His Dark Materials | Study Guide

Philip Pullman

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His Dark Materials | The Amber Spyglass | Summary

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About the Title

The amber spyglass is the third tool that plays an important role in the series, along with the alethiometer (golden compass) and the subtle knife. Created by Mary Malone from amber she finds in the land of the mulefa, it allows her to see Dust and understand it is in danger of being lost.

Summary

Searching for Lyra

The Subtle Knife ended with Lyra Belacqua's abduction. The Amber Spyglass begins by answering the question of where Lyra is. Mrs. Marisa Coulter is hiding with her in a cave, keeping her in a drugged sleep and hiding their identities by pretending to be a holy woman. Lyra, in her dream state, communicates with her best friend Roger. He has been imprisoned in the world of the dead after Lord Asriel sacrifices him to open the heavens. Lyra promises Roger she will come to help him.

Will Parry, meanwhile, is in the company of two angels, Balthamos and Baruch, who have come to help him deliver the subtle knife to Lord Asriel. Will refuses to go with them, though, until they find Lyra. Baruch heads off to find Lyra and soon discovers where Mrs. Coulter is hiding. He returns to Will and Balthamos with the news, but they are suddenly attacked by a malevolent being determined to destroy them. Will cuts another window into Lyra's world and they escape just in time.

The angels reveal the attacker was Metatron, regent to the Authority. They explain that the Authority is not what most believe him to be. He was the first and most powerful of the angels, but still only an angel. He told the angels who came after him he was their Creator, and he also created a kingdom for himself, sometimes called the Clouded Mountain. But eventually an angel even wiser than the Authority came into being and saw him for what he was. This angel, later revealed to be Xaphania, was banished, but other angels serve her still. The angels also tell Will about "heaven." It is, in reality, a prison camp created by the Authority, where "countless millions" of ghosts now exist. Even the churches don't know about it, telling their believers a lie about living in heaven. As the urgency of their mission grows, it is decided that Baruch will fly alone to Lord Asriel, and Balthamos will remain with Will.

In Search of Lyra

Will Parry is not the only one looking for Lyra Belacqua. Lord Asriel and representatives of the Church are all gathering intelligence. Lord Asriel's information comes from Lord Roke, Chevalier Tialys, and Lady Salmakia, his tiny Gallivespian spies. From them he learns Asriel's enemies believe a great crisis is near and the "fate of everything" will depend on how Lyra responds. Baruch arrives, having been grievously wounded by enemy scouts. He informs Asriel that the Authority has left most of the affairs of the kingdom in the hands of Metatron, and together they plan to control the increasingly independent humans through the use of a permanent Court of Inquisition. Just before he dies, Baruch also tells Asriel about Will, the subtle knife, and the approximate location of Lyra, and Asriel sends one of his advisors, King Ogunwe, to find her.

The Consistorial Court of Discipline, under the leadership of Father MacPhail, also knows about Lyra, Will, and the subtle knife. Father MacPhail sends a fleet of zeppelins after them, saying that Lyra, the new Eve, must be found and killed in order to prevent another Fall. To reinforce his efforts, he also assigns the task of assassinating Lyra to young Father Luis Gomez, who is given "preemptive absolution" so he can murder while in a state of grace. MacPhail also advises Gomez to find Lyra by following the tempter—Mary Malone.

As the various factions move to find Lyra, Mary Malone's journeys have taken her into the world of the mulefa—gentle, intelligent, animal-like creatures who travel by hooking the claws of their feet into seed pods and using them like wheels. They adopt Mary into their community, and she slowly begins learning their language and helping them with their tasks. One day, without warning, they are attacked by a group of birdlike creatures called tualapi. They partially destroy the mulefa community, including most of the seed pods that are crucial to the mulefa and that Mary learns are becoming extinct.

The Rescue

In Lyra Belacqua's world, the angel Balthamos is grief-stricken by the death of Baruch, whom he had loved deeply. He nonetheless decides to honor Baruch by continuing to protect Will Parry. He locates a nearby town where Will can book passage on a boat that will bring him nearer to where Lyra is being held. The king of the armored bears, Iorek Byrnison, is also in town on his own ship. The bears' kingdom is melting because of the rift Lord Asriel made between worlds, and they are on a quest for a new home. But when Iorek learns Will is looking for Lyra, he agrees to help him.

