Study Guide

The Graveyard Book Chapter 6

By Neil Gaiman

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Chapter 6

Nobody Owens' School Days

  • It’s a rainy day in the graveyard, and Bod is hiding out, reading.
  • Thackeray Porringer angrily seeks him out. Thackeray died holding a copy of the book Robinson Crusoe.
  • He wants to fight Bod for stealing his book. Bod tells him he’s just borrowing it.
  • Thackeray won’t take no for an answer, so Bod gives it back.
  • Then he punches Bod in the ear anyway.
  • After this, Bod runs into two residents of the graveyard. They tell him that Silas is looking for him.
  • Bod is surprised to hear this, because it’s still light out, and (as we know) Silas is usually only up at night. Apparently, Silas is up early today.
  • Bod finds him inside the chapel. Silas tells Bod that now that he’s been living at the graveyard for eleven years, it’s time for him to know about his past.
  • He tells Bod that his mother, father, and older sister were all murdered when he was a baby. The man who killed them wants to kill Bod too. That’s why it’s not safe for him to leave the graveyard.
  • This last bit doesn’t bother Bod – he says he won’t mind being dead. After all, his best friends are dead people. Silas explains that since Bod is alive, he can do anything he wants – anything he can imagine. When he’s dead, everything will stay the same for him.
  • Silas explains that when creatures like himself die, they just stop existing, unlike what happens to humans when they die.
  • Suddenly, Bod tells Silas he wants to go to school.
  • Silas looks totally shocked and tells Bod it’s not safe.
  • Bod tells Silas that he’s got it all wrong. If a man killed Bod’s family, it’s not Bod that’s in danger from the man. The man is in danger from Bod.
  • Silas gives in, and Bod gets to go to school.
  • At school, Bod uses all his fading skills to make sure he doesn’t get noticed.
  • The teachers forget about him and he isn’t officially listed as a student or on the rolls. Bod keeps to himself and just studies and reads a lot. The children don’t even remember him when they don’t see him.
  • There’s a pair of bullies at Bod’s school. Maureen “Mo” Quilling and Nick Farthing.
  • They especially like bullying kids into shoplifting small items. They get everything on video and threaten to show the evidence to the police if the kids don’t give them their lunch money.
  • Mo is the boss – she tells Nick what to do.
  • Bod goes up to a boy named Paul Singh, one of Nick and Mo’s victims, and gives him advice.
  • Bod says Paul should refuse to give up his lunch money, and threaten to tell the police about their whole plan if they bother him again. Paul decides to take Bod’s advice even though he is afraid.
  • Bod’s plan works and five of the other victims go up to Mo and Nick and demand all their lunch money back too.
  • Mo knows that Bod is the reason their whole plan is ruined, but Nick didn’t even notice him until Mo points him out. They want to make Bod pay.
  • Bod sees them following him after school and he leads them to a little graveyard behind a church. He waits for them next to the shared grave of Roderick Persson, his first wife Amabella, and his second wife Portunia. (Hmmm.)
  • Mo and Nick see him and start threatening him.
  • He tells them that he brought them to the graveyard on purpose.
  • He says, “You two need to stop this. Stop behaving like other people don’t matter. Stop hurting people” (6.132).
  • Nick tries to hit Bod, but slams the gravestone instead. Suddenly, Bod is just gone. Mo has a much more active imagination than Nick, and she starts getting scared in the creepy graveyard.
  • The shadows around them actually seem to be moving.
  • Nick finally gets scared when he notices that Mo is afraid. It’s dark now and they run away in terror.
  • The Persson family wakes up and talks to Bod. He’s surprised to learn they’ve heard of him.
  • He didn’t know he was famous outside of his own graveyard.
  • Amabella and Portunia argue about whether Bod should “Dreamwalk” (6.156) on Mo and Nick or give them a “Visitation” (6.159).
  • Before Bod leaves, Roderick asks if Silas is doing OK. He’s heard of Silas but hasn’t met the guy. He says, “we’re never going to meet an actual member of the Honor Guard” (6.164).
  • (A-ha! Silas is a member of the Honor Guard – whatever that is.)
