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Children’s literature is full of orphans or near-orphans
who go on adventures. Will Parry, who looks after himself and his
ailing mother, follows in this tradition. Because he lacks true
parent figures, Will is free to explore another world. Will does
not enjoy everything about his parentless state. Like Lyra, Will
is driven by his search for his father. Because he has acted like
an adult for so long, Will longs to be a child and to be advised
and parented by his long-absent father. Fittingly, it is in his
search for childhood that Will matures and finds love with Lyra.
Pullman suggests free will is what separates adults from
children. Adults are allowed to exercise free will, while children
are not. To Pullman, the Church treats its parishioners like children,
stifling their natural impulses and oppressing them with strict
rules about what they can and cannot do. Will, who is closer to
adulthood than Lyra is, represents the triumph of free will. He
is strong-willed and stubborn. Instead of being coddled by a doting
mother, he looks after adults. People constantly comment on how
he seems to be more than a mere child. Will is a formidable opponent
who acts when necessary and rarely dithers over what to do next.
Ace your assignments with our guide to His Dark Materials!