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Chronicles of Narnia Unit Study

Chapter 5: The Deplorable Word

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Summary

Digory and Polly are staring at each other as the sound from the bell ceases. The beautiful crowned and robed woman rises from her chair. Her appearance is proof that she is a great queen. Her face shows no emotion over her surroundings or of the presence of the children. She approaches the children and asks them who has broken the spell and awoken her from it. Digory replies that it must have been him since he is the one who rang the bell. The queen lays her strong white hand on his shoulders and comments on Digory not being of royal blood. She further questions him on how such a commoner dare enter her house. Polly replies that they have come via magic but the Queen pays her no attention. Instead the Queen questions Digory who confirms what Polly has just stated. The Queen makes Digory look her in the eyes but he feels overpowered by her gaze and so he lowers his eyes. She states that Digory does not have "the mark" of a magician, that it must be through someone else's magic that the children must have arrived to her world. Digory tells her it is by his Uncle Andrew's magic.
 
Then there is rumbling, creaking, shaking floors and peril. The Queen states without emotion or fear that the palace is breaking up; that if they don't leave in a few minutes they will be buried under the rubble. The Queen took a hand of each child and starts leading them out of the Hall of Images and into a long corridor. Polly instantly thinks that the Queen is a terrible person and doesn't like how strong the Queen is. She also doesn't like the fact that she can't get to her yellow ring.
They go through a whole maze of halls, stairs and courtyards as the palace continues to collapse. The Queen shows no fear as the children are practically running to keep up with her.
 
Digory thinks the Queen is very brave and admires her. As they are walking fast, the Queen points out to the children the door to the dungeons, a passage that leads to the principal torture chambers, and an old banquet hall where her great-grandfather had seven hundred rebellious nobles killed. Then they enter a large hall that had great doors at the far end. She says something that sounds horrid to turn the doors into dust at the threshold. At that, she tells the children to remember what they'd just seen and that this is what happens to things and people who stand in her way.
 
A cold, stale wind blows onto their faces as they step out onto a terrace, observing a great landscape in the distance. The sun in this world is red and bigger than Earth's sun. The sky was dark, despite one lonely bright star to the left of the sun. The city of Charn is a ghost town and the Queen proceeds to tell the children how Charn was once a city of trampling feet, creaking wheels, cracking whips, groaning slaves, thunderous chariots, and sacrificial drums beating in the temples. She then tells the children that all was wiped out by herself, Queen Jadis of Charn, because her sister would not yield the throne to her. As a result, Queen Jadis spoke The Deplorable Word with its proper ceremonies, thereby destroying all life in her city, including that of her own sister.
 
When Digory comments on how awful it was for her subjects, the Queen goes on to say that a commoner would not understand the reasons of State, that nobles must be freed of all rules, of which theirs is a "high and lonely destiny". She doesn't believe Digory when he denies that his Uncle Andrew is a King in their world.
 
The Queen explains how the spells she cast upon the Hall of Images where her ancestors sit, also forced her into a sleep among them. She did not need food or fire, and that after a thousand years the ringing of the bell broke the spell. When Digory questions her about the sun in her world being so red, she realizes that Digory comes from a younger world. This made the children nervous because the last thing they wanted was HER coming to THEIR world. But this is exactly what she tells the children she is planning to do. The children try to convince her that she wouldn't find their world worth seeing. The Queen responds by saying that once she is ruling their world she will find it worth seeing.
 
The Queen believes that Digory's uncle must somehow be a great King and great Enchanter, because commoners could not possess such powers or abilities to travel into other worlds. She believes this is all part of some complex plan to fetch her from her world because of his love for her beauty. Polly exclaims this is "absolute bosh from beginning to end." The Queen then lets go of the children's hands, grabs Polly's hair, which gives them a chance to grab their rings. Then in an instant they find themselves rushing toward a warm green light.