The Golden Compass

by

Philip Pullman

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The Golden Compass: Chapter Fourteen Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
The expedition stops to fill Lee Scoresby's balloon, but then a mist descends. Suddenly, men start to fall as arrows strike them. Pan knocks Lyra to the ground and Iorek leaps at their attackers. A man hauls Lyra to her feet, ties her up, and throws her onto a sledge. She screams for Iorek, but her captor covers her mouth with a dirty cloth. Pan says that their captors look like Tartars. Lyra knows that these people are taking them to the Gobblers, and she and Pan assure each other that they'll fight to stay together.
The way that Pan and Lyra comfort each other offers insight into what the novel suggests is one of the perks of having a soul: a person is never alone and always has someone on their side. Tony Makarios was so lost in part because, for the first time in his life, he was entirely alone. With this, the novel suggests that one's inner voice, as represented by the dæmons, is absolutely necessary to live.
Themes
Humanity, Identity, and the Soul Theme Icon
After riding in the sledge for hours, Lyra's captor lets her sit and asks for her name. Realizing that he doesn't know who she is, Lyra says her name is Lizzie and that the gyptians she was with are traders. She wonders if John Faa will be able to rescue her. Carefully, she hides the spy-fly tin in her boot and checks that she still has the alethiometer. Lyra falls asleep and wakes up when she realizes that there are bright lights above her. The sledge halts outside of a building and a man who looks like he could be from Jordan comes outside. The man asks Lyra if Pan always takes the same shape. She gapes in surprise, and Pan turns into a falcon and pesters the man's dæmon. Satisfied, the man pays Lyra's captors and leads her inside.
It's telling that Lyra loses any capacity to consider the situation and lie when the man asks if Pan can change shape. She might not know it now, but it's possible that lying here would keep her safe, because if Pan had already settled, he and Lyra would be past the point of interest for the Oblation Board. This indicates that this is entirely new territory for Lyra, and shows that she's going to have to become more adaptable going forward if she wants to be able to use her lies to protect herself.
Themes
Humanity, Identity, and the Soul Theme Icon
Religion, Politics, and Control Theme Icon
Truth, Lies, and Morality Theme Icon
Lyra decides to pretend that she's unintelligent. Inside, it looks like a hospital. The man asks a nurse named Sister Clara to deal with Lyra. Sister Clara leads Lyra down a hallway, and she seems blank and sensible. Her white terrier dæmon, however, chills Lyra for some reason. They enter a small room where Lyra nervously undresses and Sister Clara herself unties the belt containing the alethiometer. She thinks it's a toy and assures Lyra that they won't take it away. Lyra showers, submits to an exam, and receives pajamas. Sister Clara brushes off Lyra's questions but gives her the alethiometer and asks her to pick a doll from a drawer. While Sister Clara is occupied, Lyra sneaks the spy-fly tin out of her boot.
Given what the reader and Lyra know about intercision and what happens at Bolvanger, the doll may be an attempt to wean children away from their dæmons before undergoing the procedure. Remember, however, that even Iorek knew that replacing a dæmon (or a soul in general) with a facsimile like this was a futile endeavor. Interestingly, Sister Clara blank dæmon looks somewhat like a doll too given its lack of curiosity, which suggests that they may have undergone intercision.
Themes
Humanity, Identity, and the Soul Theme Icon
Sister Clara leads Lyra to the cafeteria and a man gives her a tray with food. When she's done eating, the man asks Lyra where she came from. His dæmon isn't as incurious as Sister Clara's, so Lyra avoids her gaze. Lyra tells him that she came north with her father, a trader, and says that the huntsmen who brought her here shot at her father's group. The man tells Lyra that this memory is just a trick of the cold. Exhausted, Lyra falls asleep in the dormitory.
The way that the man speaks to Lyra and tries to tell her that she doesn't actually remember what happened reminds the reader again that children in general are vulnerable, while the ones at Bolvanger are even more so: a less alert child than Lyra might buy this if they felt that adults were generally trustworthy.
Themes
Childhood, Innocence, and Maturation Theme Icon
Religion, Politics, and Control Theme Icon
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Many girls shake Lyra awake and whisper. One says that they gave Lyra sleeping pills. The girls can't tell Lyra definitively what the adults do here, though one says that they measure Dust. Eventually, they take kids away one by one and they don't come back. The girls say it's boring except for when Mrs. Coulter comes. Lyra chokes back a shriek and the girls explain that Mrs. Coulter is the Gobbler who trapped most of them. She apparently likes watching what happens when the adults take kids away. One girl says that they measure dæmons and Dust. No Dust is good, but everyone gets Dust at some point. The girls say that Mrs. Coulter is coming in two days. Lyra decides that she has to find Roger and escape.
The way that the girls talk about what happens at Bolvanger shows again how vulnerable the children are. They do have the right idea about what happens, but being children, it's easy for the adults to keep information from them that would allow the children to effectively fight back against what happens here. The reappearance of Mrs. Coulter is a reminder that the Magisterium is everywhere and can seemingly control everything, no matter how remote a place might be.
Themes
Childhood, Innocence, and Maturation Theme Icon
Religion, Politics, and Control Theme Icon
Truth, Lies, and Morality Theme Icon