Mark Reads ‘The Amber Spyglass’: Chapter 4

In the fourth chapter of The Amber Spyglass, local villager Ama discovers a way to help Mrs. Coulter wake up her daughter, but soon discovers that Mrs. Coulter is not who she says she is. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read The Amber Spyglass.

CHAPTER FOUR: AMA AND THE BATS

God, Mrs. Coulter confuses me so much.

It’s interesting to think about how bizarre of an experience Lyra has had with both of her parents and how difficult it is to pinpoint either of them in terms of morals or motivations. Lyra’s had to make her own family, assembled with gyptians and a bear-king and a witch and a boy from a parallel world named Will. Her father betrayed her trust and murdered her best friend in order to start a war with God. (Again, will never tire of typing that sentence.) Her mother also betrayed her trust and is responsible for the deaths of hundreds of children in an effort to eliminate the occurrence of sin as children entered adulthood. We initially believed both to be entirely evil in terms of their own morality, but it seems that Lord Asriel is actually in the pursuit of something moral, and now Mrs. Coulter seems to be avoiding the organization she devoted her life towards using in order to forward destructive and oppressive terrors on the entire world. So is Mrs. Coulter actually doing something beneficial by keeping Lyra asleep and hidden from the Magisterium? Or is Mrs. Coulter planning to do something even more horrifying with her?

I haven’t quite figured this out, but chapter four still solidifies just how slimy, manipulative, and terrifying Mrs. Coulter is as a character, so much so that I wonder if she’ll ever be able to redeem herself in my eyes. What’s so frightening to her is that she uses kindness and charity specifically for malevolent ends, that her polite attitude and congenial nature is never for the sake of it. It always serves some other purpose.

Ama is the main focus of this chapter, and the tone of this bit of story starts off even more hopeful than usual, a great way for Pullman to convey the childlike wonder that Ama displays as she sets out to find a way to help the wonderful and beautiful Mrs. Coulter and her stunning daughter. Mrs. Coulter absolutely uses this to her advantage, and THAT MAKES ME SO ANGRY. Ama just wants to help! It’s not hard for me to imagine myself in that young girl’s shoes. I was (and still am, to this day) the kind of person who will go out of my way to help someone, generally without anything in return. It is this sort of unasked kindness that motivates Ama to make the long trek to the local healer’s residence with a singular goal in mind: acquire something, anything, that she could give to the beautiful woman in the cave to help her daughter.

We are introduced to Pagdzin tulku, the great “healer” that Ama visits, and also the first person whose dæmon is a bat. (He lives in a cave. It totally makes sense!) Desperate to acquire anything to help, she asks the old man first for instructions on how to concoct the potion, but soon settling for the medicine itself devoid of the wisdom of how to make it. The bat dæmon does a strange thing when Ama declines the opportunity for Pagdzin to actually see the alleged “boy” who has some strange sleeping sickness. I didn’t understand it at first, but it soon became clear that the bat was reacting to what Ama had said. Pagdzin tulku hands over a medicine, but not before chastising Ama for not telling all of the truth. My guess? The man’s dæmon could tell Ama was lying about who was sick. What I want to know is why he decided to hand over the medicine anyway. Hmmm.

Returning back to Mrs. Coulter’s cave hours later, Ama (BLESS HER) is so excited to help out that when she finds no one is there except for Lyra, she actually considers waking Lyra herself. HOW EXCITING/TERRIFYING WOULD THAT HAVE BEEN? Unfortunately, Ama does not learn about the truth in this manner. Instead, she is forced to hide when Mrs. Coulter and her monkey dæmon return to the cave.

It’s interesting to me that we have yet another young person, this time Ama, discovering that not only can adults lie to them, but they can absolutely betray them. For a young adult series, this is a message that is extremely powerful and, to be honest, was not one I encountered until much later in my life. I was brought up to believe that all adults, and most especially my parents, where infallible. I suppose I’d never openly touched on it before in any of my reviews, but a lot of what His Dark Materials is about concerns the fact that adults lie to children all of the time, and that this lying is not always harmless instances of protection. As Ama watches Lyra wake up and Mrs. Coulter express the exact opposite emotion as she should, she is shocked and horrified. Lyra begins to loudly protest Mrs. Coulter’s presence and the woman’s dæmon pounces on Pantalaimon, who changes shape more rapidly than Ama has ever seen from a dæmon.

