Last Updated on May 5, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 3116
Chapter One: Lucy Looks into a Wardrobe
It is wartime, and four siblings (Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy) are sent away from their home in London to escape the air-raids. They go to stay at a large house in the country, where live a funny-looking old Professor (to whom they take an instant liking), a housekeeper named Mrs. Macready, and three servants. At the first opportunity the children explore the house, and after walking through a labyrinth of stairs, corridors, and rooms, they come to a spare room that is empty save for a big wardrobe. Uninterested, Peter, Susan, and Edmund move on, but Lucy stays behind to check out the wardrobe. She gets inside, moves through rows of fur coats and, to her amazement, walks right into the middle of a snow-covered forest at night. A light shining in the distance catches Lucy's eye and she goes toward it: it is a lamppost. As Lucy is wondering how a lamppost got to be in the middle of a forest, a Faun carrying brown-paper parcels steps out of the trees. The Faun is so startled at the sight of Lucy that he drops all his parcels.
Chapter Two: What Lucy Found There
The Faun introduces himself as Tumnus and invites Lucy back to his cave for tea. He serves lots of food, tells delightful stories, and plays a tune on an odd little flute that puts Lucy to sleep. When she wakes up, Mr. Tumnus starts crying uncontrollably and confesses to being in the pay of the White Witch, an evil queen who makes it always winter but never Christmas in Narnia. Her orders to him were that if ever he was to see a Son of Adam or Daughter of Eve in the forest, he must capture and deliver them to her. Mr. Tumnus explains that he was just pretending to be her friend so that he could lure her to his house, wait until she fell asleep, then sneak out and tell the witch, but now that he has gotten to know Lucy, he cannot bring himself to turn her over. Lucy thanks him, and he leads her back to the lamppost. She returns through the wardrobe and runs to tell her sister and brothers all that has happened.
Chapter Three: Edmund and the Wardrobe
Lucy's siblings do not believe her story, and when she tries to prove it by showing them the inside of the wardrobe, nothing is there except coats. Lucy is very upset, and Edmund makes matters worse by teasing her. A few days later, however, Edmund follows Lucy into the wardrobe during a game of hide-and-seek, and he too discovers Narnia. Edmund walks alone through the strange, dark wood, thinking that Lucy ran off because she is angry with him. Presently, he is met by a sledge pulled by two white reindeer and driven by a fat Dwarf. A very tall lady with pale white skin and bright red lips, sporting a white fur coat, golden crown, and golden wand, sits high up in the sledge. She does not recognize the sort of creature Edmund is, so she asks him. He has no idea what she means, so he says his name. The lady does not like the way Edmund is addressing her and asks him how he could talk to the Queen in such a manner. She is astounded to discover he did not know she was the Queen.
Chapter Four: Turkish Delight
The Queen soon finds out that Edmund is a Son of Adam, and she is about to do something terrible to him when another idea crosses her mind. She invites Edmund into her sledge and offers him a hot drink and several pounds of enchanted Turkish Delight, the kind that keeps one begging for more. She tells Edmund that he can be King of Narnia and eat all the Turkish Delight he wants if he brings his brother and sisters to her. The Queen leaves him with directions to her house and instructions not to tell anyone of their meeting. As Edmund watches the sledge disappear, Susan runs up and expresses her happiness that he got in, too. She says she just had lunch with Mr. Tumnus and found out all kinds of terrible things about the White Witch. Lucy cannot wait to tell everyone they have both been to Narnia, but Edmund is not excited about it. His stomach is hurting from the Turkish Delight, and his pride is hurt as well.
Chapter Five: Back on This Side of the Door
When Lucy tells Peter and Susan what happened, Edmund denies it and says Lucy is making it all up. Hurt and dejected, Lucy runs from the room, and Peter chastises Edmund for being "perfectly beastly" to her. The next morning, Peter and Susan go to the Professor for advice about what to do with Lucy. He surprises them by saying that since Lucy is a very truthful girl and obviously not insane, they must believe she is telling the truth. The subject of the wardrobe is dropped for some time; nobody talks about it or goes near it, that is, until the day the children run into the spare room to keep away from Mrs. Macready and a group of sightseers she is leading through the house. They think surely no one will follow them into that room, but then they hear someone fumbling at the door, and they all jump into the wardrobe.
Chapter Six: Into the Forest
The cramped, dark wardrobe opens up into the snowy wood. Peter apologizes to Lucy for not believing her, and then all eyes are on Edmund because of his lie. Peter suggests they go exploring with Lucy as the leader. She takes them to Mr. Tumnus's cave, which they find abandoned and in shambles. They also find a piece of paper with a message from Maugrim, the Captain of the Secret Police, explaining that Mr. Tumnus has been arrested on a charge of high treason. Lucy insists they go looking for him, since it was on account of his befriending her that he was arrested. Peter and Susan consent, although they have no idea how to begin looking. A bright red Robin appears, and Lucy gets the impression that the bird wants them to follow it. The Robin leads them through the forest, and all the time they are walking, Edmund questions whether they are doing the right thing.
