In wintry Svalbard, a young girl discovers a new worldMarch 16, 2016

Professor Wells couldn't tell if I was trying too hard to impress anyone in the room. It didn't take me a minute to choose "Northern Lights" for the exercise. And it had nothing to do with my long desire to set foot in Svalbard.

I was a young lad of ten when my father first read "Northern Lights", and it made a huge impression on me. It helped that he was a native of Oxford, so he knew which sentences he would put emphasis on it. Philip Pullman didn't let me wait long, as the first chapter described how Lyra Belacqua find herself in the midst of an extraordinary happening. Lord Asriel came back from the Arctic region, and saw something in the northern lights. It wasn't the colours. (This was rather too obvious.) What if the aurora borealis could be a gateway to another world?

After several chapters, I sensed an uncertainty in Lyra's journey. It wasn't hard to guess that she was part of a grand scheme of things, which she was unaware at that point. There was so much to tell, but it was hard to decide where to start. My instructor gave me a guideline, which I must followed. This would guarantee the right analysis of the novel. It took me several hours, proofreading included. This was how it turned out:

Exposition explains the nature of things. Pullman was an agnostic, and "Northern Lights" would reflect his religious views. It was far from condemnation, but there were too many narrow-minded readers. (It would be better to discuss it in another paper.) The book frequently mentioned dust, which I deduced to be atom in another world. And Lord Asriel discovered its source. If proven to be true, then everything that was known about science and religion must be forgotten. Religion would be synonymous to tradition, so it wasn't hard to imagine the negative reaction to the novel. But this was only the beginning.

Argumentation seeks to convince and persuade. Why did Pullman chose a young girl to be the lead character? I don't have a clue until the final chapter. The author used a Biblical tale to create his own version of religion. It won't be remote to think that Lyra could be the mitochondrial Eve, but you must read "The Subtle Knife" to figure it out. (The second book in "His Dark Materials" trilogy revealed angels, who might have been banished from above.) So the book wasn't blasphemous as it was supposed to be. But Pullman revealed startling information.

Description seeks to perceive the book's special qualities. Pullman's description of Oxford made me want to know more of the book. In fact, I could hardly wait for the sequel of "His Dark Materials". But I was getting ahead. Perhaps Mrs. Coulter, who could put any man under her spell, would be good enough. If not, then the talking polar bears would do.

I don't know if I did a good job until a week later. I was slighted when the professor implied CliffNotes. If she only knew how I felt after turning down an invitation (to a party). It was the only way to beat the deadline.

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