But it’s the moment when Pantalaimon becomes a porcupine (GO PAN GO!), causing Mrs. Coulter to viciously slap her own daughter.

God, it crushes me now to read this because Pullman takes us right into the moment of Ama experiencing a jarring loss of innocence before her eyes. This woman lied to her, and she was going to be nice and help her! Not only that, but she is purposely harming her own daughter and keeping her asleep! What kind of mother does that? What kind of mother cuts a lock of her own daughters hair and saves it in a locket around her neck? What kind of mother allows her dæmon to RIP APART A BAT SLOWLY UNTIL IT DIES??? (JESUS GODDAMN CHRIST, TAKE THE WHEEL.)

This is a brief chapter, but still an important one. It’s painful and saddening to read of Ama’s heartbreak and fury at Mrs. Coulter, something hundreds of kids must have went through at Bolvangar when they found out why they were taken from their homes. However, Ama has escaped undetected, and Mrs. Coulter does not have the advantage on this one. Ama is the one with the medicine that can bring Lyra back to the waking world, and Ama is a young girl scorned for the first time. Despite being consumed by fear at the thought, Ama knows what she needs to do:
She needs to wake up Lyra.

I LOVE THIS SERIES FOREVER

——————

Remember, visit BridgeToTheStars.net to discuss this week’s posts in a spoiler-happy environment!

About Mark Reads

Vegan cyclist, Internet community nerd, atheist bookworm, high-five purveyor.
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98 Responses to Mark Reads ‘The Amber Spyglass’: Chapter 4

  1. Emma says:

    The bat bit creeped me out SO MUCH. The way he just rips its wings off oh-so casually, like he's just bored.
    Ugh, I don't know why that gets to me so much, but it does… *shiver*

    • FlameRaven says:

      Ugh, I know. I HATE THAT MONKEY. Bats are awesome and adorable. No one should be ripping them apart. D:

  2. enigmaticagentscully says:

    One thing I find really interesting in this series is the idea of Mrs Coulter's sheer beauty being used as a kind of manipulative force. It's sort of strange – we know she's an attractive woman, but everyone around her seems to become almost bewitched by her, and not necessarily in a sexual way. The children she took to Bolvanger willingly followed her because she was charming and beautiful, and Ama also gains a kind of romanticized view of the beautiful, kind mother caring for her daughter.
    It seems very odd that Mrs Coulter is able to affect people so strongly just by her physical presence, and it seems to come up quite often. I feel like Pullman is trying to make some kind of point here, but I'm not sure what exactly? I mean, just how beautiful could she possibly be?

    • frogANDsquid says:

      I always thought about that. Her beauty is always such a powerful force and i wonder if its just suppossed to be an extension of her manipulative ways – like a phsyical depiction of it – or if her beauty is meant to represent something bigger. I could list a bunch of theories but they are probably all reading too much into things.

    • monkeybutter says:

      Beautiful enough, and very confident in her beauty as well. Haven't multiple studies shown that attractive people are more successful, more trusted, and happier? Pullman might be commenting on the power of beauty.

    • Partes says:

      It's more like she's enchanting than just merely beautiful. Everything about her – from the soft, caring personality she puts on to her ethereal beauty – fits into the idealised view that many have that confidence + plus sweetness = good (although only in attractive people). Mrs Coulter realized this and uses it to her advantage masterfully. How many people do you know who have put up with scum because they want to feel like the person they're dealing with is good?

      I think she's just really, really good at projecting that kind of persona.

    • Emma says:

      She's part veela, or at least that's my theory.

      • Darth_Ember says:

        Pullman himself declared "I was wrong, she's a blonde." Clearly this is just a front for 'silvery-blonde,' and she is indeed Veela! …Oh man, I can't wait to see her turn into a big ugly harpy-like monster. That would be awesome.

        • Partes says:

          'Oh man, I can't wait to see her turn into a big ugly harpy-like monster.'

