Evil Makes for Better Stories

We were still on our street on the way to drop-off this morning when Lily asked me a question about the white witch of *Narnia*. (I should note that Yung has been reading *Narnia* to Lily. I’m ambivalent about it. I haven’t read the books, but there is, from what I can tell from my glimpses of the film, some fairly lofty topics raised in the novel as well as some violent moments.)

Why does Jades do bad things, Daddy?

Does Jades scare you?

No, she replied.

Do you want to know why she does bad things?

Yes.

And so I tried to explain that Jades is a character in a story. She’s not real. She’s pretend. And because she isn’t real, there’s no way to know why she does what she does unless the story tells us. I was beginning to wind up a long exegesis on the subject, remembering all the times I had tried to communicate the same idea to my undergraduates, when Lily interrupted me to say: “She does bad things to make the story more interesting.”

Well, yes.