Three days later, Iorek, Will, and Balthamos arrive at the cave where Lyra is being held by Mrs. Marisa Coulter. Mrs. Coulter tells Will that when she was forced to choose between Lyra and the Church, she had chosen her daughter. As a result the Magisterium considers her a traitor, which is why they are in hiding. Will doesn't believe her. Suddenly they hear the sound of zeppelins and a gyrocopter in the distance, and Will realizes he must act quickly.

That night Will is able to use the subtle knife to enter the cave and revive Lyra. But Mrs. Coulter awakens and breaks Will's concentration as he tries to open another window, an act that shatters the subtle knife. Will picks up the pieces, and they are able to escape the cave with the help of Chevalier Tialys and Lady Salmakia, who had come to the cave after arriving with Asriel's forces. They all race from the cave and hide from their enemies by slipping through one of the windows. Lyra tells Will about the land of the dead, and they agree they must try to get there to help Roger and perhaps find Will's father. Lyra consults the alethiometer and learns Iorek Byrnison, a master metalworker, will be able to repair the knife. They return to the world they had escaped from, and Iorek agrees to repair the knife.

In Asriel's Fortress

During the rescue Mrs. Coulter had been captured by Lord Asriel's people and is now a captive in his fortress. King Ogunwe, Lord Roke, and Xaphania—the rebel angel in the first heavenly war who had seen the Authority for the sham that he was—come to discuss the present situation. Asriel allows Mrs. Coulter to participate. Mrs. Coulter, who has truly rejected the teachings of the Church and come to love her daughter, as she told Will, repeats what she knows about the coming temptation of Lyra and the Magisterium's plan to assassinate her.

Lord Asriel then takes them all to his ironworks and reveals his "intention craft," a powerful weapon of war that can be controlled by the thoughts of a person and his or her daemon. Mrs. Coulter sees an opportunity to help Lyra, leaps into the craft with her golden monkey, and flies away. Lord Asriel smiles after her, knowing Lord Roke has followed her aboard and will make sure Mrs. Coulter does what she needs to do.

The Amber Spyglass

Still with the mulefa, Mary Malone uses materials in their world to create an instrument—an amber spyglass—that will allow her to see their version of Dust or Shadows, which they call sraf. Looking through the spyglass, Mary realizes that the sraf is flowing in torrents toward the sea, and she can sense the particles are sorrowful. Once she is able to see the sraf, the wisest of the mulefa, Sattamax, explains they need Mary's help to combat the birdlike tualapi and save the seed-pod trees, which had begun to die 300 years before and are a source of the sraf. As she listens Mary realizes the invention of the alethiometer, the subtle knife, and discoveries in her own world had also all begun 300 years previously.

Father Gomez, meanwhile, is still looking for Mary in order to find and assassinate Lyra. Following leads from people who have seen Mary, he stumbles across a window that leads to a world of seed-pod trees. He knows this is where Mary has gone.

The Land of the Dead

Before heading to Lord Asriel, Will Parry and Lyra Belacqua inform their two Gallivespian guardians that the alethiometer has told them they must first travel to the land of the dead, and they will find it by following the knife. The little band begins a long journey, first arriving at a "town" where people wait for their Deaths, whom they view as friends, to come to them. Lyra invites her own Death to reveal itself, and she convinces him to take her and her friends to the world of the dead. He guides them to a lake, where they are ferried across by an old man in a boat. He tells Lyra and Will they must leave their daemons behind to enter the world of the dead. When they begin to cross the lake, the pain of separating from Pantalaimon almost destroys Lyra, and Will and the Gallivespians feel something ripped from them as well.

The boatman takes them to an island, on which is the gate to the land of the dead. The little band finds themselves on a great desolate plain, a place of misery, filled with the ghosts of all the adults and children who have ever died. With the help of the dead, Lyra locates Roger's ghost. She shares with him that she believes her destiny is to lead all of the ghosts out of the land of the dead forever. The other ghosts ask Lyra what will happen to those who leave. She consults the alethiometer and tells them the particles that make them up will drift apart, and they will become part of everything that is alive. Numberless millions decide to follow her.

At the Consistorial Court

Mrs. Marisa Coulter takes the intention craft to the Consistorial Court in Geneva, hiding it before she goes to see President MacPhail. She is immediately put under arrest for keeping Lyra from the Magisterium, but she tells the president she had only been hiding Lyra from the "tempter." The president is skeptical and keeps Mrs. Coulter locked in her room, where Lord Asriel's small spy Lord Roke is waiting for her.