          I think it says a lot about Mrs Coulter that I can picture this as being totally in character for her.

    • miriamdelirium says:

      I think perhaps it's also a point of a prejudice, in that, most of the time, parents pull their children away from people who look like they don't belong, like people who are dressed oddly, or push a shopping cart and walk barefoot around town. Most adults, by way of their own prejudices, teach their children that these are the people who are dangerous to them, that they can tell from the way a person looks that he or she is dangerous. Mrs Coulter is the exact opposite of that idea; she's charming and beautiful, and comes across as sweet as saccharin when she wants to. Most children aren't taught to be wary of upstanding community members. I think the point is that anyone can be dangerous, and many times it's the person whom we'd least suspect.

    • My guess is that it's the way babies and children need mothers and find beauty in the faces of those who take care of them — or ought to take care of them. The embodiment of need and the beauty of children's readiness to love.

  3. P__ says:

    In response to why the man gave Ama the medicine anyway, I imagine it was like Madame Pompfrey's situation; sure, you could demand the real reason the student has a dragon bite/turned into a cat/ect, ect, OR you could turn a blind eye, assume nothing too bad is going on, and let someone else handle the discipline. Hogwarts students totally have medical amnesty.

  4. Darth_Ember says:

    What kind of mother cuts a lock of her own daughters hair and saves it in a locket around her neck?
    Lots, actually, Mark. That's… kind of one of the things one does with a locket. They're generally used either for little pictures, or for a lock of hair. Or both.
    Mrs Coulter is creepy yada yada, but that's one of the few things she's done that actually wears the appearance of a reasonable gesture.

    That particular gesture is a rather old one, more often seen in genuinely loving characters. Keeping a lock of hair as a token is quite a common trope.

    • cait0716 says:

      Yeah, this gesture is odd more because it implies that Mrs Coulter actually does care for Lyra as a mother ought to care for her daughter. Maybe she's finally developing some motherly instincts? She's certainly a confusing character.

    • Brieana says:

      I was randomly reminded of Will and Grace. Molly Shannon's character kept Jack's bath water in a vile around her neck.

      • Lisa M says:

        LOL. Even though I knew exactly what you meant, keeping Jack's bath water is pretty vile.

    • Tilja says:

      Being a loving kind of gesture it creeps even more so coming from someone like Mrs Coulter. If she had done something hideous it'd be considered as part of who she is. When she does something completely loving is when you have to start worrying about her true hidden intentions. She's being both goodness and evil without any problem at all. You don't worry when someone shows who they are. It's when you can't tell who or what they are or what they can do that you fear them. Mrs Coulter is this fine example of being anything she wants without diminishing her powers.

    • xpanasonicyouthx says:

      I'M SORRY

      WHEN DID PEOPLE DO THIS IN A NON-CREEPY, NON-STALKERY WAY

      Y'ALL ARE BLOWING MY WORLDVIEW APART

      my god

      • Darth_Ember says:

        Here, have a Brooke Boothby sonnet – 'A Locket of Hair'.
        A news story about a locket of hair the poet Lord Byron sent to a childhood sweetheart.
        In the Victorian era, and even sometimes past that up to now, there have been lockets with a child's hair inside; sometimes the hair from the baby's very first haircut.
        Wikipedia explicitly mentions 'hair' as one of the possible contents of a locket, and A common superstition holds that a lock of hair from a baby's first haircut should be kept for good luck..
        It's featured in various novels, too.
        If I remember rightly, I read it in Little Women by Louisa May Alcott, the mother keeping locks of hair as keepsakes.

      • Tonja says:

        Parents have done this for probably centuries. A lock of hair along with the handprints/footprints of babies, perhaps their childs' first haircut. My mother stored all these kinds of things in a wood box, along with photo albums and other momentos.
        Lovers used to also exchange locks of hair. I believe Mina Harker gives Johnathan a lock of her hair before he leaves for Transylvania in Bram Stokers Dracula.

      • Nomie says:

        Victorians used to make jewelry out of hair! Especially mourning pieces for lost loved ones.

        [WORDPRESS HASHCASH] The poster sent us ’0 which is not a hashcash value.

