Why Nikabrik Went Sour

Prince Caspian introduced us to another interesting study of character, that of Nikabrik the black dwarf. We first meet him inside the home of Trufflehunter, wanting to kill Caspian the Tenth against the wishes of the badger and Trumpkin. Nikabrik is angry at all Telmarines, bitterly remembering the injustices suffered by the old Narnians in their hands. In his defense, Nikabrik was born in hiding, grew in hiding and lived in hiding throughout his life, which must have been very difficult for any independent, freedom-loving dwarf.

Nikabrik’s heart is full of hatred from the start. His gut reaction is always to kill those whom he perceives as his enemies. When he first sees the unconscious Caspian, his first instinct was to attack the hapless Telmarine. “I’m certainly not going to let it go alive,” he tells Trufflehunter and Trumpkin. When he first sees Dr. Cornelius, Caspian’s half-dwarf tutor who played a vital role in the story, he wanted to kill him too. Pah! A renegade dwarf. A half-and-halfer! Shall I pass my sword through its throat?” Notice the pronoun that he uses when referring to Caspian and Dr. Cornelius – it or its instead of him or his (“I’m certainly not going to let IT go alive.” “Shall I pass my sword through ITS throat?”). This shows that Nikabrik objectifies his enemies, without bothering to know who the person really is.

At that time, hundreds of years have passed without hearing anything from Aslan, and it was natural for the Narnians to feel abandoned by the Great Lion. One interesting thing about Nikabrik though was that he actually believed in the existence of Aslan. He just did not have faith in his goodness and wisdom and strength. “Aslan and the kings go together. Either Aslan is dead, or he is not on our side,” he told the others. “Or else something stronger than himself keeps him back. And if he did come – how do we know he’d be our friend?”

“Nikabrik lost hope,” said Trumpkin in the movie. But it’s not so much as losing hope, but not having any hopes in Aslan in the first place. “I’ll believe in anyone or anything that’ll batter these cursed Telmarine barbarians to pieces or drive them out of Narnia,” said Nikabrik in the book. “Anyone or anything, Aslan or the White Witch, do you understand?” He didn’t care how they will defeat the Telmarines; the end justifies the means after all.

In the end, Nikabrik invited his two friends, the hag and the werewolf, to use black sorcery and call up the White Witch. We know how that ends – he was killed in the fight that ensued in the dark. In the book, nobody knows who actually killed him. “I am sorry for Nikabrik, though he hated me from the first moment he saw me,” said Caspian. “He had gone sour inside from long suffering and hating. If we had won quickly he might have become a good dwarf in the days of peace.”

It’s a sad, sad life to only have hatred and have no hope in your heart. It’s even sadder if who you are or who you become is dependent on how your life is going. It would be a happier, more fulfilling life to instead believe that no matter what happens, “God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love Him” (Romans 8:28). Then we need not become good dwarfs only in the days of peace.

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