As Mrs. Coulter sleeps that night, Lord Roke sees MacPhail's assistant, Brother Louis, sneak into the room and remove a locket containing some of Lyra Belacqua's hair from around Mrs. Coulter's neck. Following him, Lord Roke learns the hair will be placed in a special bomb that can kill Lyra when it is detonated, no matter where the girl is. Unknown to Mrs. Coulter, the bomb can only be detonated with the energy created when a human is separated from its daemon, and MacPhail now plans to use Mrs. Coulter and her golden monkey for that purpose.

Even as the plans are put in place, Asriel appears and rescues Mrs. Coulter, though Lord Roke is killed. Father MacPhail decides to sacrifice himself to detonate the bomb rather than allow Lyra to live. There is a tremendous explosion. In the world of the dead, though, the bomb has missed its target, thanks to a timely warning from the ghosts of Lee Scoresby and John Parry, who had appeared just before the explosion. Lyra is unharmed.

The journey of the ghosts continues, with the ghosts going past a deep abyss that disturbs Will, who feels it needs to be closed or "something bad will happen." They finally climb high enough to where Will is able to cut a window into air instead of rock, but Lee and John Parry say they will remain behind where they feel they may be able to better help Lord Asriel battle the Specters. As the children prepare to leave, Parry expresses his pride in Will. But as a shaman, he also warns the children that everyone eventually has to live in their own world or weaken and perish. The first ghosts leave the underworld and disperse in little bursts of joy.

The Great Battle

Lord Asriel and Mrs. Marisa Coulter land at his fortress, where Lord Asriel spots the Clouded Mountain heading toward them with the regent Metatron at the reins. From Asriel's alethiometrist, he and Mrs. Coulter learn Lyra is still alive, and she and Will Parry must be kept out of the hands of Metatron, who could use them to achieve his own dark plans. Asriel and Mrs. Coulter know they must focus on saving their daughter even if Asriel's own Republic must be sacrificed in the process.

Lyra and Will briefly return to the underworld, joining the ghosts waiting to do battle for Asriel. Will cuts a window near Asriel's fortress, and they emerge into the chaos of war. Specters arrive to attack Asriel's soldiers, and Lee Scorseby flies out with the other warrior ghosts to combat them. As the battle continues, armies of witches arrive to do battle with angels still loyal to the Authority.

At that moment the intention craft appears, piloted by Mrs. Coulter. She lands it on the Clouded Mountain, where she sees Metatron's minions leaving with an enclosed crystal litter. In it is an incredibly aged being, but she has no time to consider who that may be. She asks a guard to take her to Metatron, the regent, and persuades the dark angel she wants to support him in his attempt to find Lyra. He is fooled by her soul, which he describes as a "cesspit of moral filth," and he is unable to see the spark of goodness that has been lit within her. He is deeply sexually attracted to her. He becomes obsessed with the need to have her, and she pretends to want him equally.

At the same time, with the angel Xaphania's help, Asriel has found a crack in the world that leads to the abyss in the land of the dead. Mrs. Coulter and Metatron are able to see him from above, and Metatron decides it is time to kill him. Mrs. Coulter tricks Metatron into letting her approach Asriel first. In their few moments of privacy, Lord Asriel and Mrs. Coulter acknowledge their love for each other and their daughter, and they vow they will sacrifice themselves to save Lyra and the future of the many worlds. Mrs. Coulter calls to Metatron, and the three engage in a fierce battle. Eventually the humans and their daemons are able to overcome the dark regent, and the three of them disappear into the abyss.

Lyra and Will, meanwhile, have stumbled across cliff-ghasts, who are trying to break into the crystal litter spotted by Mrs. Coulter. The creature within it is demented and powerless, and the children fight off the cliff-ghasts in an attempt to help the ancient creature. But the first gust of wind dissolves what's left of him. None of them realize the withered thing was the Authority, and now both he and his regent have been eliminated from the world. The Gallivespians guide Will, Lyra, and their daemons safely through the still-battling armies, meeting Iorek Byrnison, Lee Scorseby, and John Parry once more as they do. They say their farewells, and the dead warriors finally allow their atoms to relax and disperse into joy. Will and Lyra move through a window into another world,

Revelations

Will Parry and Lyra Belacqua find themselves in a beautiful land—the land of the mulefa. The children are taken to Mary Malone, who is overjoyed to see Lyra. Will and Lyra share the stories of their adventures with Mary, who tells them hers as well. Among them is the story of her first love. She describes kissing the man she loved and realizing love was the true paradise. Without realizing it she has planted the seed that will tempt both Lyra and Will.

