Study Guide

The Graveyard Book The Supernatural

By Neil Gaiman

The Supernatural

He couldn’t push the minds of the dead as he could the living, but he could use all the tools of flattery he possessed, for the dead are not immune to either. (1.112)

Silas makes Jack Frost forget all about the possibility of Bod being in the graveyard the night Jack kills Bod’s family. Silas also wipes Scarlett’s memory, and hypnotizes her mother into moving back to Scotland. Kind of scary, isn’t it?

Some skills can be attained by education, and some by practice, and some by time. Those skills will come if you study. Soon enough you will master Fading and Sliding and Dreamwalking. (2.10)

Fading and Sliding are supernatural powers Bod can only use in the graveyard, with some exceptions. When he leaves the graveyard to see the world at the end of the book, we don’t think he can take those skills with him. Dreamwalking, on the other hand, seems like the type of power Bod might be able to keep. What do you think?

“You were given Freedom of the Graveyard […]. So the graveyard is taking care of you. While you are here, you can see in the darkness. You can walk some of the ways that the living should not travel. The eyes of the living will slip from you. (2.10)

Nice! Bod gets to move through walls…though only when he’s in the graveyard.

“There’s atoms, which is things that is too small to see, that’s what we’re all made of. And there’s things that’s smaller than atoms. That’s particle physics.”

Bod nodded and decided that Scarlett’s father was probably interested in imaginary things. (2.65-2.67)

The novel seems to be making the point that we accept the things scientists tell us, even when we can’t see those things with our own eyes. Yet, many scientists deny that creatures like the ones in this novels exist, and call them imaginary.

“Are we going to the wall of graves?”

“The ghoul-gates? No. Those are for ghouls. I am a Hound of God. I travel my own road, into Hell and out of it.” (3.247-3.248)

Bod actually goes to Hell and comes face-to-face with ghouls. From what we see, ghouls used to be ordinary humans, made into ghouls by some other ghoul. Miss Lupescu, a being who just screams “supernatural,” is free to travel in and out of all sorts of worlds and can never be touched by minor beasts like the ghouls.

Liza giggled again. Then she put her lips together and blew, making a noise that began as a whistling, and then sounded like a distant wind. The electric lights in the little room flickered and buzzed, then they went out. (4.245)

Liza pulls out all the typical ghost effects to try to scare Abanazer Bolger when he holds Bod hostage. Bolger doesn’t seem to be believe in ghosts – he comes up with rational explanations for all her efforts.

“Something huge was flying through the air […] something bigger and darker than the biggest bird. Something man-size that flickered and fluttered as it moved, like the strobing flight of a bat.” (6.268)

We love this passage because it gives us a vivid picture of Silas flying through the sky to get to Bod.

Bod leaned down to push his head into the grave and call his friend, but instead of his head slipping through the solid matter like a shadow passing through a deeper shadow, his head met the ground with a hard and painful thump. (8.7)

It’s painful to watch (and to experience) Bod losing his Freedom of the Graveyard powers. He’s gotten so used to them, he can’t quite understand why they’re suddenly going away. It’s OK, though, because he’s losing his powers since he doesn’t need them anymore – he’s finally free to leave the graveyard.

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