The Golden Compass

by Philip Pullman

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Student Question

What is the theme of journey in The Golden Compass?

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Philip Pullman’s The Golden Compass explores both literal and figurative journeys. As Lyra sets out on her quest to save her father, Lord Asriel, she learns a great deal from the colorful characters she meets along the way.

Lyra is just eleven, and she is also going through the journey of growing up throughout this book. The way her daemon (a physical manifestation of a person’s soul) can change form emphasizes this. Growing up is a journey we all go through, and it is a complex and at times difficult one. For instance, when Lyra sees the Master try to poison Lord Asriel, she begins to realize that adults lie, and not everyone can be trusted. But lessons like this one help her as she goes about her own journey. The book thus suggests that the journey of childhood is one that teaches vital lessons and brings about important changes.

It is also interesting to consider the theme of journey alongside the theme of destiny. Although Lyra does not know it, this journey is her pre-told, unchangeable destiny. In the book’s world, fate is very important, and it is as if everyone’s life is a predestined journey.

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