Later that day the children go off on their own, looking for their daemons, who had gone into hiding in a pique after Lyra and Will were forced to leave them behind before entering the world of the dead. As they search, Father Gomez appears and realizes with joy he can fulfill his mission. He raises his rifle and takes aim at Lyra. But he is killed by Balthamos, who has returned to protect Will one more time.

The two children, unaware of the nearby battle, sit with each other and feel something new flowing between them. Lyra, like Eve in the story of the Garden of Eden, presses a red fruit to Will's lips. In an act of pure joy they kiss, proclaiming their love for each other. At that moment they understand the paradise Mary Malone had described. As they kiss the flood of Dust stops flowing and instead begins falling on them like snow. Mary Malone, seeing what is happening through the spyglass, knows what has made the change.

Not far away, the witch Serafina Pekkala has made her way to the world of the mulefa. She finds the children's missing daemons, including Will's now-visible one, Kirjava. She tells them they must return to support Will and Lyra. Serafina then finds Mary Malone and gently introduces herself. She tells Mary what she has learned from the angel Xaphania: that although this battle has been won, the forces of the kingdom will regroup, and people must always be ready to resist. Will, Lyra, and Mary herself must be among those ready to lead.

Lyra and Will are reunited with their daemons. But then they learn something else that Xaphania has shared. The cuts made by the subtle knife are what is allowing Dust to flow out from the worlds into the great abyss. Every window must be closed, and no new ones can be made because a Specter is created each time the subtle knife cuts a window between worlds. It slowly dawns on the children that this means they must be separated since each can only live a full life in his or her own world. Lyra tries to find another solution in the alethiometer but discovers the power to read it has left her.

Xaphania then appears herself. She asks Will to show her how to close the windows but promises to leave one open: the one that allows the dead to leave the dark underworld and disperse in the world of the living. She can only do this, though, if Will and Lyra promise to devote their lives to showing people how to be kind and free and curious, actions that will create more Dust to replace what is lost though the one window. The children agree, despite their pain, and each reaches out to touch the other's daemon. This settles the daemons for life because each has now felt a lover's touch.

It is finally time for the children and Mary to head back to Lyra's world, from which Will can return to his own Oxford. When the time for parting comes, Lyra asks to spend just a moment in Will's world. They run to the Botanic Garden, and Lyra shows him a tree and a bench that exist in both worlds. They each promise to sit on it, in their own worlds, once a year on Midsummer Day. In that way they will always be able to feel each other near. They reflect on one other thing they know: the kingdom of heaven is finished, and people "shouldn't live as if it mattered more than this life in this world." Where each person is is always the most important place, and their task is to build the Republic of Heaven here on Earth.

Analysis

Visions of God and Heaven

Throughout His Dark Materials visions of heaven and of God himself change both for the characters and for the readers. Heaven, from the perspective of the Church, is part of a glorious kingdom ruled by the Authority. The Authority, according to Church leaders, is an omnipotent being, and also the Creator of the world. True believers are told they will be rewarded for their faith and enter paradise when they die.

The simple fact that this god is called "the Authority," however, implies he is not the benevolent parent Church leaders pretend he is and followers believe him to be. Instead he is a tyrant with ultimate power over his subjects, including the right to make and enforce all laws and actually define morality. The Authority also demands unquestioning obedience of the living and has no use for the dead. He has even created a vast wasteland to which the dead are sent, separated from their daemons, to ensure that even their ghosts cannot rise against him. Later in the series it is revealed that he is so protective of his power he is planning to establish a permanent Inquisition, one that will help him maintain control over the increasingly independent humans by repressing free thought and executing rebels. His rule is one of oppression, but the Church and other followers of the Authority do not see it that way. They accept his reign without question, and Church leaders attempt to impose the Authority's will on others. They even have no qualms about carrying out unspeakable acts, like the monstrous experiments in Bolvangar or the assassination of Lyra, in his name.

