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The Graveyard Book

The Graveyard Book


by Neil Gaiman

The Graveyard Book Theme of Death

We love to see the dead and the living hanging out together. It just doesn’t happen often enough. But, there are all these tricky borders between the living and the dead that keep getting in the way. Bod is a special case. He, and only he, can walk the border between the living and the dead. Bod can see and talk to the dead, and through his story, so can we.

In The Graveyard Book, there is definitely a kind of afterlife. People exist as ghosts in the graveyard where they were buried. They aren't haunting the graveyard, though. It's nothing that scary. They're just hanging out and minding their own business. Neil Gaiman actually makes death seem kind of nice – you get to be reunited with all of your dead friends and family members, and exist happily with them. Not too bad, right? At the same time, everyone in the graveyard thinks that life is special. They all want Bod to get a chance to experience life among the living before he passes on himself.

Questions About Death

  1. What do you think of the novel’s idea of the afterlife? Is it happy, sad, scary…something else?
  2. What do you think will happen to you when you die?
  3. Bod grows up happily in the graveyard. So why is it important that he goes to join the world of the living? What's special about life as compared to the afterlife?
  4. Do you think The Graveyard Book suggests that there’s a heaven beyond the graveyard, or is the graveyard heaven?
  5. Where do you think Miss Lupescu went when she died?
  6. Have you ever seen a ghost?

Chew on This

Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devil’s advocate.

The novel presents a version of the afterlife that I don’t agree with.

Neil Gaiman’s view of the afterlife is very believable to me.

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