        • knut_knut says:

          There’s a clock museum kind of nearby that I LOOOOOOOOOOVED going to and my favourite part was always the watches with wristbands made out of hair. Kind of creepy now that I think of it…

      • knut_knut says:

        lots of parents still save locks of baby hair (after their child's first hair cut or something)!

        • pennylane27 says:

          Mine do. And my teeth. It's creepy as hell. Not to mention kind of disgusting.

          • knut_knut says:

            my parents didn't keep my hair but they never threw out my tooth fairy teeth. It is REALLY CREEPY to be looking through boxes in the attic and all of a sudden coming across one filled with teeth O_O

      • drop_and_roll says:

        When they did it with the hair of someone they are close to, who also feels close to them, with the full knowledge and consent of the hair-giver (unless they're really really young, much younger than Lyra). In my opinion, it's only creepy and stalkery if, for example, somebody cuts off a piece of hair without the other person realising.

      • flootzavut says:

        In "Sense and Sensibility", Mr Wickham takes a lock of Marianne's hair, naq vg'f bar bs gur guvatf fur nfxf uvz gb erghea gb ure jura ur orgenlf ure. (rot-13'd for anyone who is going to read S&S "one day"! :) ) – that's Regency era.

        As others have said, it's still not uncommon for a lock of a baby's hair to be kept. "My baby's firsts…" type journal things usually have somewhere to stick in a lock of hair.

        On the other hand. it's often used as a trope ("I have some of your hair and so now I can enchant you/curse you etc") so it's got its squicky uses to in literature.

        • wahlee says:

          You mean Mr. Willoughby. Mr. Wickham is from Pride and Prejudice. :P

          • flootzavut says:

            That's what I get for posting at 1am!I knew there was something not right but it began with a W… d'oh! :$ Thanks :D

      • flootzavut says:

        Aalso, just like silhouettes, sketches, etc, it was a momento before there were cameras available. Having a picture of one's loved one was not as simple a task, and certainly a genuinely good likeness that could be carried around (say, a miniature) as we would carry a photo in a wallet would be too expensive/time consuiming for (I'm guessing) most people. To have a lock of hair to keep as a momento of one's beloved makes an awful lot of sense in that context.

        Particularly with lovers, in eras where couples were heavily chaperoned and simple physical contact, let alone kissing or anything more, was often prohibited, to have a lock of hair would have been an exceedingly intimate and romantic thing.

    • Billie says:

      My mum kept all of the hair she brushed from my dog for a really long time after he died. Uh. That is totally the same thing…

  5. Partes says:

    What kind of mother allows her dæmon to RIP APART A BAT SLOWLY UNTIL IT DIES???

    That was the start of a healing dance to keep Mrs Coulter's poison from accidentally killing Lyra. The poor Golden Monkey was sad that he must sacrifice another to help his human's daughter, but it is a sacrifice he must make. He is a true hero.

    Bet you feel guilty now. Pessimism is not the answer.

    That or he's an evil, creepy little deeeemon. Stress on the e. Ewwww.

  6. Ryan Lohner says:

    I love how proud Ama is of her idea to say it's a boy she wants the medicine for, such an honest kid moment.

  7. monkeybutter says:

    Mrs Coulter's desire to keep Lyra as a pet come to fruition. Blah. She truly is terrible, but in her own convoluted way, she thinks she's doing what's right (much like Lord Asriel in his quest for deicide) by poisoning Lyra or letting that creepy monkey tear apart bats. She's a really bad, really destructive, really controlling mother. Like Carrie's. Though I wonder if she's not getting an unfair portion of the blame and horrified reaction as a mom, because Lord Asriel is just as bad. He threatened to break Lyra's arm, impresses her through fear, and he abandoned her in the Arctic after killing her best friend. If only Lee was still around to adopt her. :(

    Tearing the bat apart limb from limb, with the concomitant crunching sounds, is much, much worse than Iorek's feast. At least that was sweet and had a reason.

    • cait0716 says:

      Lord Asriel is just as bad, but he hasn't really been in the story since the end of the first book. Mrs. Coulter is around a lot more, so we see what she's doing. Lord Asriel's just part of the background noise. I think that's why she gets so much more attention

      • monkeybutter says:

        I know, but even when he's around, there's an element of hero worship rather than instinctual disgust.

