Study Guide

Inkheart The Home

By Cornelia Funke

The Home

Yes, Meggie was fond of the van, but this morning she hesitated to get in. When Mo finally went back to the house to lock the door, she suddenly felt they would never come back here, that this journey was going to be different than any other, that they would drive farther and farther away, in flight of something that had no name. (2.41)

The old farmhouse where Mo and Meggie have been living for the last few years is as much of a home as Meggie's ever had… and now they're saying goodbye to it, at least for a while. Mo isn't telling Meggie the full story, and she knows it, so she's fearful that leaving home means they won't return for a good long while (or ever).

"I could never pass by a bookshop. The house where we lived was very small—we called it our shoebox, our mouse hole, we had all sorts of names for it—and that very day I'd bought yet another crate of books from a secondhand bookseller." (16.3)

Mo is definitely a book-lover, and his home reflects it. Not much money for rent? No problem. So long as there's enough space for books, books, and more books, then Mo is cool. Same goes for his wife, apparently, though Meggie doesn't really remember her mom.

"No doubt Capricorn promised to take him back," he said. "Unlike me, he realized that Dustfinger would do anything in return for such a promise. All he wants to do is go back to his own world. He doesn't even stop to ask if his story there has a happy ending!" (16.32)

Mo knows that Dustfinger was super-attached to the idea of going home to his own story, but he doesn't realize the extent of that desire until Capricorn uses it to manipulate Dustfinger into doing his bidding. Again Dustfinger comes across as pretty darn desperate to get home, regardless of the consequences for other people or for himself (because as we learn later, he doesn't make it to the end of the story alive).

"What's this about, Elinor?" she had muttered when she was back in the car. "Since when did you long for human company? High time you were home again, before you go right around the bend." (28.3)

Elinor's home is packed with books, but not with people. She doesn't welcome visitors, nor is she a people-person in general, so after her adventure with Mo and Meggie, she's eager to get home to have some peace and quiet… except for how she sometimes catches herself missing conversations and human contact.

Why had she never noticed before how quiet her house could be? It was silent as the grave, and the pleasure Elinor had expected to feel as soon as she was back within her own four walls was slow in coming. (28.6)

Sometimes we model our homes after what we think we want, only to discover that what we actually want is quite different. We're not thinking Elinor is going to say, "Gee, how foolish I was for surrounding myself with books for so long!" and go hog-wild on flat-screen TVs and Elvis paraphernalia instead, but she might decide to make her home a little more inviting to, ya know, other human beings (and non-humans, as we'll see in the story's end).

"I'm not going to be here much longer anyway!" snapped Dustfinger. "Now that I have the book I will look for someone who can read me into it again, even if it's a stammerer like Darius who sends me home with a lame leg or a squashed face." (58.36)

This gives us a glimpse at how desperate Dustfinger is to get home. He doesn't care if the person he finds to read him back into Inkheart is incompetent, which carries with it the health risks of not being assembled right during the crossing from our world to the story.

It's a world full of terror and beauty… and I could always understand why Dustfinger felt homesick for it. The last sentence worried Meggie, but when she looked anxiously at her mother, Teresa smiled and reached for her hand.

I was far, far more homesick for you two, she wrote on the palm of it, and Meggie closed her fingers over the words as if to hold them fast. (59.11-12)

Meggie's mom kinda understands what Dustfinger is going through with all that homesickness, but she doesn't want to give the impression that she herself wasn't homesick at all. Of course she missed her husband and daughter while she was stuck in the Inkheart world.

Elinor had decided to offer a home, or "asylum," as she put it, to all the strange creatures who had landed in her world. "After all," she said, "many people have little enough patience or understanding for their fellow human beings who are only superficially different than them—so how would it be for little people with blue skins who can fly?" (59.14)

Elinor hits the nail on the head: It's tough to make a home for yourself in a place where people misunderstand you or judge you according to stereotypes. It happens to plenty of folks in our world, and so Elinor imagines that it'll happen to folks not from our world too.

It took some time for them all to understand Elinor's offer—which was, of course, also made to the men, women, and children out of the book—but most of them decided to stay in Capricorn's village. It obviously reminded them of a home that their earlier death had almost made them forget, and, of course, they could use the treasure that Meggie told the children must still be lying in the cellars of Capricorn's house. (59.15)

Maybe Dustfinger isn't the only non-evil character out of Inkheart to feel kinda homesick—the regular people who'd been consumed by the Shadow probably also feel at least a little out of place in our world. Luckily they can settle down in a village that's typical of the landscape they came from. And having a little moolah to help with rebuilding expenses never hurts.

Oddly enough, she felt more homesick for Elinor's house than for the old farmhouse where she and Mo had lived for the last few years. (59.19)

Maybe Meggie has started to think of Elinor as family, or maybe Meggie associates Elinor's house with learning the truth about her own family as well as the beginnings of this whole adventure. For whatever reason, Meggie has a new idea of home now, and fortunately this time it includes her father and her mother, not to mention Elinor and a host of magical critters.

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