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HIS DARK MATERIALS -- Lyra Belacqua - SPOILERS

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What sets apart Pullman's heroine? Both an ordinary girl and a "Child of Destiny" -- How is she like - or unlike - the main characters in other adventures?

Message Edited by ConnieK on 10-05-2007 09:06 AM
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Kreacherteacher
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Re: Discussion Topic: Lyra Belacqua

I'll try not to spoil anything. This is a great question. I think there are some differences, but I find more similarities. She, like many teenagers, acts before thinking things through, is curious to a fault, and reason come to her after she has experienced trauma and tragedy. She is also courageous, but she doesn't seem to understand the concept of cause and effect. At least not at first. I find these characteristics evident in other heros and heroines.

The main difference I see in her is that she learns to trust herself and her instincts. She also learns to trust Pan. It was nice to witness her maturity thorugh the stories.
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Re: Discussion Topic: Lyra Belacqua

In many ways, Lyra displays the typical adolescent behaviors of a child who has been abandoned. Yes, she grew up in an environment that cared about her but there were no true parental figures for her to look up to while growing up.

She is full of false bravado and is more scared about what is happening with the kidnappings than she is willing to let on. (She's scared about smaller, sillier kid things too, like when she and Roger were in the crypts together). The circumstances force her to mature very quickly, much like a child who experiences a traumatic experience, and to make decisions that she likely would not have made just weeks earlier.

In this way, she is very much like many child heroes of children's literature. Meg Murray in "A Wrinkle in Time"; Susan, Lucy, Edmond, and Peter in "The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe"; and more recently Eragon and Harry. All of these main child characters begin their adventures in this type of "flawed" state and all of them grow into wonderful adults.
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Re: Discussion Topic: Lyra Belacqua



Kreacherteacher wrote:
I'll try not to spoil anything. This is a great question. I think there are some differences, but I find more similarities. She, like many teenagers, acts before thinking things through, is curious to a fault, and reason come to her after she has experienced trauma and tragedy. She is also courageous, but she doesn't seem to understand the concept of cause and effect. At least not at first. I find these characteristics evident in other heros and heroines.

The main difference I see in her is that she learns to trust herself and her instincts. She also learns to trust Pan. It was nice to witness her maturity thorugh the stories.




I think an important aspect of the child hero is that they tend to act on instinct and do not follow a logical course. That makes them a bit unpredictable. I think this is a very important aspect of Lyra's characters, more so than normally found in the child hero. She is the random element that brings about change and defeats destiny.

Barbara/Elberon
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Re: Discussion Topic: Lyra Belacqua

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moniraq wrote:
In many ways, Lyra displays the typical adolescent behaviors of a child who has been abandoned. Yes, she grew up in an environment that cared about her but there were no true parental figures for her to look up to while growing up.

She is full of false bravado and is more scared about what is happening with the kidnappings than she is willing to let on. (She's scared about smaller, sillier kid things too, like when she and Roger were in the crypts together). The circumstances force her to mature very quickly, much like a child who experiences a traumatic experience, and to make decisions that she likely would not have made just weeks earlier.

In this way, she is very much like many child heroes of children's literature. Meg Murray in "A Wrinkle in Time"; Susan, Lucy, Edmond, and Peter in "The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe"; and more recently Eragon and Harry. All of these main child characters begin their adventures in this type of "flawed" state and all of them grow into wonderful adults.




I am not familiar with all the child heroes you mentioned but they often seem to lack (at least temporarily) a parent and must develop in their own unique way and tend to be very innovative and independent. However, Lyra does eventually discover who her parents are and they are each a force to be reckoned with, in fact forces that Lyra herself has to deal with and actually go against. This makes the HDM somewhat unique. As we progress into the book discussions, it will be interesting to talk about her very powerful parents as forces of destiny that must be overcome.

I don't know if there is a parallel here, but has anyone noticed that both Lyra's and Lucy's "call to adventure" begin in a wardrobe?

Come to think of it Harry Potter began in a cupboard as well.

Barbara/Elberon

Message Edited by BarbaraN on 09-03-2007 01:05 PM
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Re: Discussion Topic: Lyra Belacqua



BarbaraN wrote, in part:
I don't know if there is a parallel here, but has anyone noticed that both Lyra's and Lucy's "call to adventure" begin in a wardrobe?

Come to think of it Harry Potter began in a cupboard as well.

Barbara/Elberon

Message Edited by BarbaraN on 09-03-2007 01:05 PM




Yes; I noticed that, too, BarbaraN! Interesting.

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Re: Discussion Topic: Lyra Belacqua

Will someone get these kids out of the closet?!

No disrespect intended. Just bein' silly.



BarbaraN wrote:I don't know if there is a parallel here, but has anyone noticed that both Lyra's and Lucy's "call to adventure" begin in a wardrobe?

Come to think of it Harry Potter began in a cupboard as well.

