The Graveyard Book
by Neil Gaiman
Analysis: Narrator Point of View
Who is the narrator, can she or he read minds, and, more importantly, can we trust her or him?
Third Person (Omniscient)
The narrator of The Graveyard Book is a third-person narrator, meaning that it never talks about itself, but just tells us the story. Although the narrator is most closely tied to Bod and his story, this narrator can go into the mind of any character it chooses. It’s omniscient, meaning that it knows just about everything that’s going on. It doesn’t mean that the narrator tells everything it knows, though.
This narrator likes to hint around and slowly reveal its secrets, like the way it reveals that Silas is most likely a vampire, without ever coming right out and saying that Silas is a vampire. (Go to “Characters: Silas” to see some of these hints.) The narrator is probably holding back information so readers have a (fun) little puzzle to figure out while they read.
Have Omniscience, Will Travel
Part of being omniscient (at least in this story) is being able to go wherever you want and report on events that are important to the story. The Interlude is a good example of this. The narrator reports on the Jacks of All Trades meeting, and shows us the pressure Jack Frost is under to find Bod and kill him quickly. This section also gives us clues about what the Jacks do – clues we can remember later when we learn more about the Jacks.
Something similar is going on in the two mini-sections in Chapter 7. All of a sudden we’re in some secret underground caves in Krakow, Poland, watching Silas, Miss Lupescu, and a mummy named Kandar, battling some mysterious creatures. (Or not so mysterious if you already figured out they were fighting the Jacks, of course.)
Scarlett’s Point of View
In one interesting moment, we see Bod’s battle with the Jacks from Scarlett’s point of view. Yes, it’s that heartbreaking moment when Scarlett totally rejects Bod. This is a really important view because it questions Bod’s status as a hero – something most readers probably take for granted by this point. Even though Jack held a knife to her throat, and was about to kill Bod (and killed all of his family before that), Scarlett has compassion for the guy. She feels bad watching him suffer horribly as the Sleer pulls him through the stone wall:
She saw the fear on his face, which made him look like Mr. Frost had looked. In his terror he was once more the nice man who had driven her home. (7.753)
Scarlett knows that Jack killed Bod’s family, and might be aware he’s killed others too. She wants him to pay for his crimes. Within the system of justice she’s probably used to, criminals are tried for their crimes in court and then sentenced according to the law. But Bod does nothing of the sort. Think about Scarlett’s last words to him, “You aren’t a person. People don’t behave like you. You’re as bad as he was. You’re a monster” (7.772). Ouch.
This is one way of saying that she believes that criminals should be treated with compassion, even when they show none for others. Obviously, she doesn’t think Bod treated Jack humanely. Her criticism of Bod is highlighted because the narrator focuses on her perspective right here.