Lord Asriel, the rebellious Satan figure in the trilogy, rejects this version of God and the Kingdom of Heaven. He sees the Authority for the dictator he is and views the kingdom as an oppressive government that represses true knowledge and condemns as heresy any ideas that contradict those of the Church. Rather than a Kingdom of Heaven, Asriel wants to create a Republic of Heaven, one of self-determination in which individual freedom is a right, knowledge is celebrated, and the people themselves determine how their lives are to be lived. Unfortunately, Asriel's own ambition and his hatred for the Authority begin to subvert his vision, and his republic and its power base in the "adamant tower" begin to look like a dark version of the Authority and his Clouded Mountain.

The conflict becomes even more pronounced when the heavenly ideal that the Church is defending and Asriel is attacking is revealed to be a sham. The Authority is discovered to have simply been the first angel, formed from Dust like other angels, and not the Creator of the universe. But he was able to convince the angels that came after him that he had created them, and he built his own heavenly kingdom with their support. But the kingdom is actually no more than a palace, also known as the Clouded Mountain, used to protect the Authority and wage war. The Authority has created a fictional theology that serves his purposes and keeps him in power. Despite his ambitions, however, the Authority is not immortal or omnipotent. He gains enemies, and he ages. When he is finally seen by others, like Mrs. Coulter and Lyra, they don't even recognize who or what he is: he has become an ancient, mindless, and powerless creature so weak he is eventually destroyed by a breath of wind. Even his powerful regent Metatron is bested in physical battle with two humans. When they die, so does their power.

It is Will Parry and Lyra Belacqua who actually define a heaven worth believing in. After gaining wisdom through their own adventures, from the Dust itself, and from allies such as Xaphania, Mary Malone, and John Parry, they know what and where heaven is, and what one must do to earn a place there. Heaven, as it turns out, is on Earth. Will says at one point, "we have to build the Republic of Heaven where we are," and Lyra herself realizes people cannot live as though the Kingdom of Heaven "mattered more than this life in this world." Here, again, Pullman echoes Paradise Lost: when Adam and Eve are sent away from Eden, the archangel Michael tells them that, through good deeds, greater wisdom, and personal virtue, they can achieve "a Paradise within thee, happier far" than the one they leave behind. In His Dark Materials Lyra and Will come to understand heaven is actually something people must create for themselves by being independent, inquisitive, and most importantly, kind to each other. As for the afterlife, the children free the ghosts from the hideous wasteland created by the Authority and find a way that their atoms, or essence, again become part of the living world.

The Redemption of Mrs. Marisa Coulter and Lord Asriel

Lyra Belacqua's parents both undergo dramatic transformations in The Amber Spyglass. In the first two books Mrs. Marisa Coulter is a main representative of the Church and its powerful Magisterium, and she appears to be the embodiment of pure evil. Ferociously ambitious, she tries to gain power by finding a role in the Magisterium. To do so, she establishes and runs the Oblation Board, the purpose of which is to investigate Dust. For her research, Mrs. Coulter coldly lures children away from their homes and families and sacrifices them in grisly experiments. According to one of the scientists, she even seems to relish the suffering of the children she kills. She has shown no interest in or affection for her own daughter, only contacting Lyra when she thinks the girl may be of some use to her. Even then she doesn't tell Lyra she is her mother. So vile are her actions that even Metatron describes her soul as "a cesspit of moral filth."

Lord Asriel, though not as purely evil as Mrs. Coulter, is still a cold, ambitious man. He is driven by his anger against the Authority and obsessed with establishing his own Republic of Heaven. He is even willing to sacrifice Roger in order to build his bridge to the other worlds, the first step in accomplishing his mission. Although he protects Lyra when she is a baby, she exists on the fringes of his consciousness. Otherwise he is perfectly able to forget about her while he pursues his own objectives.

In The Amber Spyglass, though, both adults change. Mrs. Coulter reveals she had begun to question her actions and ambitions when Lyra was almost killed in the intercision machine, a device Mrs. Coulter helped design. Mrs. Coulter rescued her, realizing this was her daughter—hers and Asriel's—who was at risk. For a time, though, she still attempted to remain loyal to the Church, even suppressing her newfound feelings for Lyra after she became aware of the prophecy that Lyra was the second Eve and needed to die in order to save humanity from sin. But eventually her love for her daughter proves too strong for her to ignore. She begins a slow transformation into an enemy of the Church, doing whatever is necessary to save Lyra and help her fulfill her destiny. She lies to the members of the Magisterium, supports Lord Asriel in his rebellion, and even pretends to offer herself to the purely evil Metatron in order to help Asriel destroy him.

