"Tame? Is Aslan a tame lion? Of course he's not tame. But he's good," so describes Mr. Beaver in C.S Lewis' The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe. Through a teaching career spanning twenty-four years so far, I've read the complete Chronicles of Narnia every year to an increasingly diverse student population of fourth and fifth graders. Every year I learn something new about my favorite character Aslan and his supporting cast, Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy.
One of my favorite scenes out of all seven books is in the third book, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, which just happens to be the one they've just made into a movie coming out in December. Eustace, the Pevensies' annoying cousin has become a dragon by sleeping on a dragon's treasure. He spends several excrutiating weeks in this form and is much more helpful in this manifestation than he ever was as a boy. One night he is awakened by a lion and urged to follow it to a pool. The same pool that showed him his reflection as a dragon for the first time. Aslan urges him to step into the pool and just before he does, Aslan stops him and tells him he must undress first.
Eustace begins scraping at his scales and is able to get a layer off. He moves toward the pool, but once again is stopped by Aslan.He is still a dragon. He repeats the self- scraping and is able to release another layer. Much to his despair, he is still a dragon. The process is repeated. Eustace becomes frantic that he will not ever get into the pool. Aslan then steps in. He tells Eustace he will never do it by himself, that He, Aslan must undress him.
Aslan uses his sharp lion's claws to rip through all the 'dragonness' of Eustace, and according to Eustace it hurt like 'billy-oh'. Finally he is allowed to step into the pool, naked, pink, and raw. All his wounds are healed in the pool. For me this defines at once both Aslan's gentleness as well as his ferociousness. He is unwilling for Eustace to remain in his dragon state. By allowing Eustace to attempt to fix himself, he allows him to experience some of the suffering Aslan did on the stone table. There is no way Eustace would have been able to get all his scales off by himself. Aslan must intercede.
Throughout these seven books, Aslan proves himself to be a character worthy of adoration and respect. I like to use him as a model of integrity, honesty, and doing the right thing against terrible odds. That is why I chose him as my favorite literary character.