        • Darth_Ember says:

          Perhaps part of it is that we've been told actual good things he's done, but haven't been given any for her.
          I mean, fighting the laws to help the gyptians one could pass off as deciding they're more useful to get onside, but actually plunging into flood-waters to rescue a pair of gyptians and thereby save their lives is a little beyond the call of duty even for a master manipulator, given he risked his own life to do it.

          • monkeybutter says:

            That's a fair point. But Mrs Coulter has saved Lyra twice, first by claiming her as her daughter at Bolvangar, and then by kidnapping her to hide her from the Church. Her methods are completely screwed up, but she risked a lot of what she's worked towards by acknowledging her illegitimate child and not going along with the Church. I really don't want to sound like I'm defending her because she's awful, but with tiny exceptions, both she and Lord Asriel have an "ends justify the means" philosophy. Poison your daughter, wreak havoc on your world and all others, for whatever goals they think are right and just. I understand that Mrs Coulter appears worse because she's actively involved with the protagonist, but I think the distance from Lord Asriel allows us to gloss over his nastier moments.

            • tigerpetals says:

              Which is how it is seen in real life, where people think the father should be/is distant from raising children/what happens at the house and so the mother gets painted as worse than him for doing, well, anything.

              • Partes says:

                I really don't think that this is a fair analogy, or the point Pullman is trying to make with the differences between Asriel and Coulter. While he never outright states that the ends justifies the means, I feel like Asriel represents that sometimes bad people do good things. His war would be seen as a noble one if he ever bothered to paint it as such; certainly there has been more bloodshed over shakier ideological principles which has created martyrs. And while he was never a good father, he was a better 'parent' than Mrs Coulter just by intentionally removing himself from Lyra's life outside of his visits; this is unlike her mother, who, the second she becomes involved, becomes abusive in a much more damaging capacity than Lord Asriel's threats. She tries to twist any semblance of indivudalism from her daughter in a number of ways.

                Lord Asriel is a deeply flawed person who seems to at least have a sense of right and wrong. Mrs Coulter tortures and brutalises children without a second thought. And yet we have reasons to at least sympathise with both. To dilute their presence in the story to representations of parental roles isn't really fair in my opinion, given the other factors at play.

                • monkeybutter says:

                  I don't think it's fair to dilute their roles to their parental roles, but my initial comment was in response to the "what kind of mother does this?!" outrage in Mark's review, so it is relevant to compare the two as parents. And their actions harm Lyra and the universe, directly and indirectly, because they both have latched onto "for the greater good" causes.

                  Lord Asriel's sense of right and wrong is what he does is right, and what his opposition does is wrong. Making him like every human ever.

  8. cait0716 says:

    I hate Mrs. Coulter. Worst Mother Ever.

    For a fleeting moment, I thought the bat that the golden monkey was tearing apart was the medicine man's daemon. I don't think that's the case. But still, creepy thought.

  9. Jenny_M says:

    I forgot how short these chapters are compared with TSK. With that book, everything is long, and everything is a punch in the face. So far, TAS is taking its time, and building slowly. In some ways, I like that, but I suppose I never noticed it before because I've never read them one chapter at a time before. Torture!

  10. Marie the Bookwyrm says:

    Oh, I want somebody in that book to KILL the golden monkey!!!!! Seriously creepy moment there.

  11. Kira Wonrey says:

    Ama is so nice! I like her very much… And the healer too. He knew Ama was lying to him, but gave her the medicine anyway so she could help Lyra.

    The golden monkey is just… ugh. Awful. Poor bat!

  12. @GalFawkes says:

    Theory: this is taking place in Sikkim (in northeastern India, in the Himalayas).
    Also, I'm glad to see so many people note the similarities between Asriel and Coulter. I'm just seconding those sentiments.
    Also, four for you Ama! I love Ama.

  13. Ryan Lohner says:

    And according to the audiobook, Ama is pronounced "Ah-ma," not the long A sound you'd think.

