Fantasy: ‘Healing’ in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, The Scar and The Alphabet of Thorn

The art of fiction is one of the oldest forms of communications that artists employ to pass on various forms of information to the society. Fictions tend to mirror the society in a variety of ways by addressing the issues that affect the society directly. Fantasizing is an aspect of fiction that characterizes many fictional writings in different literary works. The changes taking place in the society influences literature in many forms and shapes depending on the writers’ choice and preferences. These changes affect the delivery and components of various literary forms focused in different works of literature. The theme of healing has been fantasized in various ways and aspects in the works of China Mieville (The Scar), Patricia A. McKillip (The Alphabet of Thorn), and C.S Lewis (The Voyage of the Dawn Treader). Based on the three novels, the fantasies and changing phases of healing has been illustrated in the succeeding sections of this research.

The art of healing, as brought out in the three fictional works is illustrated in deeper symbolism to portray the process of emotional healing following the commission of a wrong to another person, usually considered the wronged. Though portrayed as an inevitable and not easy task to be accomplished by the wronged, Mieville observes that it is the alternative to forgetting whatever belongs to the past and focusing forging forward with force. Mieville sets the introductory pace for the need to seek for healing, among the wronged persons, in the novel, The Scar. The existence of a scar symbolizes an injury that was inflicted on the respective persons long ago and whose effects continue to be manifested in the form of a scar. However, the normal condition of a scar is that it is derived from a wound formally inflicted on the individuals and which has healed and no longer bring pain and discomfort to the affected persons. For these reasons, even though the scar stays, the healing power that comes with the scar after some time is what erases the effects and the pains experienced in the past and thus making the persons whole and happy again. These facts are confirmed in Mieville’s writings when he says; “Scars are not injuries, Tanner Sack. A scar is healing. After injury, a scar is what makes you whole” (Mieville, 13)     

The origin of the scar (wrongness) is described by Mieville by referring to the fantastic imaginations held by Bellis, Tanner, and Shekel. The trio lands in a new city and gets the opportunity to reimagine themselves in complete, profound ways. Instead, the immense imaginations that characterize their going into the new city turn out just be their new trap and thus affects the way they face the final reality before them. The new imaginations open them to manipulations by other people they meet in the city. In fact, the expected opportunities seem to be limitless impossibilities functioning as their source of scarification.

The relationships between the three novels relate to the manner in which they use fantasy to develop the contexts of their stories and come up with the complex coordination of events describing instances of wrongs and healings pursued by various individuals. The wrongs committed at the different instances by the different persons illustrate the infliction of the scars upon the respective persons (the scarification process). The convergence point in the whole process is, however, the manner in which the whole process of scarification occurs and the healing processes that are associated with them. In The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, Lewis describes the Eustace process of joining the company at the ship, though with the bad motives, to cause emotional injuries to the occupants of the ship. With these intentions, the crosses lines with Reepicheep, a ferocious and honorable occupant of the ship. As a result of the clash, Reepcheep warns Eustace of a sword fight if he does not abandon his bad motives.

It is common that the wronged persons need to heal up to be able to fit back into the society and relate properly to all members of the respective societies. The healing itself is, however, an elaborate process that can sometimes take a lifetime to accomplish. Lewis, Mieville and McKillip develop the healing process in systematic and fantasized manners that promote a thrilling effect as well as learning opportunities for their readers. The conditions and factors that lead to the healing process in various individuals and under different circumstances are well-illustrated in the three books in a fascinating manner suitable for a work of fiction. The systematic processes of healing are preceded by the infliction of the scars on the respective characters, on their villains. For instance, Eustace is described by Lewis as a troublesome boy, one whose main intentions are to cause troubles, pains and sufferings on the persons he comes across. Eustace’s parents are described as good people, well character and mannered as opposed to their boy whose traits are a complete opposite of his parents, a fact equated to wrongdoing and unworthy of a child to good parents.

In their narrations, the three authors describe the process of healing to begin with the persons that are wronged. The entire healing process can be envisioned to occur sequentially and go through a variety of steps and stages to be accomplished entirely. Setting the pace for the healing process in various characters, the three authors begin the description with the infliction of a wrong in the individual characters, a fact that creates the necessary grounds for the healing process to occur. To illustrate these, Mieville illustrates the condition of the occupants of the ship set assail to the new colony. Many of the occupants here are characterized by desolation and desperate. Among them are slaves, convicts, and other people fleeing away from New Crobuzon. As seen from the description of the ship, all ship occupants are characterized by one aspect; all have been wronged in one way or another and are therefore fleeing the region to look for safety, healing in another region.

Likewise, the setting of the healing process in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader and the Alphabet of Thorn are also preceded with the infliction of the injuries through wrongness. In the Alphabet of Thorn, Nepenthe, despite having lived in the labyrinth royal library, nurses the wounds of emotional scars stemming from her windswept cliffs from where she was rescued. These wounds have developed throughout the life of Nepenthe to the age sixteen when she becomes an adult and begins to realize the need to start healing up from these ancient would. However, the process is no easy as she keeps colliding with other characters she comes across and associates with. Similar circumstances are experienced in the Voyage of the Dawn Treader, characterized by Eustace, the trouble maker throughout the story.

