Take a story's temperature by studying its tone. Is it hopeful? Cynical? Snarky? Playful?
Wise and Thought-Provoking
Tone is where we look at all the elements of the novel and think about the author’s feelings toward his or her audience and subject matter. Although the narrator’s point of view is something we consider in tone, it’s only one part of what we look at. There are lots of ways to go with tone, but we feel that there’s a central tone of wisdom throughout the story, mixed with a desire to get readers thinking.
We get the impression that Neil Gaiman is a wise person who has done lots of research and soul-searching to produce The Graveyard Book. With this novel, he seems to want to awaken readers’ interest in history, in science, and yes, in the worlds of fantasy and the supernatural. He seems to want to stir up our thinking about life, death, and the afterlife, to encourage kindness and acceptance between all different kinds of people. By showing that live people, dead people, and supernatural creatures can all get along, Gaiman seems to be encouraging us to apply this to our own lives too.
Yet, by including characters like the Jacks of All Trades, Abanazer Bolger, and the ghouls, Gaiman might want readers to consider their beliefs about the nature of good and evil. He also might want us to think about if we choose our destinies or if they choose us. Bod’s life seems fated, prophesied thousands of years ago. But, we can ask, if Bod didn’t choose to make the decisions he made, would he have been able to fulfill that destiny? See our discussion of “Themes: Fate and Free Will” for some more on that topic. In the meantime, keep reading The Graveyard Book – we think it has lots of wisdom that we can all appreciate.