The Golden Compass Page by Page
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
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
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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