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Chapter 14 - Bolvangar Lights

At one side a stout metal mast had a familiar look, though she couldn’t say what it reminded her of. (HDM 1, ch. 14, pg. 207, para.1)

I’ve read some very amusing speculation that the “stout metal mast” is intended to be the light post in the Lantern Woods from The Chronicles of Narnia, and that Pullman is trying to say that both Narnia and Bolvangar are places where children are mutilated to prevent them from growing up properly.

Even though Pullman probably thinks exactly that, the mast is the mooring mast by which Mrs. Coulter’s zeppelin arrives. Why exactly would the Gobblers go through the trouble of bringing the kids to Trollesund by ship and then taking them by dog sled through the arctic wilderness to Bolvangar? Wouldn’t it be easier to take the kids by zeppelin?

This chapter and the remainder of Part 2 is probably my favorite section of the book, and possibly the entire trilogy.

It makes me think of when I was seven and eight years old when I was sent to a university hospital several times and had to sit through hours of boring tests because my elementary school teacher was convinced that something was “wrong” with me (the tests actually found that I was years ahead of my class in most aspects, though they still wanted to drug me up to help me be “normal”).

This chapter reminded me how resentful and angry I would feel when adults would force me to submit to bold faced lies, to admit guilt to things I’d never done, or to be called a liar when I know I’m telling the truth.

From a young age I had what may have been an unusually developed fear of being kidnapped and being forced to work or having cruel things done to me, which in hindsight I probably absorbed from the Disney animated film adaptation of Pinocchio and learning about the history slavery in America.

It also makes me think of the “Sonic the Hedgehog” cartoon where Sonic and the Freedom Fighters would go into missions to sabotage Dr. Robotnik’s city of Robotropolis and destroy the “Robotocisor”, a machine which he used to enslave people by transforming them into robots. I loved that cartoon, and like the intercision machine, the robotocisor is also very symbolic of the effects tyranny and more obviously human experimentation.

Maybe I’ll get into that more later.

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