In The Natural History of Make-Believe, John Goldthwaite has a lot to say about the Chronicles of Narnia, very little of it good. One thing he mentions is the “summary damnation of Susan,” which is indeed troublesome, although I have to wonder if Goldthwaite is overstating the case a bit. The bit in question comes at the end of Chapter 12 of The Last Battle. King Tirian asks why Susan is not present with her three siblings, and the following exchange occurs:
“My sister Susan,” answered Peter shortly and gravely, “is no longer a friend of Narnia.”
“Yes,” said Eustace, “and whenever you’ve tried to get her to come and talk about Narnia or do anything about Narnia, she says, ‘What wonderful memories you have! Fancy your still thinking about all those funny games we used to play when we were children.'”
“Oh, Susan!” said Jill. “She’s interested in nothing nowadays except nylons and lipsticks and invitations.”
Aslan later confirms that the other Pevensies and their parents died in a railway accident, and the new Narnia is essentially the afterlife. Some readers apparently think Susan was also on the train but DIDN’T go to Heaven/New Narnia when she died. Personally, I never read this into it. I always figured Susan was still alive and could potentially find redemption at some point. C.S. Lewis himself said something to that effect. That’s not to say that I agree with Lewis’ decision to make Susan “no longer a friend of Narnia.” It doesn’t make any sense, and I can’t say I disagree with Goldthwaite when he says, “It is preposterous to think that anyone would turn apostate who had visited another world and there actually met Christ in the flesh…Lewis would have us believe of this Mary Magdalene that she sloughed it all off shortly thereafter for some lipstick and a pair of nylons.” That said, I don’t think this theme was entirely original with Lewis. Although I can’t think of any examples offhand, there are other fantasies that have adults forgetting about the magical adventures they had as children. I don’t think it’s all that logical, since I think anyone who experienced real, honest-to-god magic in childhood would bloody well remember it, but it’s a useful trope for writers who want to make fairyland the exclusive province of children. And I think there is some symbolic meaning in it, because I constantly hear about parents who are totally unable to understand their children’s point of view, not to mention teenagers who blow off cartoons and video games as too childish. They don’t actively forget, but they push away, you know? Combine with this Lewis’ obsession with Matthew 18:3 (“And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.”), and it’s not too surprising he’d incorporate this idea into his Chronicles. I just think he took it too far, especially with her siblings just dismissing her and presumably putting her out of their minds entirely. Is that really a good example of Christian love? The Last Battle had a lot of problems, though.