The Golden Compass

by

Philip Pullman

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Ma Costa Character Analysis

Billy and Tony Costa's mother. She's a large and imposing woman known for both walloping naughty children and giving them sweets. Lyra has a healthy fear of Ma Costa—the summer before the novel begins, she tried to steal Ma Costa's narrow boat. Ma Costa, however, doesn't hold grudges; she's happy to house and conceal Lyra after Lyra escapes from Mrs. Coulter. Lyra later learns that this is because Ma Costa nursed her as an infant.

Ma Costa Quotes in The Golden Compass

The The Golden Compass quotes below are all either spoken by Ma Costa or refer to Ma Costa. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Childhood, Innocence, and Maturation Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Random House edition of The Golden Compass published in 1995.
Chapter Three Quotes

Lyra was frightened. No one worried about a child gone missing for a few hours, certainly not a gyptian: in the tight-knit gyptian boat world, all children were precious and extravagantly loved, and a mother knew that if a child was out of sight, it wouldn't be far from someone else's who would protect it instinctively.

Related Characters: Lyra, Ma Costa, The Gobblers, Billy Costa
Page Number: 55
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter Seven Quotes

Indeed, Tony heard from gossip in pubs along the way that the police were making raids on houses and farms and building yards and factories without any explanation, though there was a rumor that they were searching for a missing girl. And that in itself was odd, considering all the kids that had gone missing without being looked for.

Related Characters: Lyra, Ma Costa, Tony Costa
Page Number: 110
Explanation and Analysis:
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Ma Costa Character Timeline in The Golden Compass

The timeline below shows where the character Ma Costa appears in The Golden Compass. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter Three
Childhood, Innocence, and Maturation Theme Icon
Humanity, Identity, and the Soul Theme Icon
Religion, Politics, and Control Theme Icon
Truth, Lies, and Morality Theme Icon
...the river with her friends Hugh and Simon (Roger is busy with chores), she hears Ma Costa , a grand gyptian woman, yelling at a horse trader. Lyra is nervous—Ma Costa is... (full context)
Childhood, Innocence, and Maturation Theme Icon
Religion, Politics, and Control Theme Icon
Truth, Lies, and Morality Theme Icon
Ma Costa stumbles away, yelling for Billy, and the children discuss what the Gobblers actually are. One... (full context)
Chapter Six
Humanity, Identity, and the Soul Theme Icon
...dæmons fade and drift away. They slip onto the narrowboat and into the cabin, and Ma Costa unquestioningly grabs Lyra in a huge hug. She shushes Lyra, heats up milk, and puts... (full context)
Childhood, Innocence, and Maturation Theme Icon
Truth, Lies, and Morality Theme Icon
...up in the morning, checks that she still has the alethiometer, and enters the kitchen. Ma Costa enters from the deck and starts to make Lyra breakfast, refusing to answer questions and... (full context)
Chapter Seven
Childhood, Innocence, and Maturation Theme Icon
Religion, Politics, and Control Theme Icon
Truth, Lies, and Morality Theme Icon
...other missing children. Because of this, Lyra must stay below when they pass inhabited areas. Ma Costa even hides Lyra in a secret compartment while police search their boat. Despite these setbacks,... (full context)
Childhood, Innocence, and Maturation Theme Icon
Humanity, Identity, and the Soul Theme Icon
...to the gyptian legends and picks up words in the Fen-Dutch gyptian dialect. One afternoon, Ma Costa reminds Lyra that she's not actually gyptian: she's made of fire, while gyptians are water... (full context)
Religion, Politics, and Control Theme Icon
Truth, Lies, and Morality Theme Icon
As Tony and Ma Costa lead Lyra to the Zaal, people stare and point. They enter the craggy old hall... (full context)
Childhood, Innocence, and Maturation Theme Icon
Humanity, Identity, and the Soul Theme Icon
Truth, Lies, and Morality Theme Icon
...families to raise a tax and to return in three days. After he dismisses everyone, Ma Costa points out who the other men on the platform are and specifically mentions Farder Coram,... (full context)
Truth, Lies, and Morality Theme Icon
...shy. She asks which gyptian women nursed her, and John Faa says that it was Ma Costa . They send her back outside where Ma Costa hugs Lyra, kisses her, and takes... (full context)
Chapter Eight
Childhood, Innocence, and Maturation Theme Icon
Humanity, Identity, and the Soul Theme Icon
Truth, Lies, and Morality Theme Icon
...and either covers her blond hair or hides when she hears them. Lyra also asks Ma Costa questions about her babyhood until she creates a vivid, questionably truthful memory of what happened... (full context)
Chapter Twenty
Childhood, Innocence, and Maturation Theme Icon
Truth, Lies, and Morality Theme Icon
Lyra looks up at the sky and longs for the witches or Ma Costa to sweep her away to safety and warmth. She cries from fear as the smiths... (full context)