Study Guide

Howl's Moving Castle The Home

By Diana Wynne Jones

The Home

A lot of the homes in Howl's Moving Castle clearly match the people they belong to. Howl is constantly changing his positions and his ideas—and so he lives in a moving castle. The Witch is totally socially isolated (primarily because she is a deranged monster), so it's perfect that her fortress is in the middle of a totally empty wasteland.

But perhaps the best example of this home-matching-personality thing is Sophie's family's house in Market Chipping. When Howl buys up the old hat shop and house after Fanny marries Mr. Sacheverell Smith, he, Calcifer, and Michael physically transport the moving castle from Howl's old house in Porthaven to Sophie's old house in Market Chipping. Once the castle has been moved Sophie can still see the outlines of her old family home, but the house has been permanently changed by its exposure to Howl's moving castle, just as Sophie herself has been permanently changed by her experiences with Howl himself.

Questions About The Home

  1. In what ways does Howl's moving castle appear to represent Howl himself? How do you picture the castle? What aspects of its design and architecture do you find most interesting?
  2. Are there any homes in this book that do not reflect something about their residents? If so, whose? If not, why do you think Howl's Moving Castle use the home as a characterization tool?
  3. We've been talking about houses under this theme of home, but what other elements of the home become important in this novel? What elements make a space seem homey for the characters?

Chew on This

If Howl's castle represents aspects of Howl's personality, then Sophie's changes to Howl's castle as she takes responsibility for it symbolize the growing friendship and trust developing between Sophie and Howl.

The one home in Howl's Moving Castle that does not reflect anything personal about its occupant is the King's Palace in Kingsbury; this choice emphasizes that the King is important primarily in terms of his official position rather than because of his emotional state or interests.

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