Study Guide

The Graveyard Book Compassion and Forgiveness

By Neil Gaiman

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Compassion and Forgiveness

In a voice like the chiming of a hundred tiny silver bells she said only, “The dead should have charity.” And she smiled. (1.161)

The Lady on the Grey only appears on very special occasions. Here, we can see how compassion can be contagious. When someone in a high position like the Lady sets a good example, many others will follow.

“It’s the first nice thing anybody’s done for me in five hundred years,” she said, with a hint of a goblin smile. (4.224)

Bod shows compassion for Liza by actually doing something that will make her feel better (in this case, getting her a headstone). It’s one thing to feel bad for somebody, and another thing to take the time and effort to do something to really help him or her. He definitely gets an A+ in compassion here

“If I go out into the world the question isn’t ‘who will keep me safe from him?’”
“It’s ‘who will keep him safe from me?’” (6.60-6.62)

Compassion and forgiveness is definitely not on Bod’s mind here, when he learns that Jack killed his family. We didn’t really expect him to feel any.

“You’re missing the point, I’m afraid. You two need to stop this. Stop behaving like other people don’t matter. Stop hurting people.” (6.132)

Bod tries to get the school bullies to have a little compassion for others. When they won’t, he scares them into giving in.  We’re not sure that’s the best way for Bod to use his <em>own</em> compassion, but oh well.  You have to start somewhere.

The noise got louder – a scuttling sort of scuffling noise – and while Nick Farthing had no idea what it was, he was utterly, completely certain that whatever it would turn out to be would be the most scary terrible thing he ever – would ever – encounter. (6.214)

We know that Scarlett doesn’t approve of Bod feeding Jack Frost to the Sleer. Would she approve of Bod going into Nick’s dream in this way? Do you approve?

She said, “You aren’t a person. People don’t behave like you. You’re as bad as he was. You’re a monster.” (7.772)

With her strong comment, Scarlett makes readers ask themselves if Bod could have handled Jack Frost in a less cruel, way more forgiving way.

“People want to forget the impossible. It makes their worlds safer.” (7.790)

Silas is saying that erasing Scarlett’s memory is an act of kindness. He’s saying that everything she saw in the graveyard could be way too much for her to deal with. What do you think?

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