Study Guide

Coraline The Home

By Neil Gaiman

The Home

Coraline discovered the door a little while after they moved into the house. (1.1)

What a wonderful opening line for a book. The door. The house. We have no idea what the narrator is talking about, but we can already tell that <em>this</em> door in <em>this</em> house will be pretty interesting.

On the first day Coraline's family moved in, Miss Spink and Miss Forcible made a point of telling Coraline how dangerous the well was […]. So, Coraline set off to explore for it, so that she knew where it was, to keep away from it properly. (1.15)

Here the narrator cutely rationalizes Coraline's disobedience. Coraline ends up looking for the well even after she'd been told not to. Or perhaps <em>because</em> she'd been told not to. Coraline considers all of the property around her house to be part of her home, and worthy of exploration.

"Can I go into the drawing room?" The drawing room was where the Joneses kept the expensive (and uncomfortable) furniture Coraline's grandmother had left them when she died. Coraline wasn't allowed in there. (1.39)

The drawing room is a place in Coraline's own house where she isn't allowed. Maybe this is part of why she doesn't like her new house: it's not all hers to explore (although she does it anyway, of course).

It was different from her bedroom at home. For a start it was painted in an off-putting shade of green and a peculiar shade of pink. (3.69)

Why do you think the other mother makes Coraline's other room this way? What about Coraline's room at home makes the beldam think she'd prefer it this way?

Coraline woke up in the night. She went into her parents' bedroom, but the bed was made and empty. The glowing green numbers on the digital clock glowed 3:12 A.M. (5.22)

The imagery of her parents' empty bedroom highlights just how alone Coraline is, even in her own home. As cozy and inviting as a home is, an empty home can be equally as scary and unwelcoming.

She crept back into the silent house, past the closed bedroom door inside which the other mother and the other father [...] what? she wondered. Slept? Waited? (5.145)

The other parents' mysterious bedroom is in sharp contrast with the bedroom of Coraline's real parents, a place that she can go into as she pleases and where she can even sleep.

For a moment she felt utterly dislocated. She did not know where she was; she was not entirely sure <em>who</em> she was. It is astonishing just how much of what we are can be tied to the beds we wake up in in the morning, and it is astonishing how fragile that can be. (6.2)

According to this narration, our identities is "tied to the beds we wake up in in the morning" – that is, our home. Would you be a different person if you'd grown up in a different house?

"Where's the other mother?" she asked the other father. [...]

"Out," he told her. "Fixing the doors. There are some vermin problems." He seemed pleased to have somebody to talk to. (6.11-12)

To some people, cats make a home a home. To other people, they make a home vermin-infested.

It seemed to Coraline that it was crouching, and staring down at her, as if it were not really a house but only the idea of a house – and the person who had had the idea, she was certain, was not a good person. (9.1)

As the other house begins to fall apart, it becomes personified, making it even more of a character in the story.

Once inside, in her flat, or rather, in the flat that was not hers, Coraline was pleased to see that it had not transformed into the empty drawing that the rest of the house seemed to have become. (11.1)

Coraline's sense of home is turned on its head: is this <em>her</em> flat or not?

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