Barbara/Elberon

Message Edited by BarbaraN on 09-03-2007 01:05 PM


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Nadine
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Harry and Lyra

After all these months with Harry, I can't help but to compare these two child heroes. They are so different--at least at the start. Harry is a nice kid that has been bullied most of his young life. He is a little mischievous and occasionally "breaks rules." But he seems to be quite honorable right from the start.

Lyra, on the other hand, seems more like a Dudley that turns out well. She lives a half wild life leading gangs that bully other children, she is blatantly disobedient, more curious, actually uncouth in that she spits pits and slings mud at people, she is a very free spirit left totally to her own devices, a daredevil that climbs over roof-tops, she likes adventures for adventures sake, she is an outright liar and good at it, and totally uncontrollable.

Now what do they have in common? Well, they both value friendship. Even though Lyra somewhat dominates Roger, she is loyal to him and tenacious in her quest to save him. In fact she is very loyal to all those she befriends. She does keep her word. Both she and Harry seem to have pretty good instincts but they are not infallible and they do make wrong "guesses." And they both seem to have certain "abilities" that set them apart as special. In Lyra's case her ability to read the alethiometer.

They both start out life without parents. Harry discovers his as they appear to him as "phantoms" (I'm not sure how you would refer to them) and memories and they do provide him with positive advice and aid during the series. Lyra's parents are problematic to say the least and she certainly doesn't get much moral or even physical support from either of them.

Oddly enough for this type of story, she has no mentor like Dumbledore. She has some brief adult companions that do help her along but nothing stable or permanent that I can see and the aid is always reciprocal. They need her more than she needs them. She really doesn't even have any close friends outside Pam. Lyra is really a child with no one to rely on but her own resources. At the end of the book she has to make her own decision and face her own destiny totally on her own. She has lost Roger (who was never more than a playmate) and left Iorek behind (who was also never much more than a companion and physical aid).

I will have to think more on Lyra as I reread the book. She does seem to have the "right stuff" that makes heroines but different stuff than what Harry had and very different circumstances.
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Re: Discussion Topic: Lyra Belacqua



ConnieK wrote:


BarbaraN wrote, in part:
I don't know if there is a parallel here, but has anyone noticed that both Lyra's and Lucy's "call to adventure" begin in a wardrobe?

Come to think of it Harry Potter began in a cupboard as well.

Barbara/Elberon

Message Edited by BarbaraN on 09-03-2007 01:05 PM




Yes; I noticed that, too, BarbaraN! Interesting.

~ConnieK




Nice catch!

Pullman says it wasn't done on purpose. Someone pointed it out to him afterwards. To me, that makes it even funnier. Considering his feelings about Lewis, and his desire to write something with a different message, it's pretty clear that his subconscious was hard at work...
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Re: Discussion Topic: Lyra Belacqua

I have not read much of the book but first impression is that Lyra is inquisitive and curios as most teenagers are. She is a risk taker especially with her uncle and the wine episode. But she finds things intriguing in the slideshow he presents.
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Re: Harry and Lyra

Maybe the biggest thing Lyra and Harry have in common is courage? Lyra seems to me the more intellectually curious of the two.

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Nadine wrote, in part:
After all these months with Harry, I can't help but to compare these two child heroes. They are so different--at least at the start.


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Re: Harry and Lyra



ConnieK wrote:
Maybe the biggest thing Lyra and Harry have in common is courage? Lyra seems to me the more intellectually curious of the two.

~ConnieK



Nadine wrote, in part:
After all these months with Harry, I can't help but to compare these two child heroes. They are so different--at least at the start.







Is is courage or determination? Perhaps both. I don't know if Lyra is intellecutally more curious than Harry or just more adventerous. Harry has had alot of horrible things happen in his life that would lead him to be warry of the unknown. I think he was sometimes afraid to find out what was happening in case it was another terrible turn in his life...which of course he over came in the later books. I mean he was abused, forced under a cubbord, and his parents were murdered. Lyra, although she was told about her parents' death, was well looked after with a private room, food, clothes, and even found friendship. Harry didn't have a friend until he went to Hogwarts. That has to scar you emotionally at a young age and make you kinda timid.
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Re: Harry and Lyra

Good point about Lyra's finding friendship and some level of nurturing, Shadow_Poet2. Also, she was raised by "scholars," so that has to have had an impact on her level of curiosity about the world. She also has that in her blood, given who her parents are. As for courage, Rowling says that's the trait she admires most in people, so Harry is full of that. He may not have gone out searching for adventure like Lyra, but he dealt with situations forced on him with great courage.

~ConnieK



Shadow_Poet2 wrote:
I don't know if Lyra is intellecutally more curious than Harry or just more adventerous. Harry has had alot of horrible things happen in his life that would lead him to be warry of the unknown. I think he was sometimes afraid to find out what was happening in case it was another terrible turn in his life...which of course he over came in the later books. I mean he was abused, forced under a cubbord, and his parents were murdered. Lyra, although she was told about her parents' death, was well looked after with a private room, food, clothes, and even found friendship. Harry didn't have a friend until he went to Hogwarts. That has to scar you emotionally at a young age and make you kinda timid.


