Study Guide

The Golden Compass Chapter 15

By Philip Pullman

Chapter 15

The Daemon Cages

  • Lyra may be a good liar, the narrator tells us, but she's not particularly imaginative. She doesn't get bogged down by "what if's." The way she sees it, she's in Bolvangar and she'll get out and then fly to Svalbard – and that's that.
  • The next morning Lyra spots Roger in the canteen and her daemon talks to his. They have to play it cool, of course, but they touch base nonetheless.
  • Later in the canteen they talk again.
  • Lyra and Roger also overhear a conversation about Tony Makarios. The kids say they took him because they thought his daemon Ratter stopped changing, but really she was just slow.
  • A girl had been hiding in the linen room with Tony when they came for him. The nurse told Tony they would simply cut his daemon away. It's just a cut, they said, and that's "how you get grown up" (15.29).
  • The kids all clamor about this, then one of the nurses, Sister Clara, comes in and calls for a girl – Bridget McGinn – to take her away.
  • The children go to the gym to play, and Lyra is a natural leader. She enjoys the activity.
  • At lunchtime Lyra sees Billy Costa and tells him that the gyptians are coming, with John Faa. They have to act cool, of course.
  • Billy points out a secret hiding place to Lyra. One of the ceiling panels in the canteen is loose, and he says there's a big crawl space up there.
  • Lyra sees this not as a hiding place but a "highway" (15.54) – that is, a way to escape.
  • A doctor tells all the kids that they'll be having a practice fire drill.
  • That afternoon Lyra and a few other girls are tested for Dust. Playing dumb, Lyra pumps the doctor for information and asks why they cut the daemons away.
  • He is agitated and says that's nonsense. He tries to find out who gave Lyra this info, but she fakes her way through the conversation.
  • A loud bell starts to ring during the exam (fire drill), and the doctor is annoyed – he doesn't quite know what to do. Lyra suggests she put on her old warm clothes since they're close by. She does so and they hurry out.
  • Outside it's chaos. Lyra meets up with Roger and Billy. They start a snowball fight and soon it's utter chaos.
  • The three children seize this chance to sneak away and check out the area. They see an isolated little building with a door that says no entry.
  • Just then a new figure arrives on the scene and swoops down from the sky to talk to Lyra. It's Serafina Pekkala's daemon, the goose.
  • The goose tells Lyra that the gyptians are still a day's journey away. She sends Billy and Roger to act as lookout.
  • Meanwhile the goose opens the door to the isolated building, and what they find inside is horrible: all of the daemons that have been cut away from their children.
  • Lyra tells the goose what she knows about what happened to Tony Makarios and Ratter. Sure enough, there is an empty cage with his name on it.
  • The goose helps Lyra free the daemons, making it look like an accident.
  • The goose sends Lyra on her way and tends to the daemons himself.
  • On her way out, Lyra (clearly hatching a plan again) asks the daemon if witches could pull a balloon.
  • She meets up with Roger (who is freaked out by the daemons without their humans) and then back to Billy and the group.
  • Lyra notices how disorganized everything is. She could use this slackness to her advantage and escape.
  • Just then she hears something: a zeppelin is landing. Guess who it is? You got it: Mrs. Coulter and her golden daemon monkey.