Chapter Seven: A Day with the Beavers
The children follow the Robin to a place where they meet a Beaver, who has been cautiously observing them from behind the trees. It turns out he is a friend of Mr. Tumnus, and he tells the children they must speak quietly because the Witch's spies are everywhere. Assuming that they know more than they do, the Beaver whispers, "Aslan is on the move." The children, of course, have no idea who Aslan is, yet they all derive a certain comfort from the name. That is, all except Edmund, who is horrified by it. Lucy, who is very concerned about Mr. Tumnus, wants to know where he has been taken. The Beaver (called Mr. Beaver from now on) invites them back to his place for dinner where they can talk in secret. There they meet Mrs. Beaver, who graciously welcomes them, and they share a sumptuous meal of fish and potatoes. Mr. Beaver cocks an eye toward the window and remarks with satisfaction that it is snowing: the snow will cover their tracks and thereby prevent unwanted visitors.
Chapter Eight: What Happened after Dinner
After dinner, Mr. Beaver tells the children that Mr. Tumnus has probably been taken to the Witch's castle and turned into stone. He says they can do nothing for him without Aslan, the great lion and King of the wood, whom they are to meet the very next day at a place called the Stone Table. Mr. Beaver relates the prophecies that speak of how the White Witch's reign will come to an end when Aslan returns and two Sons of Adam and two Daughters of Eve sit on Cair Paravel's thrones. He explains that the White Witch will want to kill the children out of fear that they are the fulfillment to the prophecy. When Mr. Beaver finishes speaking, everyone notices Edmund is missing. They rush outside and call for him, but it is no use: he has gone to the White Witch. Mr. Beaver's biggest concern is that Edmund heard everything about Aslan and the meeting at the Stone Table and is going to tell the Witch; she will then try to stop them before reaching Aslan. Mrs. Beaver suggests they leave at once.
Chapter Nine: In the Witch's House
Edmund, who left the Beavers' house soon after Mr. Beaver spoke of the meeting with Aslan, stumbles over rocky and icy terrain to get to the Witch's house. As he walks, he dreams about everything he will do as King, including getting even with Peter. The Witch's house, a creepy little castle with towers, pointed spires, and shadows, has a courtyard filled with stone statues of all manner of creatures. Edmund climbs some steps to the threshold of a doorway where Maugrim the wolf lies quietly. Thinking Maugrim to be a statue like all the others, Edmund begins to step over him, but the huge wolf rises to block his way. Terrified, Edmund identifies himself and states his business. Maugrim fetches the White Witch, who is angry to see Edmund without his brother and sisters. Edmund explains that they are nearby, and he relates everything Mr. Beaver said about Aslan. The news about Aslan greatly startles the Witch. She orders her fat Dwarf to prepare the sledge.
Chapter Ten: The Spell Begins to Break
The children and Mr. Beaver impatiently wait for Mrs. Beaver as she packs food, matches, and handkerchiefs for the journey. After much fussing over what they should take, they finally set off and travel a great distance over ice and snow. Lucy is practically asleep on her feet when Mr. Beaver leads them to a secret hiding place in the ground where they rest for the night. They awake to the sound of sleigh bells. Up above, Father Christmas waits in his sledge with presents for everybody: Mrs. Beaver gets a new sewing machine delivered straight to her house, and Mr. Beaver gets a finished and fully repaired dam. Peter receives a sword and a shield, and Susan gets a bow, a quiver full of arrows, and an ivory horn that summons help whenever blown. Lucy receives a dagger (although Father Christmas tells her she is not to fight in the battle) and a cordial of special healing juice. Before leaving, Father Christmas breaks out one final present: hot tea for everyone. The children and the Beavers share an enjoyable breakfast before moving on.
Chapter Eleven: Aslan Is Nearer
Edmund could not be more miserable. He asks for Turkish Delight and the fat Dwarf brings him dry bread and water instead. Then, after ordering Maugrim and his swiftest wolves to hunt down the Beavers and humans, the Witch forces Edmund to go with her in her sledge on a long, cold journey to the Stone Table. En route, they pass a merry party of creatures feasting in the wood. This sight of such happiness angers the Witch, and when they tell her Father Christmas gave them the food, she becomes enraged. Despite Edmund's pleas, the Witch turns them all to stone then smacks Edmund hard on the face for asking favors for spies and traitors. They continue on, but their journey is slowed by a sudden thaw: the sledge keeps getting stuck in the mud. The Dwarf binds Edmund's hands, and they begin to walk. Trees bud, flowers bloom, and birds sing all around them. Spring has arrived, and, the Dwarf exclaims, it is Aslan's doing. The Witch responds, "If either of you mentions that name again … he shall instantly be killed."