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Re: Discussion Topic: Lyra Belacqua

Lyra is an adolescent and prone to do things before she thinks about them. She is adventurous and I think she differs from Harry Potter in that he is a bit more cautious given the circumstances he is under. She likes to be treated like a lady with fine clothing, etc. at the expense of Mrs. Coulter. She also knows when there is danger about and tends to steer clear of it by escape, i.e. Mrs. Coulter.
The woods are lovely, dark and deep, but I have promises to keep and miles to go before I sleep - Robert Frost
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Re: Discussion Topic: Lyra Belacqua

Yes, and notice that in GC, she often makes decisions and acts *alone*, though she does get some allies along the way, too. Unlike Harry, Lyra's not acting within the company of a small circle of friends in every instance.

~ConnieK



maxcat wrote:
Lyra is an adolescent and prone to do things before she thinks about them. She is adventurous and I think she differs from Harry Potter in that he is a bit more cautious given the circumstances he is under. She likes to be treated like a lady with fine clothing, etc. at the expense of Mrs. Coulter. She also knows when there is danger about and tends to steer clear of it by escape, i.e. Mrs. Coulter.


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Re: Discussion Topic: Lyra Belacqua



ConnieK wrote:
Yes, and notice that in GC, she often makes decisions and acts *alone*, though she does get some allies along the way, too. Unlike Harry, Lyra's not acting within the company of a small circle of friends in every instance. She's a feisty one!

~ConnieK



maxcat wrote:
Lyra is an adolescent and prone to do things before she thinks about them. She is adventurous and I think she differs from Harry Potter in that he is a bit more cautious given the circumstances he is under. She likes to be treated like a lady with fine clothing, etc. at the expense of Mrs. Coulter. She also knows when there is danger about and tends to steer clear of it by escape, i.e. Mrs. Coulter.





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Re: Discussion Topic: Lyra Belacqua

I think that is an important point and one that does make her different from Harry through a lot of the HP series. Though I might add at the end he DOES act totally alone. It think that acting alone is a hallmark of Lyra's and an important part of the prophecy. She may have some help along the way but all her decisions (and she is always sure of them) are her own. In fact, I think the leadership skills she gained back in her Oxford days leading gangs of children in inter-school battles and planning strategy are serving her very well later on. To avoid spoilers I will mention some of these under the chapter sections.




ConnieK wrote:


ConnieK wrote:
Yes, and notice that in GC, she often makes decisions and acts *alone*, though she does get some allies along the way, too. Unlike Harry, Lyra's not acting within the company of a small circle of friends in every instance. She's a feisty one!

~ConnieK



maxcat wrote:
Lyra is an adolescent and prone to do things before she thinks about them. She is adventurous and I think she differs from Harry Potter in that he is a bit more cautious given the circumstances he is under. She likes to be treated like a lady with fine clothing, etc. at the expense of Mrs. Coulter. She also knows when there is danger about and tends to steer clear of it by escape, i.e. Mrs. Coulter.







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Re: Discussion Topic: Lyra Belacqua

I'm having difficulty warming up to Lyra enough to really care about her. I noticed this in SK Chapter 2 where Serafina Pekkala and Lee Scoresby show great concern for her, enough to both take on deadly missions and forgo their own plans. I found myself wondering why. Well, the witches are concerned about the Prophecy. I am listening to the audio so this may be the problem. But I was wondering if anyone else was having such indifferent feelings toward Lyra. Of course, things may change as the series progresses. I've only known her as kid who lies and bullies her way through many of her adventures.
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Re: Discussion Topic: Lyra Belacqua

You know, Nadine; I felt the same way about Lyra. I'm not sure why. I like her festiness, etc. from afar, but I'm not close to her "personally" as a reader. She has not engaged my heart.

~ConnieK



Nadine wrote:
I'm having difficulty warming up to Lyra enough to really care about her. I noticed this in SK Chapter 2 where Serafina Pekkala and Lee Scoresby show great concern for her, enough to both take on deadly missions and forgo their own plans. I found myself wondering why. Well, the witches are concerned about the Prophecy. I am listening to the audio so this may be the problem. But I was wondering if anyone else was having such indifferent feelings toward Lyra. Of course, things may change as the series progresses. I've only known her as kid who lies and bullies her way through many of her adventures.


~ConnieAnnKirk




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Re: Discussion Topic: Lyra Belacqua

To get back to the topic of being orphans, Harry had no one to parent him as a child. Lyra had Ma Costa, even if she doesn't remember it, and the Master and Scholars at Jordan College love her, per The Amber Spyglass. She has a certainty about herself that Harry lacks. I think this allows her to behave with abandon, and carry out pranks large and small, because there is an inner security there. As far as not liking her, I think Pullman did that on purpose. He didn't to atart out with a loveable child like a Lucy, or a child we would automatically feel protective towards. He wants us to admire what she is able to do. I think a better comparison would be Harry and Will.
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