Chronicles of Narnia: The Magician's Nephew Overview
Polly Plummer-young girl who befriends Digory Kirke. She is the first person in the book to leave our world. She travels with Digory to Charn and tells him not to ring the bell.
Digory Kirke-Boy who moves in near Polly Plummer. He is the eponymous "magician's nephew," since Andrew Ketterley is his uncle. He is the one who rings the bell to awaken Jadis. He and Polly travel to the Wood between the Worlds, Charn, and Narnia. He also becomes the professor in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.
Andrew Ketterley- A "magician" and Digory's uncle. He makes the rings that transport Polly and Digory out of our world.
Jadis- Queen of Charn. She becomes the White Witch of Narnia in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. She is also an extremely talented witch with no conscience.
Aslan- The creator of Narnia, also called The Great Lion. He is a talking beast and is the son of the Emperor Across the Sea. It is his song that creates Narnia and the beasts that inhabit it.
The story begins in about the late 19th century. Digory moves near Polly's house in a set of adjacent terraced houses with his uncle and aunt (brother and sister to his mother). Digory's mother is very ill and near death and his father is in India. Initially he is upset about moving to London but becomes fast friends with Polly and they start to have adventures.
On one of their adventures to sneak through the attic of their building into an abandoned house in the building, they miscalculate their location and end up in Uncle Andrew's attic laboratory. It is there that he tricks Polly into putting on one of the yellow rings that he has made. When she puts on the yellow ring she disappears. Uncle Andrew then forces Digory to follow her with his own magic ring as well as 2 green rings which are for the return trip.
Digory puts on his ring and finds himself and Polly in the "Wood between the Worlds" which has a calming effect on them both. They discover that the world is full of pools and these pools are pathways to other universes. The first alternate universe that they discover is called Charn. It is a very old and desolate place and they find no one living there. They find a bell inscribed with the words:
"Make your choice, adventurous stranger
Strike the bell and bide the danger
Or wonder, till it drives you mad
What would have followed if you had"
Polly tells him he should not ring it and tries to block him, but Digory rings the bell anyway. This causes the Empress Jadis to awaken. She reveals that she is the reason why Charn has no inhabitants, as she has spoken the "deplorable word" which caused everyone in that world to die except her. She demands that the kids take her back to their own world where she can rule it as queen. They are almost able to lose her in the wood between the worlds but are unable to do so.
On earth Jadis meets Uncle Andrew and makes him her slave. She causes quite quick bit of destruction including robbing a jewelry store and crashing a hansom cab. At that point Digory and Polly are able to transport Jadis, Uncle Andrew, the cabby, and the horse out of our world and into the woods. They go into a different pool and transport out and find themselves in total darkness.
It is here they witness the creation of Narnia and the creatures that inhabit it by Aslan. Some of the animals are made into talking animals. Jadis tries to attack Aslan with the lamppost, but it bounces right off of him and she runs away. This is the same lamp that Lucy Pevensie encounters in her trip to Narnia.
Aslan tells Digory that since he brought Jadis into Narnia, he must protect Narnia from her by retrieving a magic apple. He reaches the garden with the help of Polly and Strawberry (the hansom horse whom Aslan made a talking, flying horse). On the gate around the apple he finds the following incription:
"Come in my gold gates or not at all
Take of my fruit for others or forbear
For those who steal or those who climb my wall
Shall find their heart's desire and find despair"
Inside the garden Digory finds Jadis who tries to convince him to take one of the apples back to his mother so she will not die. Digory eventually does as Aslan says and is rewarded with one of the apples from the tree that grows from the apple he brings back. This magic apple can heal his mother.
Digory's apple fully restores his mother's health. Digory buries the seeds and the magic rings in his back yard, from which an apple tree grows. Years later he has wood from this tree made into the wardrobe through which the Pevensies travel to Narnia.