The Golden Compass Page by Page
Chapter 15 - The Dæmon Cages
I remember having hiding places and escape paths lined planned each and
every school I went to should I need to “escape” for
whatever reason. I even went as far as to draw up maps of the buildings
with all the hidden hallways and rooms of the school when I was in fifth
I also remember the excitement of fire drills. Fire drills are in
theory supposed to be practice for how to leave the building in an
orderly manner if there was a fire, but actually what it does is to
condition you into thinking “sigh, another fire drill” as
soon as the bell rings to keep you calm, whether or not there’s
an actual emergency, which is actually even more effective than the
concept of “practicing for a fire”.
The kids whispering during lunch about what was happening to the kids
who were being taken away reminds me of being in school on September
11th, 2001, when kids were mysteriously being plucked out of classes
for dismissal and rumors were being whispered and passed in notes about
what was going on because nearly all the teachers and lunch aides were
obeying instructions to keep the unfolding terrorist attack a secret
and to forbid discussion of it.
The man in the canteen calls the exercise a “practice fire
drill”, so does that mean to say they’re practicing for an
ACTUAL fire drill to be held at a later date? How inefficient.
Lyra’s being tested for Dust by the "doctor" reminds me of how I’d feel as a small child
whenever I’d be taken to a preternaturally sterile hospital where
I could expect to get a painful shot or have my ears looked at with an
otoscope (which was worse than the shot) or fed bad tasting medicine,
all while clutching my worn out teddy bear (that I’m using as a
pillow a I type this) much like a kid in Lyra’s world would be
cuddling their dæmon.
Luckily that phase didn’t last long for me, I could take shots
well by the time I was six and I realized out that doctors (at least
the ones my parents brought me to) were there to make me healthy and
not just poke and prod at me.
I’d never in a million years have the guts to asking an
outrageously risky question like “why do you cut kids
dæmons away?”, I’d be frightened enough as it was NOT
knowing what was going on, let alone being the only kid in the station
to know how bad it was.
The fire drill in Bolvangar becoming an impromptu outdoor recess
session is also similar to my memories of school. Especially on warm
sunny days, and if the “emergency” lasted a while we could
all be out there on the grass for an hour or more sneaking away from
our assigned groups to meet up with other friends and sneaking back
before the teachers noticed.
For some reason my image of the building with the dæmon cages
directly contradicts what’s described in the text. Something made
me want to imagine rows upon rows of cages stacked high like those
private libraries where there’s a ladder on a rail that slides
around so you can reach the higher books, which is even worse than
what’s in the book since that means a lot more severed
dæmons, and totally impractical since Lyra is said to unlock all
the cages in under a minute.
I listened to the audiobook version of this chapter with my Mom, and
she actually had to have me pause the recording for a while because the
description of the severed dæmons was so upsetting that she
needed a minute to gather herself before she could listen any more.
To submit feedback, please use the site guestbook
or email the author at,
This work is the intellectual property of Super Train Station H and is protected under US Copyright.
Works discussed by other authors are the property of their respective copyright holders.
Back to STSH - The Golden Compass Page by Page