The logical organization of the human emotional conditions is that the persons that have been wronged in any way are the ones who need to heal up from these, as wrongs call for healing. From the descriptions, it is evident that the process of healing begins after the completion of wrongness and consequently after the wronging persons have departed from the lives of the wronged. This evident is seen all through the three story lines and thus helps to develop the understanding of the contexts in which the three authors place the subject. Following this stage is the personal healing which is concerned primarily with the individual wronged persons. The three writers portray the process of healing as an elaborate and well-established process with the beginning as well as the end. However, as Mieville records, on most occasions, the healing process cannot be achieved satisfactorily. The descriptions of the scar, its occurrence and presentence on the body are a constant reminder about the circumstances under which the scars were obtained. This constant reminder keeps knocking the scar and reminding the persons of the pains they experienced, a fact that keeps memories of the past alive and haunting on the respective individuals. This is the reason Mieville asserted that Scars are not injuries, Tanner Sack. A scar is healing. After the injury, a scar is what makes you whole to emphasize the reminding role that the scars play in the lives of the individuals to ensure that they keep updating themselves with the occurrences of the past.  

Following the discoveries marked in the three texts, it is clear that the systematic process of healing as evident in the stories to begin with the individual persona at the personal level. Before the persons recognize the need and begin to start healing up, they are confined within their cocoons of pain and disablement. Once they decide to begin the healing process, however, they have to begin by forgiving themselves and beginning yet a new walk, away from the points where the wounds were inflicted (the scars created). When the occupants of the ship in the scar begins to walk away from New Cobuzon and begin a new life in the distant land yet, they are confined in the pains that they harbour within them and thus continues to feel the wrong that was committed to them. In the same way, Nepenthe discovers her healing power from the love of books and solving puzzles. Through the realization of her potential in decoding words and scripts that are unknown to other people, she gains the potential to face the world which initially considered her unworthy. Nepenthe then finds an avenue through which she can shade away the pains of neglect and dissolution that overshadowed her might previously.

The second stage or level of the healing process can be summarized as moving away from the former positions to a different destination in which the wronged persons can get sufficient time to heal up. It is common that the healing process occurs best under circumstances that are different from the conditions under which the wrongs were committed. The movement process facilitates the healing process by shielding the individual persons from their pasts. Though the books fantasize the movement and the healing process as driven entirely by the emotions of the past, the reality of the matter is described to be associated with fleeing from the past happenings in pursuit for future lives away from the pasts. This process is often driven by extreme emotions and influences of the past which keep driving the respective individuals to the respective definitions.

Nepenthe, for instance, takes her flight from the past into the future through her new found interests in books, schooling and the entire life that revolves around the books and reading. In this case, therefore, Nepenthe’s new area of interest acts as his fleeing boat that she uses to move from her former state of desperation to the newly developed status, a form that is decided upon and established by herself. On the other hand, the occupants of the boat in McKillip’s Alphabet of Thorn are fleeing away from the former point in which the injuries they harbour were inflicted on them. This aspect helps to develop the understanding that moving away from the points of offending facilitates the healing process on the various individuals. Moving away from the former places of injuries can be equated to the decision to begin a new life in after the former life is distorted and broken beyond repair

The third and the last change state in the process of healing is established more clearly in the works of Mieville and Lewis. This stage is characterized by the decisions made by the respective individuals to make peace within themselves and with one another. It brings the offended and the offender (the wronged and the wrongdoer) together in a bid to help in creating the appropriate understanding between the two contesting parties. This stage is known as the peacekeeping process and is what helps the concerned persons to recover from their past conditions into the new statuses. Successful completion of these processes helps to accomplish the ultimate goals of the healing process

To conclude, the art of fiction is probably the oldest form of literature that has evolved tremendously to affect the present society just, in the same way; it did in the past. The fictional world though regarded as occurring within a virtual world, dealing only with mental pictures rather than recounting the facts as they happen in the world, resemble the occurrences happening in the society very closely. Fictional writing has been used in various ways to achieve certain integral themes that address various aspects of the society. This research has focused on the three primary works of fiction that depict various aspects of the society. The research has developed the depiction of the process of healing from its inception to the end based on three works of fiction: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader by Lewis, The Alphabet of Thorn by Mckillip and The Scar by China Mieville. The research has established that the process of healing, as described in the novels, is an elaborate process that is accomplished in three primary steps: recognition of the need to heal, making the necessary move to healing and the execution of the healing process.    

Works Cited

China Mieville, The Scar, New York: Macmillan Publishers. 2002. Print.

Patricia A. McKillip, “The Alphabet of Thorn” New York: The Berkley Publishing Group. 2004. Print.

Lewis, C. Staples. “The Voyage of the Dawn Treader,” United Kingdom: Geoffrey Bles. 1952. Print.