Chapter Twelve: Peter's First Battle
The children and the Beavers travel across the greening countryside and up a hill to an open space where stands the Stone Table, a giant grey slab with strange lines and figures carved on it. Music heralds the approach of Aslan, who enters a pavilion surrounded by many forest animals and mythological creatures. Aslan welcomes the children and Beavers and says that all will be done to save Edmund, though it will not be easy. As a feast is being prepared, Aslan leads Peter to the eastern edge of the hilltop and shows him Cair Paravel, the far-off castle where Peter is to be king. Suddenly, the sound of Susan's horn summons Peter to battle. Maugrim and another wolf have infiltrated the camp, and to his horror, Peter sees Maugrim chase Susan up a tree. Peter kills Maugrim with his sword, and the other wolf darts away. Aslan orders his swiftest creatures after it, announcing that it will lead them to Edmund and the Witch. After Peter cleans his sword, Aslan knights him, "Sir Peter Wolf's—Bane."
Chapter Thirteen: Deep Magic from the Dawn of Time
After walking for what seems an eternity to Edmund, the Witch and the Dwarf hatch a plan to kill Edmund before he can be rescued. But just as the Witch is sharpening her stone knife, Aslan's rescue party arrives. Edmund is saved, but the Witch and the Dwarf escape using her magic. The next morning Edmund has a private conversation with Aslan that Edmund always remembers. Aslan then delivers Edmund to his siblings, telling them there is no need to speak of what has passed. Later, the Witch arrives and pronounces Edmund a traitor. She further proclaims that, according to the Law of the Deep Magic, she has the right to kill all traitors. Aslan requests a private conference with the Witch, during which they arrive at an agreement that will spare Edmund's life. The Queen, with "a look of fierce joy on her face," asks Aslan how she knows he will keep his promise. Aslan responds with a terrible half laugh, half roar.
Chapter Fourteen: The Triumph of the Witch
Aslan leads his forces from the hilltop to the Fords of Beruna, where they set up camp. He then discusses battle plans with Peter, telling him that he will be the one to lead the campaign. That night, Susan and Lucy find Aslan walking forlornly through the moonlit woods. He is sad but tells the girls he would be grateful if they walked with him for a while with their hands on his mane. They presently arrive at the hill leading up to the Stone Table, and Aslan says they must here part company. The girls cry uncontrollably as Aslan leaves and heads for the Stone Table, where the White Witch and her evil minions await. They bind, shave, and torture Aslan before dragging him onto the Stone Table. Susan and Lucy, watching from a safe distance, expect Aslan to fight back at any moment, but he never does. The Witch tells Aslan that his death accomplishes nothing because she is going to kill Edmund anyway. Susan and Lucy cannot bear to watch as the Witch drives her knife into Aslan's heart.
Chapter Fifteen: Deeper Magic from Before the Dawn of Time
The Witch charges off with her minions, and Susan and Lucy approach the Stone Table. They remove Aslan's muzzle but cannot unbind him because the knots are too tight. Suddenly, hundreds of little field mice appear and chew through the cords. The girls sit with Aslan all night, holding him and crying. At dawn they go for a walk to warm themselves and are startled by a thunderous cracking sound. They turn to see the Stone Table split and Aslan's body gone. Just as they wonder what it all means, Aslan, alive and well and standing behind them in the sunlight, explains: the Witch did not account for the Deeper Magic, which states that death will work backward when a willing victim who committed no crime is sacrificed in a traitor's stead. Overjoyed, Susan and Lucy shower Aslan with kisses, and they run and play all around the hilltop. Aslan lets out an earth-shaking roar, tells the girls to hop on his back, and off they go to the Witch's castle. When they arrive, Aslan makes a flying leap over the wall into the courtyard filled with stone statues.
Chapter Sixteen: What Happened about the Statues
Aslan frees the statues, one by one, by breathing on them. Before long, the whole courtyard erupts in joy. Susan gets a bit nervous when Aslan breathes on the Giant Rumblebuffin's feet, thinking it may not be safe, but Rumblebuffin turns out to be a friendly giant. One of the last statues to be freed is Mr. Tumnus, and he and Lucy dance for joy at their reuniting. Giant Rumblebuffin knocks down the gates with his giant club so they can get out, and Aslan leads the charge to the battlefront. They arrive to discover Peter's army badly depleted and fighting desperately. Stone statues dot the battlefield, so it is obvious the Witch has been using her wand, but at that moment, she is fighting Peter with her stone knife. Aslan erupts with another earth-shaking roar and hurls himself on the White Witch. Peter's tired army cheers, and the newcomers join in the fight.
Chapter Seventeen: The Hunting of the White Stag
Aslan kills the Witch, and the rest of his companions wipe out the Witch's forces. Peter says Edmund saved the day by smashing the Witch's wand to prevent her from turning any more of their army into stone, but in so doing Edmund was badly wounded. Lucy pours a few drops from her cordial into Edmund's mouth, he recovers fully, and Aslan knights him on the spot. The next day, Aslan crowns Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy kings and queens of Narnia at Cair Paravel. The Pevensies reign for many years, until one day they go on a hunt for the White Stag, believing that the White Stag will grant wishes to anyone who can catch him. They chase him into a thicket, where they discover a vaguely familiar lamppost. Thinking some new adventure or unexpected treasure awaits, they venture past it. Within moments, the children tumble out of the wardrobe into the spare room. Mrs. Macready and the guests are still out in the corridor. The children run to tell the Professor all that has happened, and he says that someday they will return to Narnia, but it will be when they least expect it.