Study Guide

The Graveyard Book Chapter 2

By Neil Gaiman

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Chapter 2

The New Friend

  • Nobody, whose nickname is “Bod,” is basically a quiet kid who does what he’s told.
  • But now that he knows how to talk, he asks questions all the time. The dead don’t give him straight answers, but Silas does.
  • One of the main questions he asks is why he can’t leave the graveyard. Fair enough.
  • Silas explains that the only safe place for Bod is in the graveyard.
  • Bod argues that Silas gets to go outside the graveyard every single night. Well, Silas, tells him, it’s because he’s safe everywhere. Bod, on the other hand, is safe only in the graveyard.
  • (Notice that Bod doesn’t have any idea what happened to his family, and doesn’t have any idea why he’s in danger.)
  • Bod also wants to learn how to do the things the dead do. Silas says, “Some skills can be attained by education, and some by practice, and some by time” (2.10).
  • If Bod studies, he’ll learn lots of things, including “Fading and Sliding and Dreamwalking” (2.10). (We’ll learn about these skills very soon.)
  • Silas explains that having Freedom of the Graveyard gives Bod some special abilities, like being able to see in the dark, and being able to walk through walls and such. Plus, people who are alive will have a hard time seeing him.
  • Bod is always asking about who’s buried in the different graves. Silas uses this question to begin Bod’s education. He teaches Bod to read using the gravestones, and soon Bod can see for himself who’s buried in them.
  • During the day, Bod copies down the words on the gravestones and at night, when Silas is wake, Silas helps Bod read them. Silas also brings Bod some ABC books, and Dr. Seuss’s The Cat in The Hat.
  • Copying from the graves becomes one of Bod’s daily activities, and he gets better and better at reading and writing.
  • One sunny day, Bod is practicing his reading and writing in the graveyard when a little girl pops up in front of him.
  • Meet Scarlett Amber Perkins, five years old. (Bod is about four years old in this chapter, by the way.)
  • Scarlett’s mother is reading by the chapel and she let Scarlett play in the cemetery, which is also a nature preserve.
  • Bod lets Scarlett help him copy down the words from the graves.
  • After Scarlett tells her mom about Bod, her mom and dad believe he’s her imaginary friend.
  • Still, they bring her to the graveyard whenever the weather is nice enough, and she and Bod play.
  • One day, Scarlett wants to know who the oldest person in the graveyard is.
  • Bod is pretty sure it’s Caius. That night, he goes to Caius and asks him.
  • Caius, a Roman, says there were people here (somewhere in the United Kingdom) before the Romans and even before the Celts. (For more on the Romans and the Celts, click here.)
  • One of those people is buried inside the hill in the graveyard, but Caius doesn’t know who he was.
  • Long ago, a man found the entrance and went inside. When he came out, his hair was completely white. After that, another man, seeking treasure (because sometimes people are buried with their treasure) went inside. He never came out at all.
  • Caius says he can feel that whatever’s buried in the hill is “waiting” (2.117) but he doesn’t know what for.
  • The next time Scarlett comes to the graveyard, Bod offers to take her inside the hill to see where the oldest resident of the graveyard lives. She agrees.
  • To get to the barrow (the place where the oldest resident of the graveyard is buried) Bod and Scarlett walk up the hill and enter a small mausoleum (a building that has one or more tombs inside it).
  • Behind a coffin, they find the hole that will take them inside the hill.
  • Bod climbs in, but Scarlett is afraid to go into the hole, because, unlike Bod, she can’t see in the dark. Right.
  • But, when Bod says he’ll hold her hand and describe everything to her, she climbs in after him.
  • He tells her it’s OK to stand up, and then leads her down a stone stairway, deeper and deeper into the hill.
  • Bod tells Scarlett they’re coming to a room. He decides not to tell her there are ancient bones on the ground, and – a dead body.
  • It’s probably the body of the man Caius told him about – the one who went into the hill looking for treasure and never came out.
  • Looks like he slipped and fell and died. Great. Yeah, we’d leave that one out too.
  • Scarlett and Bod hear a slithering sound and then they both see a dead guy. He has purple markings all over him and is called the Indigo Man. He says he’s the guard of the place.
  • Bod tells the Indigo Man he has Freedom of the Graveyard. Usually, this works to calm the grumpiest graveyard-ian. But not this time! The Indigo Man doesn’t move.
  • When Bod learns that Scarlett can see the Indigo Man, but can’t see the dead body on the floor, he realizes that the Indigo Man is “imaginary” (2.183). After a little convincing, Scarlett agrees with Bod, comparing the Indigo Man to a scarecrow.
  • (This is a little confusing. The Indigo Man can scare them, but can’t do anything to hurt them. For more on this, check out “Characters: The Indigo Man.”)
  • When the Indigo Man realizes that Bod and Scarlett aren’t scared of him anymore, he goes and lies down.
  • Now Scarlett can’t see anything – but she can hear that creepy slithering sound again.
  • A scratchy, old voice, voices actually, say “WE ARE THE SLEER” (2.195).
  • Scarlett can’t hear it. Bod asks the Sleer some questions and learns that it guards “THE RESTING PLACE OF THE MASTER” (2.202), and “THE BROOCH, THE GOBLET, AND THE KNIFE” (2.206) that were buried with the master.
  • Bod sees those things there on the floor. They don’t look very valuable to him.
  • Ugh – his head feels like it’s been invaded by spider webs.
  • He tells Scarlett they should get out of here now.
  • They climb back up the stairs, and finally exit the hill. Before they even get a chance to talk about their adventure, they’re faced with a huge uproar .
  • Scarlett’s parents called the police when they couldn’t find her, and now there are police in the graveyard looking for her.
  • Bod watches the scene without anybody noticing him, while Scarlett describes her adventure to her parents and the police.
  • It’s a hectic scene, with all kinds of crying and arguments. Bod watches for as long as he can, and then goes to find Silas.
  • Bod feels terrible that Scarlett is in so much trouble when it’s really all his fault. He tells Silas a little about the adventure. Silas is pretty sure Bod will never see Scarlett again.
  • But he’s wrong. Scarlett does come back to the graveyard, three weeks later.
  • She’s come to tell Bod good-bye. Her dad got a job in Scotland and they’re moving.
  • Scarlett predicts that Bod will be able to leave the graveyard one day. He says the graveyard is the only place he’s safe.
  • The last thing Scarlett says to Bod:
  • “You’re brave. You are the bravest person I know and you are my friend. I don’t care if you are imaginary” (2.251).

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