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Me and Sylvia, on the Potomac (September 2010)

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Although I have done it all these thirty years or more, although I live my life surrounded by other people who are always doing it, still I think that there are few activities so worthy of inspection as the reading of novels.

Juan Gabriel Várgas


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🦋 Gobblers

Chapter 4 of The Golden Compass: Sylvia and I are both, separately, trying to figure out why the Master sends Lyra off with Mrs. Coulter, who is obviously a Bad Guy. Sylvia laid out her hypothesis to me:

Sylvia: Dad? What is that thing the Master gave Lyra? What did he say it could do?

Me: The Alethiometer you mean? He said it was a machine that would tell her the truth.

Sylvia: ...I think it's going to tell her that she's a Gobbler. He knows it and he wants it to tell her.

Me: Hm, that sounds like it could be...
(A minute later) If he knows though, why doesn't he just tell her?

Sylvia: Because she would probably just refuse.

That's a good thought. I also am working on an idea where maybe Mrs. Coulter's kid-stealing activities are actually benign, or serving a greater good, and we've been misled by the children's talk of Gobblers. The distinction between Good Guys and Bad Guys is not as clear in this book as in most of the other stuff we've read before. But I think Sylvia's idea is probably closer to right.

posted evening of Thursday, October 30th, 2008
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