A synopsis of The Silver Chair, with a smattering of Puddleglum’s inspiring sayings

Two children, Jill and Eustace, are sent to Narnia by Aslan on a mission to find the lost Prince Rilian. Before long they arrive at the wigwam of a hospitable Marshwiggle, named Puddleglum. Puddleglum greets them: “Good morning, Guests. Though when I say good I don’t mean it won’t probably turn to rain or it might be snow, or fog, or thunder. You didn’t get any sleep, I daresay.”

The children and the Marshwiggle set out on their search for the prince. Of course Puddleglum would not be left behind: “Don’t lose heart, [Jill]. I’m coming, sure and certain….It will do me good. They all say–I mean, the other wiggles all say–that I’m too flighty; don’t take life seriously enough. If they’ve said it once, they’ve said it a thousand times. ‘Puddleglum,’ they’ve said, ‘you’re altogether too full of bobance and bounce and high spirits. You’ve got to learn that life isn’t all fricasseed frogs and eel pie….'”

After running into (or rather away from) giants, the travelers pass two mysterious people on horseback. The lady tells them to go to the Gentle Giants at Harfang. Obsessed by the idea of warm food and beds, Jill forgets to recite the signs Aslan gave her. Soon they are at Harfang, and discover that the Gentle Giants’ real motive for hospitality is eating them. Puddleglum, good old chap, takes the blame for not stopping the children from Harfang. “Didn’t try hard enough [to make you stop], though. And I’d no call to be trying. I ought to have done it.” (My personal favorite line)

They eventually escape the castle and fall underground. Taken prisoner by gnomes, the adventurers end up in the same room as Prince Rilian, who is under an enchantment. They don’t realize who he is, until he fulfills Aslan’s fourth sign by mentioning the name of Aslan. Fearing for their lives, they dare not break his chains. But Puddleglum the Chivalrous says, “Well, you see, Aslan didn’t tell [Jill] what would happen. He only told her what to do. That fellow will be the death of us all, I shouldn’t wonder. But that doesn’t let us off following the Sign.”

When they did free Rilian, they were delighted to discover that he was the true prince. However, the witch returns, and long discussion ensues, while the witch tries to make the Narnians believe that there is no world, no sun, nothing but her underground kingdom. (Sounds awfully like some people today, doesn’t it?) Using her magic fire, she almost has them believing in her. Were it not for Puddleglum’s heroic act of stamping out the fire, they would have fallen under the spell. Talking to the witch:

“Suppose we have only dreamed, or made up, all those things–trees and grass and sun and moon and stars and Aslan himself. Suppose we have. Then all I can say is that, in that case, the made-up things seem a good deal more important than the real ones. Suppose this black pit of a kingdom of yours is the only world. Well, it strikes me as a pretty poor one….I’m on Aslan’s side even if there isn’t any Aslan to lead it. I’m going to live as like a Narnian as I can even if there isn’t any Narnia….we’re leaving your court at once and setting out in the dark to spend our lives looking for Overland. Not that our lives will be very long, I should think; but that’s small loss if the world’s as dull a place as you say.”

Prince Rilian kills the witch, and they all escape from the crumbling Underworld. Greeted as heroes by their Narnian friends, they must now separate. The prince returns to his father, and the children must now go home. Jill gives Puddleglum an unexpected kiss. We leave dear old Puddleglum talking to himself: “Well, I wouldn’t have dreamed of her doing that. Even though I am a good-looking chap.”


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