Study Guide

The Graveyard Book Community

By Neil Gaiman

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“Mrs. Owens and her husband have taken the child under their protection. It will take more than just a couple of good hearted souls to raise this child. It will,” said Silas, “take a graveyard.” (1.108)

This is a play on the saying that it takes a whole village to raise a child. That just means that it's not only parents who raise kids, but everyone in a community – the aunts, uncles, grandparents, neighbors, teachers…everyone in a community. Does it take the whole graveyard to raise Bod?  What do you think?

That Silas had volunteered to be the boy’s guardian had weight – Silas was regarded with a certain awe by the graveyard folk, existing as he did on the borderland between their world and the world they had left. (1.153)

Silas is a member of the Honor Guard and, as Bod finds out when he visits a smaller graveyard, Silas is respected outside his own graveyard. He’s a figure who commands respect all throughout the whole dead community.

“You aren’t allowed out of the graveyard […] because it’s only in the graveyard that we can keep you safe. This is where you live and where those who love you can be found. Outside would not be safe for you. Not yet.” (2.4)

Bod wants to experience what people are like outside the graveyard. Even though this feeling never goes away, he learns to be happy at home and to really appreciate all that his little graveyard family has to offer.

“There’s rules for those in graveyards, but not for those as was buried in unhallowed ground. Nobody tells <em>me</em> what to do, or where to go.” (4.182)

Liza is an outcast, rejected by the group of dead people buried inside the graveyard. Bod doesn’t care about these differences, and his open-mindedness is rewarded with friendship.

They walked down the hill in a slow procession, all stepping gravely, all in time, filling the road, five abreast. (5.117)

We love this line. It’s the dead walking down the hill to join the living to dance the Macabray. It’s all so very <em>Night of the Living Dead</em> all of a sudden, as we see the live people briefly shocked by this, um, mixed group of people.

Bod had allowed himself no friends among the living. That way, he had realized during his short lived school days, lay only trouble. Still, he had remembered Scarlett, had missed her for years after she went away, had long ago faced the fact that he would never see her again. (7.134)

Bod hasn’t run up against the nicest humans during his little trips out of the graveyard. But his memories of his early friendship with Scarlett help him know that there are some good folks out there too.

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