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Eustace vs The Dragon

"There was a boy called Eustace Clarence Scrubb, and he almost deserved it." ~ C.S. Lewis

(The Voyage of the Dawn Treader)

(The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, 2010)

Oh, Eustace! If the phrase, “Bless your heart!” ever applied to anyone, it was definitely Eustace Scrubb. From the moment you meet him in “The Voyage of the Dawn Treader” he is an aggravating little twit who’s been groomed into a know-it-all by his know-it-all parents. He has a propensity to be demanding with little to offer in terms of usefulness outside of entertainment. In fact, when I first read “The Voyage of the Dawn Treader”, I was shocked to find that Eustace was brought to Narnia with Edmund and Lucy. Surely, there had been a mistake! He wasn’t worthy of experiencing the joys and wonder of Narnia… besides they wanted to escape their cousin, not get stuck in an alternate universe with him and yet, Aslan had a reason to call all THREE of them.

Truthfully, much of the story seems to revolve around Eustace and his folly, ultimately, leading to a battle with a dragon but I’m getting ahead of myself a bit. See, as much as I despise Eustace, I know that he is a reflection of me. That’s what makes him such a brilliant character because if we’re honest, we’ve all been a Eustace Scrubb. “How?” I hear you ask. Let me show you...

As Eustace reluctantly joins the Dawn Treader crew, he has to reluctantly join their adventures. He is thoroughly NOT having a good time and makes sure everyone knows how he feels. Have you ever been there? Where you can’t help but grumble and complain? When everything rubs you the wrong way? Or have you had to deal with someone that wants to just suck the joy out of every moment? I’ve been on both sides and my, oh my!

He also likes to remind himself and anyone within earshot that the current situation is not logical or possible. It’s the “This-Can’t-Be-Happening-To-Me Syndrome” that has afflicted all of us at some point and while I must admit that I’ve never been nearly drowned when a painting flooded a bedroom and then consequently sucked me into another place to live with mythical creatures, I have had moments that seemed too impossible to believe. Much like we do, Eustace tried to ignore said circumstances with the hope that they would change but much like in our world, they didn’t…

As the story goes along, Eustace becomes a real pain in the pootie because his situation isn’t as he sees fit. He thinks he deserves far better than his current circumstance and he doesn’t appreciate that the crew and Prince Caspian seem to love and regard his cousins very much because he knows they are beneath him. Have you ever met someone who has been a misery simply because life isn’t going the way they planned? Or they felt that life owed them some station that it wasn’t providing? Have you ever been that misery? I know I have.

So, what about that dragon? Well, this is one of my favorite parts of his story because it’s the part with which I can best relate. The crew ends up on an island that has a lot of questionable things… golden treasure, skeletons, strange roaring sounds and an uncomfortable amount of fire coming from things unknown. Eustace, in true Eustace fashion, wanders off and eventually comes across a dragon’s treasure. The movie and book portray this moment slightly different but essentially, Eustace has “greedy, dragonish thoughts” which are physically mirrored in the gold bracelet he has claimed and slipped on his arm. These nasty thoughts turn Eustace into a dragon…. a reflection of his heart on the outside and it is this very dragon that Caspian and the others hear as they return to the safety of the ship thinking Eustace has been lost forever. At first, his new appearance alarms everyone until they realize that it is, in fact, Eustace but they don’t know how to help him. He is stuck in his scales and his leg is hurt by the bracelet BUT his spirits seem to lift as he becomes useful in their continued adventures. In fact, one could argue that Eustace made a better dragon than boy. No longer the moody and bitter person who entered Narnia, he is able to find purpose in his trial and even becomes good friends with Reepicheep who took pity on his situation.

Luckily, as with all who are called to Narnia, Eustace eventually meets Aslan as he is trying to remove the scales himself. Have you ever gotten yourself in a situation that seemed hopeless because you couldn’t fix it no matter how you tried? Well, that is where Eustace is and just like the Lord, Aslan, of course, has the answer to his struggle but as is often the case with my self-imposed problems, the consequence is uncomfortable. Aslan tears away the scales to reveal the boy beneath as only he could just as the Lord is needed for true transformation. We just can’t do it on our own because sometimes our brokenness can only be healed by a master Creator.

So, does Eustace become a model citizen?

“It would be nice and fairly nearly true, to say that 'from that time forth, Eustace was a different boy.' To be strictly accurate, he began to be a different boy. He had relapses. There were still many days when he could be very tiresome. But most of those I shall not notice. The cure had begun.” (The Voyage of the Dawn Treader)

Like, all of us who meet the Lord, the change isn’t instantaneous. We still make mistakes and fall short time and again but just like in Narnia, we are given endless grace and forgiveness. Eustace goes on to be a hero of Narnia just like his cousins and he too, is able to inherit Aslan’s Kingdom. Aslan knew who Eustace was destined to become long before he was worthy of it and the Lord too, has a plan and purpose for you if you will only trust Him and let go. Remember, it is often the dragons we battle from within that will be our biggest challenge. Don’t face them alone.


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