As part of the His Dark Materials Read-Along, Andrea at the Overstuffed Bookcase has posted some discussion questions for Part 3 of The Golden Compass. (Yes, I’m a little late answering these, but I only scheduled in time to read The Golden Compass during the whole read-along. The review will come!)
NOTE: THERE WILL BE SPOILERS IF YOU HAVE NOT YET READ THE BOOK
1. Without trying to get too political, did some of the events in the book seem controversial to you? What parts were they? And did they bother you or did you just see them as part of the story?
I’ve stated explicitly before, and I will continue to do so, that these books are seriously anti-organized religion (and the Catholic Church happens to be everyone’s prime example of organization and religion stuck together/gone wrong/etc.) The Church is just evil here. And things get even crazier in The Amber Spyglass.
Does this bother me? I guess not. Pullman has as much freedom of speech as everyone else, though I do think it must take a decent amount of bitterness to write a series in part with the intention of telling religious people that they’re just ALL WRONG. Still, if I really hated the books this would not be the third time I have read The Golden Compass. I think both opinions are legitimate.
2. Several of the characters in this book turned out to be very different than they first appear. What characters were you surprised by (if any), and what did they do that surprised you?
Again, I’ve read the series before, but I remember the first time I read The Golden Compass that Lord Asriel’s actions at the end blew my mind completely. There is always the sense that something he is doing is not quite right—it’s clear he will do anything to get what he wants—but Lyra admires him so much that her trust and admiration cannot help but rub off on the reader. I think we are also used to thinking in dichotomies. Mrs. Coulter is evil; therefore, Lord Asriel must be the good guy. At least both of them have enough of a heart to have some type of love for their own daughter.
3. In the end, Lyra and Pantalaimon “walked into the sky.” If you haven’t yet read The Subtle Knife, what kind of other world do you think they’re going to end up in? If you have read The Subtle Knife, or if you know where they end up already, (or if you just want to answer this part of the question) what kind of dimension or other world would you want to end up in if you were in Lyra’s place? A futuristic city, an underwater realm, a type of heaven, etc?
I’ve read it!
I would love to show up in some type of pseudo-medieval world, the type that tends to occur in fantasy books where you get the cool dresses and chivalry and whatnot, but women have power, and people bathe, and you just get the best of every world.