guests had choose not to accept the invitation. Peter was out, because he was High King, and Lewis admitted that he wasn't comfortable with the thought of women priests. Lucy was the personification of youthful innocence - a role Susan was too mature for. Edmund knew that Aslan had died to save him from the White Witch, and it'd be simply impossible for anyone to believe that he'd ignore that: if someone saves your life, even if not at the cost of their own, you don't tell them to drop dead. That really left Lewis with only Susan - at least in terms of characters his readers would really be invested in. (It could have been Polly or Eustace or Diggory instead of Susan, but it don't think anyone identified with any of those three the way they did with Lucy, Edmund, Susan and Peter. Caspian was out, of course, because he remained in Narnia with Aslan always directly accessible.)
Ava Whitlock chapter 1 . 11/14/2012
Thank you. That provided the best insight I have read on Susan. chapter 1 . 1/8/2012
While you make a good argument, you got it all completely wrong and if that's how Gaiman's short tells it, then he has it wrong too.

See, Susan wasn't punished because she hit puberty, she was punished for essentially becoming atheist. By "preferring nylons and lipstick over invitations to Narnia" she basically turned her back on god in favor of "the real world". She even goes so far as to refer to her time in Narnia as "that old game we played" according to Eustace. You have to remember, they all grew old their first time in Narnia, living out an entire lifetime. If you read the mid-quel 'The Horse and His Boy' it gives a little insight to their lives in Narnia at middle age, and despite not having children or getting married, they seem to live normal fantasy monarch lives including an attempted forced marriage for Susan.

Because 'The Last Battle' is based around Armageddon, Lewis used Susan to demonstrate what will happen to people who turn their back on their faith as they "grow up" because he couldn't use anyone else, Lucy never stopped believing and the others already had their religious crises.

Long story short, Susan was not punished for hitting puberty. Susan was denied entrance into the Sacred Garden *Heaven* because she no longer believed in it. And really you shouldn't feel sorry for her, you should be patting her on the back because everyone else who believed Aslan was their savior ended up dead! o_o She's the only main character who survived The Last Battle and probably lived a long and happy life with many children.
Once a Susan chapter 1 . 4/2/2011
I agree with much of what you wrote, now I do want to offer a bit of my own perspective. I don't beelive her siblings truly gave up on her at first, however, as you said Narnia is really their first thought Narnia and Aslan, and much of what they probably discussed and felt, went back to those two topics, now Susan at first will sit through them, but as she grows more distant, unable to bear the thought of never going back, begins defending herself with 'it's just stories'and 'oh won't you grow up' if she fills her time with friends and boys she may have unwittingly or on purpose, distanced herself from the others, maybe even out a a small amount of shame for not being 'strong enough' to remain faithful.
Imperial Duchess of Xybria chapter 1 . 7/10/2010
Thank you so much for writing this.

I'm a fanfic writer, and one of my stories are about Susan. Like you, while reading the series, she was the one I identified with the most. Call it eldest-daughter-syndrome. Even if you don't want to, you echo your mom's voice, those cliche words you roll your eyes at but it's those same words that you harp on to your younger siblings. Sadly, no cure for that, haha.

I agree, I was appalled when reading N. Gaiman's short story "The Problem of Susan" reviews. I was like, "dang, that just totally ruined the goodness of the image I imagined of Aslan. No, no!"

Susan needed defending, justice. I know Lewis was writing for children and in children's tales, believing and having faith are key elements in fantasy. But Lewis was also showing the aspect of growing up, specifically when it's a girl. Girls mature faster than boys, and frankly, grasps common sense faster too..i don’t think that’s a crime Susan should pay for. It’s not a crime at all. Like you said, it’s a part of life: growing up.

And what you said simply that the reason Susan wasn’t on the train crash thus leading to the Seven Friends’ return to Narnia was because she wasn’t on the train was justice, I believe. She wasn’t there, so she wasn’t in the “ride” back to Narnia, therefore NOT in the Last Battle.

As for Peter’s “She no longer a friend of Narnia,” gave me an idea. What if Peter and Susan had an argument prior to the train crash, and he misinterpreted her? Or about Jill’s remarks about all Susan cared about was lipstick and nylons? Susan is a woman; of course fashion would be like a “religion” to her. But due to her absence, she’s not there to defend herself when Jill and Eustace made those comments. She may have liked fashion more than liking Narnia, but that doesn’t mean she totally replaced her belief in Narnia and forgot it completely.

Let’s liken this situation to a cellphone.

