Characters & Layers of The Magician’s Nephew – The Chronicles of Narnia

The Boy Who Cried

When we first meet Digory Kirke, he is crying.

This would be striking enough in a contemporary novel, but consider that The Magician’s Nephew was published in 1955. Even then, C.S. Lewis had no reservations introducing his young Victorian hero as a vulnerable figure. He then ushers in the foundational conflict of the story: Digory’s mother is dying. In spite of the liberal use of humor throughout the book, there is a stronger, darker undertone set in this very first scene.

Digory and his new friend Polly Plummer try to make the most of a very wet and boring summer. Polly is a sensible, smart girl whose friendship with Digory is complex, based on a mix of sympathy and tolerance for his occasional impetuosity. They go exploring in the attics of their connected houses and accidentally end up in the forbidden study of Digory’s uncle. What started as a game turns into a life-or-death situation, when they learn Digory’s uncle has been dabbling in magic.

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