Title: Puzzle the Donkey
Age: Unknown, though Jill describes him as old
Species: Talking Donkey
Home: Near the great waterfall, west of Lantern Waste
Physical Description: He has a soft gray coat and silvery-gray feet
Tools: A lion's skin
First Appearance: The Last Battle, Ch. 1 (1956)
~ The Last Battle ~ (1956)Shift the Ape are friends in name, but Puzzle is really more like Shift's personal slave. One day while walking by the Cauldron Pool, Shift spots a yellow thing caught under the waterfall and makes Puzzle jump in to retrieve it. After Puzzle drags it out of the pool, they discover it is a lion's skin. Shift sews it up and makes Puzzle wear it, parading him around as Aslan returned to Narnia. Though Puzzle believes this is wrong, Shift manages to outwit him and convince him that it is what the true Aslan wants. Puzzle, as usual, gets the unpleasant part of the arrangement. While Shift is pretending to be the "mouth of Aslan," Puzzle is shut up in the stable and only allowed to come out at night for a very short time so that the Narnians can see him. He unhappily remains there until Jill Pole sneaks into the stable, discovers him, and steals him away. Puzzle realizes the gravity of what he has done when Jill brings him to Tirian, Eustace, and Jewel. Later Puzzle meets a band of dwarfs who refuse to believe in Aslan ever again after seeing Puzzle in the misfitting lion's skin. Tirian decides to show Puzzle, complete with lion's skin, to the Narnians to prove to them that Shift has been lying. But when they approach the stable, they hear Shift declaring that it was all Puzzle's fault and that Puzzle was the deceiver who had lied to the Narnians. After hearing this, Jill cuts the lion's skin off Puzzle. During the ensuing battle, Puzzle goes missing and is not seen again until they are in Aslan's country running "further up and further in." Puzzle is terrified at the prospect of meeting the true Aslan. When he does meet the great Lion, his ears droop, but then perk up again. No one hears what Aslan says to Puzzle, for no one is ever told any story but his own.
Puzzle is a naive, trusting, rather clueless character who is easily taken advantage of by his unscrupulous companion Shift. Though he has a basic sense of right and wrong, clever arguments and forceful personalities can convince him to act against his principles. His extreme humility leads him to believe that others always know better than he does, and he submits to their judgment rather than trust his own. Though simple, Puzzle is an endearing character and Jill finds it impossible to be angry with him despite his foolishness. Aslan forgives Puzzle for his part in the deception of the Narnians, and Puzzle joins the others in Aslan's country at the end.
It is possible that Lewis used A. A. Milne's character Eeyore (from the Winnie-the-Pooh series) as the model for Puzzle.
- "I never meant anything of the sort, Shift, really I didn't. You known how stupid I am and how I can't think of more than one thing at a time. I'd forgotten about your weak chest. Of course I'll go in. You mustn't think of doing it yourself. Promise me you won't, Shift." (LB, Ch. 1)
- "No, no, no. Don't say such dreadful things. It would be wrong, Shift. I may be not very clever but I know that much. What would become of us if the real Aslan turned up?" (LB, Ch. 1)
- "I'm sure I'm very sorry if I've done wrong. The Ape said Aslan wanted me to dress up like that. And I thought he'd know. I'm not clever like him. I only did what I was told. It wasn't any fun for me living in that stable. I don't even know what's been going on outside. He never let me out except for a minute or two at night. Some days they forgot to give me any water too." (LB, Ch. 6)
- "But what I'll do if I really have to meet Aslan, I'm sure I don't know." (LB, Ch. 15)
- Andrew Sachs: Focus on the Family Radio Theater, 1999 – 2002
- Timothy Spall: BBC Radio Tales of Narnia