    • Darth_Ember says:

      That's what I assumed as soon as I read it. How are you saying people would expect it to sound?
      'Ay-ma' or something? Doesn't sound anywhere near as aesthetically pleasing IMO. 'Ah-ma' sounds quite pretty, and it is how I've always heard it in my head.

    • flootzavut says:

      Like others, I'm trying to think how else you'd say it – "Ah-ma" would be my first guess.

      • stellaaaaakris says:

        While I always read it as "Ah-ma" I could see how some people might read it "Ay-ma" – kind of pronounced like the first part of Amy.

  14. muselinotte says:

    Pantalaimon changing into a porcupine LIKE A BOSS! – my favourite part of this chapter :D

    Mrs. Coulter creeps me out so much, even her taking care of Lyra doesn't feel loving to me… it's just endless creepiness to me.
    And ugh, that golden monkey… that WRETCHED golden monkey!!! *shakes fist*

  15. arctic_hare says:

    (JESUS GODDAMN CHRIST, TAKE THE WHEEL.)

    <img src="http://i53.tinypic.com/302rk8w.jpg&quot; border="0" alt="Image and video hosting by TinyPic">

    SERIOUSLY. That poor bat. ;_; I felt so nauseated and horrified reading that part. I don't know about you, Mark, but Mrs. Coulter is forever beyond forgiveness from me, just for what we've seen so far and what is happening now. She is drugging and physically abusing her own daughter, allowing her daemon to cruelly kill an animal… that alone would make me hate her even if I didn't know about what she did in the previous novels. She is a horrible piece of filth masquerading as a human being. God, both her parents suck, as far as I'm concerned. If only Lee hadn't died, he would've been a much better father for her and fuck I'm starting to cry again. NEVER HEALING FROM THAT CHAPTER.

    Lastly, yay Pan, and Ama, you are awesome, keep on rocking.

  16. BradSmith5 says:

    Adults aren't supposed to lie to children? Is that why Lyra freaks out whenever someone gives her a taste of her own medicine? Even in this chapter we see Ama lie with no problems, yet when Coulter does it all of a sudden it's the most shocking thing ever. I think I grew up distrusting adults, and believing that my fellow kids were the truthful ones. Then Jason stole my Spy vs. Spy Nintendo game and I learned. Oh, Iorek––where were you then?

    And where in the world did Coulter get a CANDY BAR!? Did Ama make it? Did someone find a dimensional gate leading to Hershey's? Pullman, you're killing me with the suspense!

    • Quandary says:

      Maybe she had it from her visit to Sir Charles/Lord Boreal… not the kind of thing you'd expect him to have around the house, but who knows?

      Or they have them in her world, too.

      Or she just said "Accio Candy Bar!" and one flew at her.

      • BradSmith5 says:

        Ha,ha,ha, those are all valid theories. ;)

        Now that I've spent half the day thinking about it, I suppose someone who lured children to their doom WOULD carry candy around as bait. It's good to know that Iorek will have plenty of Kit-Kats for dessert after he eats Mrs. Coulter.

    • ungala says:

      Someone else in the universe who has played the Spy vs. Spy game?? Was that not the most awesome game ever?

      • BradSmith5 says:

        Yeah! And what other game had you fighting another player in split-screen? Setting traps in all the different rooms, stabbing each other in the back–when did something else like that come along? Goldeneye?

        I even got the game back after it was stolen! The parents of the thieving kid sold his NES after that. Not as good as "Iorek justice" but I'll take it.

  17. pica_scribit says:

    I somehow never noticed how short the chapters of this book are until just now. Mark, I would totally forgive you if you wanted to do more than one a day. *looks innocent and hopeful*

    • notemily says:

      The ones last book were really long. I wonder if that was a conscious stylistic choice on Pullman's part.

    • Tonja says:

      "Mark, I would totally forgive you if you wanted to do more than one a day. *looks innocent and hopeful*"

      I completely support this idea! :D

  18. stellaaaaakris says:

    I thought the bat was flitting from container to container because it knew Ama was bending the truth and was telling the healer what he needed for the true potion. So she was kind of telling him the recipe. But the bat daemon can kind of "feel" the truth, which is an interesting idea, since we've seen that daemons have powers humans don't (e.g. can translate languages their humans don't know).

