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From: Adam Stephanides <adamsteph@earthlink.net>
Subject: (urth) What Lyra and Will do; to alga
Date: Mon, 28 May 2001 09:29:32 

on 5/27/01 2:12 PM, Alice Turner at pei047@attglobal.net wrote:

> Adam:
>> I
>> think Moloney has put his finger on the basic flaws of the ending,
> though
>> he's wrong to state as a definite fact that Will and Lyra do no more
> than
>> kiss.
> I think he's probably right about the kiss.

When I wrote the above, I meant only that he should not have presented this
as unquestionably true.  But having thought more about the question and
reread the relevant passages, I now think it very likely that Lyra and Will
did indeed have sex.  I have a number of arguments to support this claim;
none is conclusive by itself, but taken together they make a strong case,

1.  In Chapter 35, we see them kissing, then we cut away, then after an
undefined period of time we see them returning to Mary.  This is a
recognized convention to imply that sex has taken place, when it can't be
shown or explicitly stated (e.g. GONE WITH THE WIND).

2.  As I've argued before, Lyra is tempted and "falls."  In this context,
"falling" is usually taken to mean sex, not smooching.

3.  At the end of Chapter 35, Lyra and Will are referred to as
"children-no-longer-children."  Again, traditionally it is sexual
intercourse which is generally considered to make one a man or a woman, not
lesser acts.

4.  Lyra has certainly thought about sex: she tells Will "'I want to kiss
you and lie down with you and wake up with you every day of my life till I
die'" (TAS, 496); and their lovemaking is described in quite physical terms.
And there's no indication that they are restraining themselves.

5.  After they learn that they must separate, this scene occurs: "He stroked
her warm hair, her tender shoulders, and then he kissed her face again and
again, and presently she gave a deep, shuddering sigh and fell still." (TAS,
498)  Now one could read this as meaning simply that she's stopped crying,
and maybe it's just my dirty mind, but this does seem to me to hint fairly
broadly that they have Done the Deed.  At any rate, I very much doubt that
the double entendre is accidental.  There follows the daemon-stroking scene,
which is itself described in extraordinarily sexualized language (read it
again if you don't believe me).  This scene, and the chapter, end with the
sentence "So, wondering whether any lovers before them had made this
blissful discovery, they lay together as the earth turned slowly and the
moon and stars blazed above them."  (TAS, 499)  Again, I can't believe that
the double entendre here is accidental.

To sum up, if Lyra and Will don't have sex, there is no reason for Pullman
not to make clear that they don't, or to put in all these hints that they do
have sex.  On the other hand, if they do have sex, then there's a very good
reason for Pullman not to say so explicitly: to keep his book accessible to
younger readers.  And within these limits (and the bounds of tastefulness
and of Lyra and Will's characters), I'd say Pullman goes about as far as he
can in implying that they have sex.

There's also a bit of external evidence, though of a primarily negative
sort.  In the readerville discussion, when the question of what Lyra and
Will did comes up, Pullman doesn't deny that they have sex: he says "It's
none of my damn business!  My imagination withdrew at that point." (message
#31)  Had the thought of them having sex never entered his mind, or had the
idea of two twelve-year-olds having sex been inconceivable to him, he surely
would have said so.  Pullman goes on to say "If you want to follow them
under the tree and watch what happens, you must bear the responsibility for
what you see. Personally, I think privacy is a fine and gracious thing. I
describe a kiss: and there are some turning-points in life for which a kiss
is quite enough."  I take this as meaning that if you want to think that
Lyra and Will only kissed, you can.

As for your other points:

> Her daemon, after all, has
> not yet settled.

Do you mean that since her daemon had not settled at the start of the scene,
this shows she was innocent and hence unlikely to think of having sex?  But
that's precisely the point of the scene, that she is "choosing" not to be
innocent any longer.  (Though I agree with you that the "choice" aspect is
unclear.)  Or do you mean that the fact that their daemons are still
shifting after the scene shows that they did not have sex?  But their
daemons do settle after the scene I discuss in point five above; and in any
case, I don't recall any indication that it is specifically loss of
virginity which causes one's daemon to settle.  (If it is, then since Lyra
tells Will that daemons settle "about our age, or a bit older.  Maybe more
sometimes," (TAS, 457) you must be wrong about Lyra being too young for

> And if they did have sex, in her role as Eve she would
> have to get pregnant, which is a bit much for a 13-year-old.

Lyra is definitely Eve, whether or not she has sex.  I don't see why you
think this doesn't require her to have sex, but does require her to get
pregnant if she does have sex.  In any case, her being the new Eve doesn't
mean that she has to correspond to the biblical Eve in all particulars (she
wasn't created from Will's rib, for example).

On another topic:

> Mrs. Coulter, who serves the Church, seems to have been, and remains,
> rather a lively sort in that department.

There are a couple of Lord Asriel/Mrs. Coulter fanfics on the site.


*More Wolfe info & archive of this list at http://www.urth.net/urth/

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