June 2, 2013

By  Oak Norton

Red dragon

In C.S. Lewis’s book “The Voyage of the Dawn Treader,” a young boy named Eustace discovers a dragon emerging from a cave.

Lewis describes the scene this way: “Something was crawling. Worse still, something was coming out [of the cave]. Edmund or Lucy or you would have recognized it at once, but Eustace had read none of the right books. The thing that came out of the cave was something he had never even imagined – a long lead-colored snout, dull red eyes, no feathers or fur, a long lithe body that trailed on the ground, legs whose elbows went up higher than its back like a spider’s, cruel claws, bat’s wings that made a rasping noise on the stones, yards of tail. And the two little lines of smoke were coming from its two nostrils. He never said the word Dragon to himself. Nor would it have made things any better if he had.”

Later on after the dragon dies, Eustace seeks shelter from the rain inside the dragon’s cave. Lewis continues, “Most of us know what we should expect to find in a dragon’s lair, but, as I said before, Eustace had read only the wrong books. They had a lot to say about exports and imports and governments and drains, but they were weak on dragons.”

Lewis wrote that Eustace had read none of the right books because up to this point his life had been consumed by only things he thought were important for getting a job. He didn’t know what this creature was and the dangers associated with it. He hadn’t broadened his knowledge or used his imagination.

Discuss: What other dragons can anyone name that might be from books, TV, or movies?

(Some dragons might include Smaug from Tolkien’s book “The Hobbit,” Puff from the movie “Puff the Magic Dragon,” Saphira from Christopher Paolini’s book “Eragon,” Toothless from the movie “How to Train Your Dragon,” the dragon in “Shrek,” etc.)

Discuss: Have everyone imagine they are a dragon and describe their characteristics such as color, size, powers, temperament, personality, etc. Would you be a scary dragon, or a cute and friendly one?

Albert Einstein wrote, “If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairy tales. If you want them to be more intelligent, read them more fairy tales. When I examine myself and my methods of thought, I come to the conclusion that the gift of fantasy has meant more to me than any talent for abstract, positive thinking.”

Comedian Yakov Smirnoff wrote, “We may have forgotten how to feel. Nobody is teaching us how to live happily ever after, as we’ve heard in fairy tales.”

If all we study is nonfiction, factual books, and never explore other great literature, even fantasies, we may place boundaries on our thinking. These stories typically include heroes and tales of courage and bravery, and the idea that in the darkest of times, the sun will rise again for those who endure through their challenges.

Discuss: What is the most memorable lesson you have learned from a work of fiction?

(Image by Anna Bogatyreva @ 123rf.com)

Oak Norton

Father of 5 children, husband to 1 amazingly patient woman, entrepreneur, and education advocate.

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