Study Guide

Lee Scoresby in The Golden Compass

By Philip Pullman

Lee Scoresby

Lee Scoresby is an aeronaut from the country of Texas. He's a bit of a cowboy, with a "thin black moustache" and a daemon who is a "shabby hare as thin and tough-looking as he was" (11.99). Lee flies a hot air balloon, and he's a longtime friend of Iorek Byrnison. (You can read about their adventures in the book Once Upon a Time in the North.) When Lyra gets to Trollesund, the gyptians hire Lee to join the expedition headed to the North. After the attack on Bolvangar, Lee flies Lyra, Iorek, and friends to Svalbard in his gigantic hot air balloon.

Lee Scoresby and Texas

Lee Scoresby is a Texan, and that matters. He's a symbol of free will, independence, and individual choice. Lee elaborates on his particular point of view in his dialogue with the witch Serafina Pekkala:

"I'm a simple aeronaut, and I'd like to end my days in comfort. Buy a little farm, a few head of cattle, some horses... Nothing grand, you notice. No palace or slaves or heaps of gold. Just the evening wind over the sage, and a ceegar, and a glass of bourbon whisky." (18.14)

Though he may seem like a bit of a mercenary (a hired fighter), Lee's desires have to do with life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness: you know, the American Dream and all. Why do you think Philip Pullman decided that Lee should be from "the country of Texas" instead of simply America? Could it have something to do with the history of Texas?

Lee Scoresby and Choice

The conversation between Lee and Serafina in Chapter 18 is probably Lee's most important moment in the book. While Serafina argues about the important role of fate in the conflict unfolding, Lee takes the other side of the debate. He insists that individuals should and do have a choice in what happens to them:

"Seems to me a man should have a choice whether to take up arms or not."

"We have no more choice in that than in whether or not to be born."

"Oh, I like choice, though," he said. "I like choosing the jobs I take and the places I go and the food I eat and the companions I sit and yarn with. Don't you wish for a choice once in a while?" (18.10-12)

It's very important to Lee to feel like the master of his destiny. Whose point of view do you share, Lee's or Serafina's?