  • Bod doesn’t understand this information, but saves it away for later when he might be able to get what Roderick means.
  • Back at school, Nick stabs Bod in the hand with a pencil, and Nick and Mo tell him they aren’t scared of him. He realizes that the students are aware of him now – so much for keeping a low profile.
  • When he tells Silas about Nick and Mo, and about the other kids starting to notice him, Silas gets really angry – like steam blowing out of his ears angry – and orders Bod to quit school. Bod refuses.
  • They argue and Bod storms out of the graveyard. Silas almost follows him, but stops himself.
  • A little while later, Nick is having a dream that he’s the captain on a pirate ship. All the kids from school are there and he’s the boss of them.
  • But then the dream changes, and a scary, dark ship is suddenly coming at him. The dead-looking captain of that ship is standing above him, staring down at him.
  • Bod tells him that if he doesn’t stop his evil ways, Bod might come back to his dream and let the things Nick’s most afraid of – which happens to be spiders – do what they want to him.
  • Of course, Bod provides some creepy, spidery sound effect to really drive his point home.
  • It must have worked because when Nick wakes up, he’s screaming his head off.
  • Bod, who’s on the sidewalk outside Nick’s house, feels good when he hears the scream.
  • He doesn’t notice Mo watching him from her window, though.
  • As he walks away, Liza comes up to him. She’s mad because he’s run away from the graveyard without even telling anybody good-bye, including his mother, Mrs. Owens.
  • Oops. Bod had forgotten about her.
  • Liza reminds him that Silas is just trying to protect him from the man who wants him dead. He should come home.
  • Bod is worried that Silas won’t want him back because of the mean things Bod said.
  • Liza assures him that Silas cares too much about him to mind all that.
  • So Bod heads back to the graveyard.
  • Before he gets there, a police car rolls up and says they’re picking him up for being out too late.
  • When they put him in back of the police car, who does he find there, waiting for him?
  • None other than Mo Quilling.
  • She called her policeman uncle and had them pick up Bod, accusing him of being the neighborhood window breaker.
  • After they drop off Mo at home, Bod starts getting really worried.
  • Here’s what Bod sees out his window:
  • “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).
  • (Who do you think it could be?)
  • Bod realizes the police are using the good cop/bad cop routine on him, trying to scare him.
  • Suddenly, there’s a loud noise – the car hits something.
  • The policemen stop and get out to see what they hit.
  • It’s a man. It’s Silas!
  • Bod bangs on the window until one of the policemen come over to him. Then he says, “You hit my – my dad” (6.282).
  • Now Bod starts threatening them. He says that the one policeman, Mo’s uncle, arrested Bod for no reason, and then hit his dad with the car and killed him, all because Bod and Mo are fighting at school. They’re in big trouble now.
  • The policeman says he didn’t know Mo and Bod were fighting. He and the other policeman walk away to talk about their situation.
  • Silas and Bod take advantage of the situation to disappear into the night. Silas flies Bod back to the graveyard.
  • They apologize to each other and Bod asks Silas if he’s hurt.
  • He’s in pain, for sure, but there’s no way he could have died. People like Silas can be killed, but not by moving vehicles.
  • Bod decides that he definitely shouldn’t go back to school now.
  • Mo is having a really crappy week. Nick won’t talk to her, and her uncle (the policeman) and her parents are mad at her. She wants to find Bod and make him pay. She knows this is all his fault.
  • She doesn’t have to wait long to see him. Today’s her day to clean up the science lab. While she’s in there, Bod comes in, but she doesn’t see him – she just feels his eyes on her.
  • When the dead creatures in the test tubes start coming alive, Mo’s fears come alive too.
  • Bod tells Mo he’s leaving school, and he threatens to “haunt” (6.432) her for the rest of her life.
  • Back at the graveyard, Bod and Silas decide that from now on, they’ll find ways for Bod to be in the world and among people without being in a dangerous place like school.

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