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Discussion: Chapters 1-9 of The Golden Compass #HDMreadalong

Hello and welcome to the first discussion post for the His Dark Materials Readalong!  Just a few notes before we begin:

  • This discussion will be regarding Chapters 1-9 of The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman ONLY.  If you haven’t read that far, please be warned–there WILL be spoilers for those chapters. If you have read MORE than this, please DO NOT leave spoilers for anything past Chapter 9, as many of our participants (myself included) haven’t read this series before.
  • Feel free to answer the questions in the comments, OR you can copy the questions and write your answers on your own blog.  If you do answer the questions on your own blog, you can use that post as an entry for the giveaway.  It can be used as the first, mandatory entry to the giveaway or if you’ve already completed the mandatory entry, it can count as another discussion post entry.  Go to the kickoff post to enter the giveaway, and let me know if you have any questions. (Also, feel free to write a post on your blog with your own discussion questions, and that can also count as an entry!)
  • I’ll write the discussion questions and then give my own answers at the bottom of the post.

The Golden Compass:  Chapters 1-9 (Part One: Oxford)

1.  In Lyra’s world, humans have dæmons, little creatures that take animal forms, who are connected to the humans in certain ways.  The dæmons are kind of like an extension of the human.  They can detect each other’s feelings, and when one gets hurt, the other feels it as well.  Do you think that these creatures serve a purpose in this world, other than companionship?  And would you want a dæmon of your own?  The dæmons apparently stay in one form once their human is past a certain age.  What form do you think your dæmon would take once you became of age?

2.  There is a lot of controversy surrounding the His Dark Materials series.  Have you seen any kind of controversial subjects thus far in the book?  If so, what are they?

3.  In Part One of The Golden Compass, we learn so much about this world and the plot of the novel, and yet somehow there are already several plot twists.  Did you anticipate any of the plot twists?  Or did they all take you by complete surprise?

My Answers

1.  I’m not sure if the dæmons have any sort of purpose in this story, or if they’re just something that is a part of this world.  I mean, they do come in handy.  They can help you fight and they can spy for you and they can become any type of animal (when you’re young) so they can blend into places.  But other than that, I’m not sure if they serve a greater purpose.  

I might want a dæmon of my own, but I do think it would get annoying to have someone there with you ALL THE TIME.  You can’t ever get away from them, can you?  That would probably get old.  But at the same time, you’d never be lonely.  

And once I came of age, I’m not sure what form my dæmon would take.  Do they take the form of your favorite animal?  If so, mine would be a praying mantis.  If they take the form of some animal with your personality, it would be some kind of a wuss animal who’s also a people pleaser, like a scared dog.  And if it’s the opposite of your personality, it would be some kind of extremely big, brave, scary animal, like a bear.

Side note:  What if your animal gets stuck as like a dolphin?  Would you have to stay near water at all times so it could live?

Side note #2:  How in the heck do you pronounce dæmon?  Is it just like demon?  Or is it like how I’ve been saying it:  day-ee-mon?  Or something completely different?

2.  I know that there is some religious controversy surrounding this series, but so far the only thing that I’ve seen that Pullman seems to be commenting on is the patriarchal government.  Women are very much unequal in this world, in the school, in the gyptian clans, and in everyday life.  Pullman may be criticizing the current patriarchal system in the Catholic church, but I think that would be a stretch to assume that so early on in the book.  However, I’m not Catholic so there could have been other things that I’ve missed that could support this claim.  

But to me, it just seems like Pullman has created a world that reflects our history.  I’m not really sure when this story is supposed to be set, but for some reason I think it’s in the early 1900s.  Of course, I could be wrong about that, too.  But if it is set in that time, it would make complete sense that, even in this alternate universe, there would be that type of inequality among men and women because that is how it was in our own world at the time.  So, for me, I don’t see much controversy as of yet.  But we’ve still got plenty more of this book to read, as well as 2 more books!

3.  Unfortunately, I knew of one of the plot twists going into the story.  I haven’t read the book before, or seen the movie, but Hank Green (brother of YA author John Green) wrote an awesome song once called Harry Potter Song, in which he talks about how all of the other YA books he has read just don’t stack up to Harry Potter.  And one of the lines referred to the whole Lyra/Mrs. Coulter thing.  So thanks, Hank, for that.  However, since we find out that whole twist so early on in the book, I’m not TOO mad about knowing it beforehand.

I didn’t see the whole thing with Lord Asriel/Lyra coming, though.  That surprised me.  But the one that really surprised me was that the Gobblers were the Oblation Board, and that adults knew about it.  That was really clever that they were the same thing, and it just blew my mind that adults knew that they were the same thing.  Of course, not all adults knew about it, I guess.  And most of the adults who knew about it weren’t okay with it.  But at that party at Mrs. Coulter’s house, it did seem like a lot of the adults there knew about it but didn’t mind.

So, what do you think?  Feel free to answer in the comments, or leave a link if you answered on your own blog!  I’m looking forward to seeing what you all thought!  Next week Jessie will be discussing Chapters 10-17 (Part Two: Bolvangar) over at The Daily Bookmark.  And go here for all things HDM Readalong!


  1. pagesunbound

    September 8, 2012 at 12:45 am

    I posted my answers! Though I don't know that I am completely happy with them yet. Unfortunately, real homework/literary analysis calls. ;)

    I love that you actually used an ash in "daemon." I guess I was too lazy….

  2. Adriana

    September 8, 2012 at 2:03 am

    I don't know how to do that daemon thing…

    Posted my answers too (:
    Great questions!

  3. Bittner

    October 6, 2012 at 9:41 pm

    I've already gone past chapter 9 (but not by much) and now I can't remember when Chapter 9 ended. Hmmm…

    Anyway, I think the daemons are a combination of who you are at your core and who you could ultimately become. I don't think it would have much to do with favorites. I think you would have a crow or maybe a squirrel.

    And in case you were still wondering, on the audio version they pronounce it as demon.

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