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Chronicles of Narnia Unit Study

Chapter 1: How Shasta Set Out on His Travels

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Summary

During the "Golden Age" an adventure happens in Narnia, Calormen and  in the lands in between.  Peter is High King in Narnia.
 
A poor fisherman, Arsheesh, has a boy, Shasta, who calls him Father. On days in which Arsheesh manages to sell lots of fish, he comes  home and is indifferent to Shasta.  On days he doesn't sell well, Arsheesh beats Shasta when he gets home. Shasta always has chores: mending, washing nets, cooking supper, and cleaning the cottage.
 
Shasta does not  care to find out more about the lands that lay south of where he is. He longs to explore the North, but Arsheesh has never been there and doesn't care to go.  Shasta is convinced that Arsheesh is hiding some wonderful secret from him concerning the North. Arsheesh dismisses  Shasta's curiousity about traveling North.
 
One day, a royal-looking stranger from the south arrives on a dappled horse insisting on hospitality from Arsheesh, who bows down to him. He directs Shasta to do likewise.  Because Arsheesh must provide food and shelter to this man for the evening, Shasta only gets to eat a piece of bread and must sleep out of the cottage for the night.
 
Times like this he would usually sleep with the donkey, but it was too early to try to sleep. Shasta eavesdrops on the conversation between Arsheesh and the stranger.  He hears them trying to bargain a price for selling Shasta to the stranger. Shasta can tell is thinking greedily about this potential deal. When Arsheesh tries to feign strong emotional ties to his "son", the stranger  calls him on it and says point blank that there is no possible way that Shasta could be his biological son.  For one, Arsheesh is dark and Shasta is "fair and white like the accursed but beautiful barbarians who inhabit the remote North."
 
Arsheesh then explains how he came upon the boy when he was just a baby floating in a stray boat, along with a man who had apparently just died from starvation. While telling this story, Arsheesh exaggerates his 'kindness' toward the boy until the stranger tells him to stop talking such nonsense.  It is very clear that Arsheesh has treated Shasta like nothing more than a slave, to which Arsheesh then uses  that point to emphasize Shasta's worth to him. The stranger tells Arsheesh that whatever it has cost him to feed Shasta he has gotten ten times in monetary value from the work that Shasta has done for him.  Arsheesh points out that it would cost him a lot of money to hire someone else to do Shasta's work or to buy another boy to order around. 
 
Meanwhile Shasta goes out to where the dappled horse is kept outside and wonders out loud whether the stranger is a nicer man than Arsheesh. He wonders maybe he would be better off with the stranger. He wishes out loud that the horse could speak and tell him whether the stranger, the Tarkaan, is cruel or kind.
 
The horse ends up telling him that he can indeed speak and proceeds to tell Shasta he would be better off dead  than being enslaved by the Tarkaan.  The horse explains that he is from Narnia. He tells Shasta that he can plainly see that Shasta himself is also of Northern origin. This makes  Shasta feel good  to know that Arsheesh is not his father.
 
Shasta and the horse [ who Shasta ends up calling 'Bree'] devise a plan to escape together.  They need each other.  A stray horse without a rider will be caught and stolen.  A runaway child cannot get as far as fast on two human legs. 

When the time is right, they steal away during the night while Arsheesh and the Tarkaan are asleep. They are careful to not leave tracks indicating that they have traveled North. They leave misleading tracks. Shasta has to learn how to ride a horse on the fly because he has never done it before. They head North.