Study Guide

Here Be Monsters! An Adventure Involving Magic, Trolls, and Other Creatures; The Ratbridge Chronicles Volume 1 Courage

By Alan Snow

Courage

Arthur put the doll away and wound his wings again. Here at last was a chance for some real adventure. (3.23)

Now that Arthur's spotted the illicit Cheese Hunt and communicated with Grandfather about it, he gets to go check it out. For a boy who's spent most of his life living underground, this is pretty exciting, but it also must also take a lot of courage to go investigate something potentially dangerous like this.

"I wonder what our next step is?"

"Storm them with grappling hooks!" said Bert enthusiastically. (18.19-20)

It turns out that the crew of the Ratbridge Nautical Laundry is pretty fearless. Maybe it comes from their piratical past, or maybe they're all fairly brave individuals. Whatever the reason, when there's a conflict, they often suggest solutions like grappling hooks and cannonballs.

"Tom!" Arthur whispered excitedly. "Can you distract the horse? I am going to see if I can get inside the Cheese Hall."

Tom hesitated. "It's too dangerous, Arthur!" (19.47-48)

Trying to sneak inside the Cheese Hall alone does, in fact, seem pretty risky. But that doesn't deter Arthur, now does it? He's worried about his underling friends trapped inside, and he also wants in on the adventure. So maybe it's not the smartest move, but calculating the riskiness of it doesn't scare off Arthur.

He held the knife to the string, and as Snatcher's belly moved, the knife cut slowly into the string. The string separated, and for a moment Snatcher's belly wobbled. Arthur held his breath. (25.48)

So here Arthur is stealing the keys from Snatcher's belt as he snoozes. Is this the act of a coward? We didn't think so. Arthur is acting super bravely here, and it's a selfless kind of bravery, too. Yeah, he's trapped in the Cheese Hall, which stinks, but he's also really concerned about his captured underling friends.

"Does that mean we have to go down....below?" Gristle said with a grimace.

"Don't worry, Gristle. I am sure somebody will hold your hand." Snatcher smirked. Arthur noticed the other members also looked worried. (30.31-32)

Yeah, Gristle does sound a bit like a fraidy-cat in this exchange about having to make another trip to the Underworld. But can we really blame him? After all, the fact that they've trapped a bunch of boxtrolls means that the place is literally beginning to fall apart. And this is just a guess, but Snatcher might not be feeling as courageous as he's acting. He probably has enough sense to know when he's getting into a dangerous situation.

"Titus said that the cabbageheads that Arthur freed are going to go with them, but that he himself would like to stay with us and help find Arthur." Willbury clasped Titus's hand. "You are very brave, Titus." (35.32)

It's been established that cabbageheads are very shy creatures; most humans don't ever see them, that's how reclusive they are. And based on this, we're guessing that they're not the bravest of critters either. But here we see Titus volunteering to be part of the rescue operation to get Arthur out of the Cheese Hall where he's being held captive. Is that brave, or what?

He looked fondly at Arthur; then his expression grew more serious. "I'm not going to stop you from going back with the others to the Cheese Hall, but please think about it." (47.29)

Oh man. They've just gotten Grandfather out of his flooded underground home, and he's just now been reunited with Arthur… and Arthur's about to head into battle to stop Snatcher's evil plan to take over Ratbridge. Talk about tense. Grandfather asks Arthur to consider staying back, but Arthur asserts his desire to go and see things through. Again, we're totally in awe of Arthur's bravery.

Encouraged by the obvious fear they were generating, Snatcher chuckled to himself. He hadn't felt this good in years….or ever! Life felt wonderful. (50.3)

Snatcher is like a fear-vampire. When he notices how afraid the townsfolk are of his giant rat and his minion army, he gets this enthusiastic high feeling. But we're thinking that someone who feeds on fear isn't automatically brave themselves—if anything, it makes Snatcher the opposite. When you feel good about someone else's fear, you're probably hiding some deep-down fears yourself.

"Master!" cried Gristle with fright in his voice. "Something weird is 'appenin'…"

"Stand firm!" ordered Snatcher, but the terrified members were now letting go of their blunderbusses and untying their ammunition bags from their belts to avoid being dragged across the square. (50.21-22)

Gristle and the rest of Snatcher's crew seem to lose all courage when their weapons malfunction during their assault on Ratbridge. It doesn't seem to occur to them at first that this is simple magnetism at work; instead, they freak out and try to save their skins. Their courage, if only propped up by holding weapons, doesn't seem so real anymore.

Just as Arthur was halfway across the entrance hall, he remembered the two mice in the bottle. He swirled around and landed by the door of Snatcher's suite, ran in, and grabbed the bottle from the table. As he ran back toward the front door, he was hit by a blast from behind. (52.2)

Arthur knows that the Cheese Hall is likely going to blow, but he lingers there because it occurs to him to rescue the two trapped mice. Would you call that brave? We sure would. It is a completely selfless act, one that puts him in danger, and he does it anyway. Don't mind us, we'll be over here starting a fan club for Arthur.

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