4

In The Amber Spyglass, by Philip Pullman, Lyra and Will realize they love each other, and kiss.

Doctor Mary Malone suddenly sees the Dust stop flowing away, and instead it is eddying and swirling and falling straight down like it should.

Why did the Dust change its behaviour at that point? The windows to other worlds aren't closed by the Angels till later, so that can't be it. Any suggestions?

  • 4
    Dust is pretty much defined as operating on symbolism and metaphor rather than physical reasoning. – Radhil Jun 29 '18 at 12:40
  • Conjecturing: The church feared Lyra since she was prophesied to make Eve's decision. Sex and Dust are related to sin (is this valid?). Therefore, Lyra's sexual awakening restores the proper flow of Dust. – Verdan Jun 29 '18 at 16:13
  • @Verdan - Dust related to original sin was the church's interpretation. It may be valid, but considering they took that information and went on to lobotomize children, either to experiment or "save" them, it almost certainly can't be considered a complete understanding. I don't remember Amber Spyglass well enough for a proper answer, but there was a discussed theme that Dust may actually be related to sentience, or self-awareness, or a similar high end concept. I think the intention was the duo's awakening was more than sexual, although that was certainly part. – Radhil Jun 29 '18 at 17:56
  • 3
    @Radhil - Yes, dust = sin was the church's interpretation. Also valid within the story is that sentience (the ability to choose) = sin. Lyra's choice. – Verdan Jun 29 '18 at 17:59
2

Dust, particles of consciousness, is attracted to Adult humans (recall the photograph that Azriel shows the scholars). It is the experience of Adult emotions, particularly eros, or romantic love, that causes Dust to become attracted to a person (and causes other effects such as the settling of their dæmon into a single form). Lyra only learns this when her feelings towards Will change at the end of the last book.

The eros experienced by Will and Lyra is exceptionally strong. Their love brings back balance to the flow of Dust, just as the first "fall" when Eve and Adam discovered love caused Dust to flow towards people in the first place. The uncontrolled flow of Dust (the river in the sky) away from people is a directly a consequence of the rip through the universes caused by the bomb made with Lyra's hair, but indirectly due to the lack of an adult who can love as romantically and strongly as Eve did, and as Lyra does.

The first fall occurred about 33000 years before the novel is set. Prior to that time, humans were animals, and were not aware of their dæmons (as described in Lyra's version of Genesis) This was also the time when the Mulefa first began to ride on seedpods, and they have their own version of the Adam and Eve story.

The prophecy that the witches made was that Lyra was a new Eve, and she must "fall" for Dust to once again flow smoothly down to Adults.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.