Study Guide

The Golden Compass Chapter 18

By Philip Pullman

Chapter 18

Fog and Ice

  • While Lyra sleeps, Lee Scoresby the Texan and Serafina Pekkala the witch have a long conversation. We learn some very important things:
    • Lee Scoresby is concerned about whether or not he'll get paid. He's a bit of a mercenary in that respect, meaning that he fights for money instead of for a cause he believes in.
    • Scoresby and Serafina wander into a conversation about fate and free will. Scoresby is on the side of free will, saying "a man should have a choice whether to take up arms or not" (18.10).
    • Serafina is more on the side of fate, arguing that "we have no more choice in that than in whether or not to be born" (18.11).
    • We also learn from Serafina that witches see the world differently than humans do. Insults have no effect on them, for example, and they don't believe in property. When you live such a long time, she says, you value things differently.
    • Lee wants to make money and go back to Texas to retire. Flying is a job to him. Serafina can't relate to this at all. For her, "To fly is to be perfectly ourselves" (18.15).
    • Serafina says that Lyra is destined to be a part of the war, and that there is a prophecy about her. She tells Lee Scoresby that Lyra must do her part without knowing about it. Otherwise, life will become "nothing more than interlocking machines, blind and empty of thought, feeling, lifeā€¦" (18.19).
    • Serafina tells Lee that Iorek's fate is tied to Lyra's.
    • Though they disagree about many things, Lee and Serafina are both on Lyra's side.
  • Done with the marathon chat session, Lee Scoresby goes to sleep.
  • Lyra wakes up around this time, and she and Serafina have their own Very Important Conversation. Here's what we learn:
    • Lord Asriel is trying to make a bridge to another world. Lyra thinks he needs the alethiometer for that, but Serafina isn't sure.
    • Serafina doesn't mind the cold, she tells Lyra. Also, she's 300 years old. Witches can live to be 1,000, which is how old the witch mother is.
    • Serafina tells Lyra about the men who serve witches and how their lives are brief in comparison. The men often break the witches' hearts. Their kids become witches if they're girls.
    • Serafina tells Lyra that she loved Farder Coram. Lyra tells Serafina that he loved her too. She encourages Serafina to send him a message.
    • Serafina says that as long as there have been humans, they have had daemons.
    • She tells Lyra that Iorek is a prince. He would have been king if he hadn't killed the other bear.
    • The fight, we learn, was over a she-bear. Iorek should have only wounded his opponent, but the opponent wouldn't surrender like he was supposed to, so Iorek killed him.
    • Lyra thinks Iofur, the new bear king, must have tricked his way onto the throne.
    • Serafina says that when bears act like people they can be tricked. That's why Iorek was tricked by the townspeople at Trollesund. He was drinking, like a human.
    • Serafina says witches have never worried about Dust. The Church does, though, because it's made up of humans.
  • After all this talking, Lyra goes back to sleep.
  • When Lyra wakes up, Lee Scoresby is lowering the balloon.
  • Suddenly the balloon is attacked by horrible creatures called cliff-ghasts.
  • The balloon swings around and Lyra is tossed out.
  • She falls into the snow. She's cold, lost, and completely alone.
  • Soon Lyra is discovered by a bear wearing shiny armor and a plume. He takes Lyra prisoner and leads her away.