Your current cellphone model, not so new, but it’s special to you because you bought it with your own money. A new model comes out and you’re lucky enough to win it in a lottery. The new model becomes your new favorite and you use it often. But then you see your old model and remember the hardships and sacrifices you went thru to get enough money to buy it. Then you realize: old model cellphone has more value because I suffered to obtain it.

Narnia old but valuable cellphone

Nylons new lottery-won cellphone

Becoming a woman is hard; body issues, beauty products, fashion updates, peer pressure, BOYS, and the age-old battle of the up-down bamboozling effect of the entities called self-esteem and self-worth. I guess with all that to deal with, Narnia was pushed into the back of the steel filing cabinet of her mind.

But that doesn’t mean she totally forgot about Narnia. She just got “temporarily blinded” by new “toys” so her disdain and looking-down on Narnia came forth.

Aren’t we sometimes guilty of that? When our younger siblings are gushing about Barbie and My Little Pony Tales, we roll our eyes and tell them how baby-ish they are and move on to more interesting topics “according to our age level.” But really, secretly inside we smile when we see our favorite childhood Saturday morning cartoons and hum the opening lines to Sky Dancers.

I have faith in Susan, even when most people won’t or don’t. Sometimes we have to believe in a person before that person can believe in herself. Don’t throw Susan away.

Along with her, Edmund was also a favorite character. His true show of redemption and reconciliation came thru. When Aslan’s armies tagged him as traitor, Aslan and the remaining Pevensies still held out faith for Edmund.

Let’s do that for Susan. She needs our faith, the way Aslan and the Pevensies believed in Edmund. He had time to think things thru when he was locked up in Jadis’ dungeon. Perhaps the time after the train crash was Susan’s own version of “Jadis’ dungeon.”

So, as a way of “healing” that unsightly gash of a wound after reading N. G.’s version of Susan’s time on earth post-train crash, I’m in the process of finishing a fanfiction. It may not be the intended story for her, who will ever know that but Lewis himself. But at least, I’ll be able to give her some justice, to let her voice speak, and give her reasons as to why she wasn’t with the Seven Friends on the platform.

Thanks again!

God bless.


BAW chapter 1 . 5/24/2010
"Once a king or queen in Narnia, always a king or queen in Narnia." Susan will find her way back to Narnia, sooner or later; and Aslan said, "I call all times soon."

Aslan also says that He tells nobody anyone else's story but his or her own.

Do you trust Aslan? If you do, then you trust that He will bring Susan back in His own good time and His own good way.

The details are 'need to know.' And you don't.
Howlin chapter 1 . 8/12/2009
This is a beautifully written essay; excellent job.

Susan's absense from TLB had always irritated me: but I particularly like your explanation of how she used 'lipsticks and invitations' to fill the void that SHOULD have been Narnia. Brilliant thought, one I've never considered.
Ramandu99 chapter 1 . 4/19/2009
This is an excellent essay and more than compensates for not reading Gaiman's piece.
Edensong chapter 1 . 10/2/2008
That was amazing! As a child, growing up on these books - C. S. Lewis is still my hero - I was so sad and terrified when Susan deserted Narnia. I didn't want her to be part of that world - which wasn't one I ever saw as being of sex and adults but of trying too hard to be something else - and this is such an interesting perspective that really speaks to me. Thank you.
Justme chapter 1 . 6/8/2008
Without spaces and without w. in front of it.

Justme chapter 1 . 6/8/2008
Sorry, the link to the first page of the essay is

Justme chapter 1 . 6/8/2008
Hey! It's "just me" again. I found this real good article on the issue.


It is great if you can follow it.
Justme chapter 1 . 5/30/2008
I totally agree. Especially with the part about the dedication of the LWW. I do not know if you are aware of this, but during TLB when they are all talking about Susan, Lucy says Susan is too old or something like that. Polly then counters that by saying she is not old enough. That sounds like exactly what C. S. Lewis was saying in the dedication of the LWW. I think it was not an accident. I also think that Aslan would not have had Susan leave Narnia if she was not ready.

I have one question for you. I have read the Narnia books many times, but that was a long time ago. I can't remember where Aslan said, "Once a king or queen of Narnia, alway a king or queen of Narnia". It sound familiar, so I don't think it was just in the movies. Do you know what book and part it takes place in? Thanks.
Alexander chapter 1 . 5/24/2008
Couldn't agree more. Susan did get the shaft. If I had a fictionpress account, this would be in my favourites list.
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