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The Golden Compass

The Golden Compass

by Philip Pullman

Identity Quotes

How we cite our quotes:

Quote #1

She was a coarse and greedy little savage, for the most part. But she always had a dim sense that it wasn't her whole world; that part of her also belonged in the grandeur of Jordan College; and that somewhere in her life there was a connection with the high world of politics represented by Lord Asriel. All she did with that knowledge was to give herself airs and lord it over the other urchins. It had never occurred to her to find out more. (3.9)

From the outset of the novel, Lyra's identity is presented as something of a contradiction. She is a savage in some respects, but she is also of noble birth. She's uneducated, but she's also tied to the academic world of Oxford.

Quote #2

"No," she said, "no, I don't want to leave Jordan. I like it here. I want to stay here forever."

"When you're young, you do think that things last forever. Unfortunately, they don't. Lyra, it won't be long – a couple of years at most – before you will be a young woman, and not a child anymore. A young lady. And believe me, you'll find Jordan College a far from easy place to live in then." (4.28-29)

Lyra is resistant to change and growing up, a feeling many readers can relate to. Why does the Master think Lyra won't like the world of Jordan College once she becomes a "young lady"?

Quote #3

"You en't gyptian, Lyra. You might pass for gyptian with practice, but there's more to us than gyptian language. There's deeps in us and strong currents. We're water people all through, and you en't, you're a fire person. What you're most like is marsh fire, that's the place you have in the gyptian scheme. You got witch oil in your soul. Deceptive, that's what you are child." (7.9)

Ma Costa reminds Lyra that even though she acts like a gyptian, she's not actually one. Why not? Also, when Ma Costa calls Lyra "deceptive," she doesn't mean it as an insult. How does she mean it?

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