    • cait0716 says:

      Something about the bat flitting around the room reminded me of Lyra reading the alethiometer. I wonder if the healer is tuned in to Dust at all.

    • theanagrace says:

      That's how I read it too, the bat flitted to the correct drawers for the ingredients, and the medicine man knew he had already decided to give her the cure.

  19. Becky_J_ says:

    Mrs. Coulter….. is the most confusing character in any series I've ever read. I spend so much time trying to figure her out! Sometimes, I think that maybe she's good, but she is so freaking evil! She is constant contradiction… for example, having a lock of Lyra's hair and yet she is poisoning her into sleep. Gah, Pullman, why do you torture me so??

    On a slightly different note, even during the times when I think Mrs. Coulter might be good, I absolutely HATE that stupid ape of a golden monkey!
    Thanks for my new favorite phrase, Mark, I will be using it for all the times now.

  20. Kate says:

    I think what's happening with Mrs.Coulter here is that she's a purely selfish charater. In one of the previous books it mentions that she first tried to get power by 'marrying right', but when that didn't work out she got envolved with the church – and then came to run the Dust investigations and the gobblers because people would fear and respect her position and she gained power from that, rather than any True Belief of what Dust may be (although she could have become to really believe in that? It seems that way).
    Now with Mrs Coulter's relationship with Lyra I think that she finds the idea of being a caring and perfect mother very appealing but she has no idea of how to go about what that really means. She wants a mini-me running around after her, like when they were living together in book one, but if there's one step out of line in her 'perfect picture' family her selfish vindictiveness shows itself and she lashes out until she gets her way again.
    Cont..

  21. pennylane27 says:

    Ugh that goddamn monkey! And Mrs. Coulter, I DO NOT LIKE. AT ALL.

    Here, have A Very Starkid Hug to make it better.

    <img src="http://www.blogcdn.com/blog.moviefone.com/media/2011/07/2d9pxep.gif"&gt;

  22. Brieana says:

    I wonder if PETA exists in Mrs Coulter's world.

  23. notemily says:

    Unrelated comment is unrelated: To Mark and the moderators, I just read this article about comment moderation, and it made me extra grateful for the awesome community we have here and the moderators who keep it awesome. Thank you guys!

  24. seekingoutfriday says:

    Mark, question:
    Will you be posting videos of LeakyCon?

  25. tanzan says:

    my main thoughts on this chapter:

    MISS COULTER, WHY DON'T IIIIII UNDERSTAAAAANNNNND YOUUUU??????

  26. It makes me so happy that you've reached this chapter. I've only read this series once, a few years ago, and I think this chapter stands out for me the most and speaks most directly to my personal experience. I, too, love Pullman's uncompromising line on there being nothing intrinsically trustworthy about adults.

  27. Kate says:

    *Deep breath* Soooooo, what I think is happening RIGHT NOW is that the part of Mrs Coulter that wants to be a perfect mother is taking over the part of her that wants to be a powerful figure – but this brings up complications. Lyra wont fall for her lies again so she has to be kept unconcious so she wont run away; the church will kill her for keeping a potential 'New Eve' alive so they have to be kept hidden. This is why the monkey daemon views her with such skeptism and distain – this isn't how they usually go about things, they are being weak, and the quote about her hiding her own eyes reflects in the the bits here where she tries to sing Lyra nursery rhymes but doesn't know the words, and then she takes a token of hair for her locket – this is all a twisted game of House. The monkey's frustration at this is shown by him tearing that bat apart at the end, because they're naturally cruel people and what's she trying to be here is kind of a sick joke.

    In conclusion, I don't think Mrs Coulters up to something here, I think she's confused and lost her way.
    Hopefully all of that made sence, I'm terrib;e at writing down my ideas. :)

  28. Tonja says:

    I like this idea. I took the monkey's nonchalance at tearing up that poor, tortured bat as a sign of sociopathy. It speaks to a lack of empathy, especially if one's daemon is supposed to be their soul. I think Mrs. Coulter is making a mess of this "ideal mother" stuff because she really has no empathy with which to inform her choices around showing Lyra care or love.

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