Study Guide

Inkheart Pride

By Cornelia Funke

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She would have loved to surprise Elinor by showing contempt for her precious books, but she couldn't do it. Her curiosity was too much for her…The temptation was stronger than Meggie's pride. (4.51)

Meggie prides herself on being quite grown-up for a twelve year old, as well as for being very knowledgeable about books, thanks to her dad's profession—she would never do something as dumb as deface or mistreat a book, even though Elinor apparently thinks of all persons under the age of eighteen as little monsters. Probably a lot of young readers of Inkheart feel like Meggie does—proud at being able to handle themselves maturely, and annoyed when they're misjudged.

"What about this book?" asked Meggie.

"I don't think this one was ever in a church," replied Elinor. "Most likely it was made for a very rich man to enjoy. It's almost six hundred years old." There was no missing the pride in her voice. (4.58-59)

Elinor is very proud of her book collection. She's managed to buy top-of-the-line antique books, rare books, and, well, pretty much every other kind of book too. She keeps her most treasured books in a gorgeous library, and she takes care to keep the books away from harmful things like sunlight and dust. It's just like anyone else who has a collection that they're proud of: nothing is too good for whatever thing they're proud of owning.

He made the fire climb high in the air, as if to set the stars alight. Then he lit a second torch and ran its flame over his bare arms. He looked as happy as a child playing with a pet animal. (6.50)

Even Dustfinger, who's so full of self-loathing and cowardice, knows that he's a pro when it comes to handling fire. We suspect that he's even a tiny bit proud of his skills. He knows he's competent and can put on a good show, and he doesn't really bother to hide it, though he still doesn't come across as arrogant nearly as much as other characters in the book do.

"Is that allowed, Mo?" asked Meggie quietly. "Putting up a statue of yourself in a church?" (17.20)

Erecting a statue of yourself is pretty darn vain… but doing so in a church? That takes the cake. This is a huge indication that Capricorn is proud, arrogant, vain—whatever word you like best that means full of yourself. It's good to know that the book's main villain has some flaws (like pride), but it's still a little strange to see just how much he's literally constructing himself as someone to worship.

"How did they find me? I wrote the book!" announced the old man proudly. (30.77)

Fenoglio is pretty proud when it comes to being a writer… and not just any writer, but the writer of Inkheart. In a previous conversation with Meggie and Mo, he also sounds proud of having created such awful, heartless villains, but this is, of course, before he's had to come face-to-face with them. The more Fenoglio sees of his villains, the less proud he feels of writing them, unfortunately.

"Oh, I was only thinking that vanity is one of the qualities I gave you, vanity and"—Fenoglio paused for effect before continuing—"and a few other weaknesses that I expect you'd rather I didn't mention in front of your henchman." (34.22)

In a fight between Fenoglio's vanity and Capricorn's vanity, we're not sure who we'd put our money on… but in this passage we just relish the fact that someone can finally check Capricorn for a moment.

"Your heart is a stone, Capricorn, a black stone with about as much human sympathy as a lump of coal, and you are very, very proud of that." (34.44)

Once again we see Fenoglio characterize Capricorn as proud, but now we see the specific source of Capricorn's pride: his heartlessness. Due to Capricorn's messed-up upbringing, he's come to value strength over compassion, and so he feels proud to be strong at the expense of compassion. That would certainly explain how he commits so many atrocious acts without any remorse.

Silvertongue looked at him with such obvious admiration that Farid blushed. "What an extraordinary fellow you are! Perhaps I should ask you how I'm going to get Meggie out of this village." (44.34)

Farid, clearly, is not used to praise. It seems like he's not used to feeling proud of his skills—when people notice him in the first place, that is. But Mo wouldn't be doing so hot on his own outside of Capricorn's village, and so he recognizes that Farid brings something valuable to the table. The real question is when Farid will begin to recognize—and take pride in—his own skills.

"Well, how about it?" inquired Dustfinger, taking a step back. "Do you dare come in here with me, or would you rather go on hitting little girls?" (49.37)

Dustfinger appeals to Basta's manly pride here by saying that Basta is not man enough to fight another man, instead preferring to beat up girls. This ploy works, showing us just how proud Basta is of his manly manliness.

She never knew how Dustfinger did it, but suddenly he had Basta's knife in his hand. Basta was staring at its familiar blade in amazement, as if he couldn't grasp the fact that the faithless thing was pointing at his own chest. (49.57)

Basta's pride turns out to be his undoing. He's so self-assured when it comes to combat and beating up helpless victims that he underestimates Dustfinger and Resa. Dustfinger's got some moves, like the disarming trick he pulls, and Resa is brave and skilled enough to take a shot at Basta's head with a stone from her pocket, stunning him long enough for Dustfinger to get the knife. Ah, excessive pride… why can't every villain suffer from this one?

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