Lord Asriel undergoes a similar change. When he becomes aware of Lyra's role in the coming battle, he realizes it is his daughter who is the most important figure in the war against the Authority, not him. His pride in himself is replaced by pride in Lyra, and he realizes her safety and ultimate success are far more important than his own. His change and the change in Marisa Coulter are reflected in their renewed passion for each other and in their shared determination to save Lyra. The individuals who once represented the Church's most ardent supporters and fiercest rebels now unite instead behind their daughter, who may be the key to a better world than either of them has dreamed of. Together they take on Metatron and sacrifice themselves to make that possibility a reality.

Will and Lyra: Coming of Age

The coming-of-age story is a popular genre in both literature and film. It focuses on the growth of the protagonist, or protagonists, who mature from childhood to adulthood. The characters typically undergo a series of trials while learning about the larger world, and acquire knowledge from their own experiences and from the wisdom of others. They also begin to care more about others, realizing that the universe does not necessarily revolve around them. The process usually involves disillusionment as well, as both innocence and trust are betrayed. The genre has been popular since the late 18th century, and it includes everything from the novels of Charles Dickens to those of J.K. Rowling, but in His Dark Materials the coming-of-age story takes on a much greater significance.

Through most of the series, Lyra Belacqua does experience the typical progression one would expect a character to undergo in a coming-of-age novel, moving from innocence (which in her case is largely ignorance) to greater knowledge and understanding. At the beginning of the story she is immature, impulsive, and somewhat naïve, ignorant of the world outside of Jordan College. Almost immediately, though, she begins to undergo a series of challenges that change who she is and how she perceives the world. The abduction of the children by the General Oblation Board shows her the world is not a playground. Her betrayal by the beautiful Mrs. Coulter proves that appearances are deceptive. The horrors of Bolvangar introduce her to the potential abuses of both science and religion, and her own father's willingness to kill a child to achieve his goals shatters her vision of him as a hero. In The Subtle Knife her education about the dangers of the world and the potential evil to be found in people continues. Still she has not lost her capacity to love and trust others; she has simply become more discerning in how she judges others. She also begins to understand her own behaviors need to change. She finds that lying, for example, is sometimes useful but too often a betrayal. Similarly, impulsiveness can lead to danger or tragedy, as it does when Lyra leads Roger to his death at Lord Asriel's hands or when she jeopardizes Will's safety by returning to Will's Oxford after being told she shouldn't.

Will Parry, on the other hand, is already an adult, wise and responsible beyond his years after caring for his mother. He has already known disillusionment, and he sees the world as both unfair and threatening, a place where authorities will try to separate him from his mother because she is unwell. As a result he has also become closed off emotionally simply because it is safer. For Will, coming of age will, ironically, mean recapturing some of the innocence and trust he has lost and regaining the ability to love.

In each other, Will and Lyra both discover their final links to maturity, first by becoming each other's best friend. By doing so they both are putting another person's well-being ahead of their own. But the final, most critical change is triggered by Mary Malone, who inadvertently tempts the two with stories about sensual pleasures she discovered as an adult, as well as the tale of her first love, which she describes as paradise. As Lyra listens to the stories, she feels "other doors opening deep in the darkness, and lights coming on." Shortly afterward the two children take the final step into adulthood. Lyra expresses her love, presses a piece of fruit to Will's lips, and kisses him. When she does, "all his body thrilled with it." He expresses his love as well, "kissing her hot face over and over again, [and] drinking in ... the scent of her body." Eventually, Will also touches Lyra's daemon, a forbidden, intimate action. She, in turn, touches his daemon. Both daemons take on their final form, having known a lover's touch.

It is this final act, however, that gives their coming-of-age story a greater significance. Early in the series it is established that Church leaders believe that when children reach puberty, they are corrupted by something called Dust. They see Dust as the physical manifestation of the Original Sin committed by Adam and Eve when they ate from the Tree of Knowledge, became fully aware of themselves, and experienced a sexual awakening. The Church leaders have been trying to prevent a second Fall, even though by doing so they would also cut off people's free will, ability to gain knowledge, and independence. Lord Asriel and his rebels, on the other hand, see all of these changes as necessary and positive. The battle over Lyra and Will's coming of age, therefore, becomes a battle for humankind's future. The resolution of this conflict in The Amber Spyglass makes it clear which message the author is trying to send. When Lyra and Will show their love, their coming of age represents the salvation of humankind and the triumph of knowledge and experience over ignorance.

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