Study Guide

Meggie in Inkheart

By Cornelia Funke

Meggie

Bookworm Girl

We know that Meggie is majorly into books: she sleeps with a book under her pillow at night (1.2), and she comes from a bookworm family. We also know that "Meggie had inherited her love of books from her father" (1.7). Is there a gene for that? Either way, Meggie and her dad, Mo, live together in a house that is literally filled with books:

Stacks of books were piled high all over the house—not just arranged in neat rows on bookshelves, the way other people kept them, oh no! The books in Mo and Meggie's house were stacked under tables, on chairs, and in corners of the rooms. There were books in the kitchen and books in the lavatory. Books on the TV set and in the closet, small piles of books, tall piles of books, books old and new. (1.16)

We're all about books too, but we're beginning to wonder if this house isn't a prime location for the next episode of Hoarders. It isn't surprising that these two people who lives surrounded by books share plenty of inside jokes that are based on books they've both read. For instance, Mo makes a noise like a ticking clock based on the crocodile from Peter Pan, and Meggie remembers how:

He had woken her up often enough with that ticking sound, right beside her ear, so close that it tickled […].

Mo knew she would recognize the ticking that helped Peter Pan to go aboard Captain Hook's ship and rescue Wendy. He couldn't have given a better signal. (56.21-22)

This is particularly brilliant since Capricorn and his henchman, coming from another story-world, obviously wouldn't recognize a motif from another book.

As another example of her book nerd status, Meggie can read Elvish from The Lord of the Rings, and she and Mo use this script to communicate secretly (42.62). If that doesn't signal a bookworm, we don't know what does—Elvish isn't exactly something one picks up by accident, after all.

Why is this bookishness a big deal? Meggie's at home around books and has a deep knowledge of literature, and so it's especially appropriate that her superpower—the ability to read people/objects out of books—revolves around the written word.

Plus, though we're not sure whether only people who love literature can become readers, everyone we've seen do it so far (Mo, Meggie, and Darius) seems to have a gift for creating vivid images with their voices when reading aloud—and that seems like the kind of thing you can only do if you love what you're reading. So we're thinking that if Meggie didn't love books so much, or grow up surrounded by them, she might not've become a reader, which by the end of Inkheart is a huge part of her identity (and our plot).

Daddy's Girl

Meggie's super attached to her dad, Mo. When Basta and his men take Mo away, Meggie freaks out and tries to run after their car:

Meggie ran that way. She tripped and fell, grazing her knee on the gravel, which was wet with dew. Warm blood trickled down her leg but she took no notice. She ran on and on, limping and sobbing, until she had reached the big wrought iron gate. The road beyond it was empty. Mo was gone. (6.78)

Every time Mo and Meggie are separated, she gets super angsty. It's like she doesn't even know how to function without her dad around.

The affection Meggie has for her dad is pretty obvious to everyone she comes in contact with, and Dustfinger notices how she looks at Mo "as if he could protect her from all the dark and evil in the world" (11.3). Since Meggie has only had Mo around throughout her childhood, it could be that she's become super attached to him, to the point of putting him on a pedestal as Dad of the Year. Every year. It's pretty easy to do when you've grown up with only one parent.

So what about Meggie's mom? She vanished when Meggie was three, so Meggie barely remembers her (even though she looks like her): "Meggie had fair hair like her mother, whom she knew only from a few faded photographs" (1.73). Meggie doesn't remember her mom enough to really miss her—but once she begins to suspect that her mom is actually Resa, one of Capricorn's (captive) servants, she gets all fired up about reconnecting. More on this later.

Stubborn, Clever, and Idealistic

Meggie is pretty stubborn. So when Dustfinger asks Mo for a ride south in the beginning of the book, Meggie gets fed up with not knowing what's going on. She leaps out of the van and refuses to get back in until Mo fills her in, shouting:

I want to know what's going on! […] I want to know why we had to get up at five o'clock and why I don't have to go to school. I want to know if we're ever coming back, and I want to know who this Capricorn is! (3.24)

Other kids might just be happy that they're skipping school, but nope, Meggie has to know why. This girl knows something is up, and she's not going to just follow along blindly as the drama unfolds.

Elinor remarks that Meggie is "Pigheaded" (5.13), just the same as her mother was; and Meggie also isn't particularly tactful. So when Elinor wears something particularly ugly—"an unattractive checked skirt and a caramel-colored sweater that made her look as pale as dough" (9.34)—Meggie flat out says, "You dress like an old granny" (9.35). Oops.

The fact that Meggie is rude though, in addition to smart and determined, means that she's not perfect—and this helps us relate to her. After all, don't you have some strengths and some weaknesses? In stories where the protagonist is super pure and perfect—like, say, the saccharinely sweet Sarah from A Little Princess—it can be hard for us as readers to identify with them. So though she can be a little harsh, it's ultimately really great that our girl Meggie struggles in the manners department.

Plus there is so much that's awesome about Meggie. She's quick-thinking, which we see when Capricorn is beginning to act as though Elinor is disposable and Meggie explains that Elinor is actually very useful because she knows so many books—especially books with treasure in them. Way to save the day, right?

And that's one of the great things about Meggie as a character. She has isn't just some helpless kid caught up in events—she has qualities that enable her to save her friends and family, and empower her to be the hero of her own story. Yay.

The Reader

Other than being safely reunited with her dad, there's only one thing Meggie really wants—except she has trouble admitting it even to herself:

Ever since she had seen the lizard crawl out of the golden coins in Capricorn's church she couldn't help thinking about it. I wish I could do that, her thoughts had kept saying to her, very quietly […] I'd like to bring them out of books, touch them, all those characters, all those wonderful characters. I want them to come out of the pages and sit beside me, I want them to smile at me, I want, I want, I want… (19.109)

On the one hand, this is pretty typical only-child stuff: the desire for friends and companions. On the other hand though, this is a pretty strong wish for Meggie, because it's something her thoughts return to again and again—and because she knows how dangerous reading characters out of books can be.

Meggie does, in fact, become a reader like her dad, which has mixed results. By the end of the book, though, she reaches a decision about her life plan:

She wanted to learn to make up stories like Fenoglio. She wanted to learn to fish for words so that she could read aloud to her mother without worrying about who might come out of the stories and look at her with homesick eyes. So Meggie decided words would be her trade. (59.27)

Take it from us: writing is hard work. Because Meggie is so determined and smart, though, we have faith that she'll make it as a writer if she sticks with it.

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