Study Guide

The Golden Compass Chapter 16

By Philip Pullman

Chapter 16

The Silver Guillotine

  • Back inside, Lyra stashes her clothes in the loose ceiling panel. She decides to put the alethiometer up there too, just in case. (Remember this.)
  • Lyra and the other kids are pretty scared about Mrs. Coulter's arrival.
  • Lyra pulls Annie aside and tells her about a plan to escape. She says to wait for the signal – the fire bell – then to throw on some cold-weather clothes and run. Sounds like a plan. Hope is in the air.
  • Lyra tries to be inconspicuous and not draw Mrs. Coulter's attention.
  • That night she crawls up into the ceiling space over the conference room to spy on what's being discussed in there. Annie wants to go too, but their daemons spar and it's settled that only Lyra will go.
  • Lyra crawls through the panels, just like back at Jordan.
  • When she gets to the conference room she overhears Mrs. Coulter questioning the staff about the escaped daemons. Apparently no one knew that the daemons escaped, because the fire alarm and the daemon alarm were on the same circuit.
  • Suspects are considered, including the children.
  • The subject turns to cutting, and we find out that they've developed a new technique involving a silver guillotine that severs child and daemon.
  • Mrs. Coulter leaves and Lyra hears the remaining staff discuss her "ghoulish" pleasure in watching the cutting (16.84).
  • Lyra gasps at one point and knocks her foot. The staff hears her and pulls her out of the ceiling.
  • What to do with her? They decide to throw her in that silver guillotine they were talking about.
  • Lyra is placed into a mesh container that separates her from Pan.
  • Just as the blade is about to come down, Mrs. Coulter comes into the room, recognizes Lyra, and stops the procedure.
  • Mrs. Coulter whisks her away, asking how she got to there in the first place.