Study Guide

The Ocean at the End of the Lane Chapter 10

By Neil Gaiman

Chapter 10

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  • He has horrible dreams that night, but can't for the life of him remember what they were—all he knows is that he wishes life could go back to normal.
  • When he wakes up there are strange, old-fashioned clothes laid out for him, and the layout of the house has changed while he slept.
  • Ginnie tells him that Gran put a glamour on the clothes, so no one will notice how dated they are. She also explains that the flea isn't necessarily evil—she just wants to give everyone what they want, and she's only been mean to the boy because he was her door.
  • Lettie comes back from getting the supplies she'll need to send Ursula home (including a Mandrake—holla at us, Potter fans), and it looks like it's been a struggle.
  • The boy looks into her bag of supplies and sees that it's just a jumble of broken toys. Okay…
  • He and Lettie go down to her ocean to talk about monsters, and Ursula, and grown-ups.
  • Lettie says she knows what Ursula is scared of (which is making her so mean), and Lettie is scared of them too: varmints.
  • Apparently the broken toys help to stop things travelling when you don't want them to—they mark a boundary, in a way. So Lettie starts scattering them in strategic places around his yard.
  • His sister tells them that Ursula is upstairs taking a nap, so they head up to her room.
  • She's done some interesting re-decorating of his old room—now there are dozens of strips of gray, ragged cloth hanging from the ceiling. She's lying naked on the bed, but is awake when they walk in and doesn't seem to mind her nudeness.
  • Lettie tells Ursula that she has to go home, or to the closest place to home that still exists. She's even nicely brought along the "doorway" in the jam jar to help. This makes Ursula pretty mad, though.
  • The cloths start to detach from the ceiling and attach to the boy, and when he tries to pull them off they are so stuck that they rip away his skin, until eventually he's completely covered and immobilized on the floor.
  • Ursula threatens to turn Lettie inside-out and force her to spend the rest of her days wrapped up in the room, contemplating the darkness inside of her forever.
  • Lettie reveals that she knows Ursula's true name now, Skarthach of the Keep, and that although she knows she's just a harmless flea, they can't have her hanging around attracting varmints, since they eat fleas. Varmints are hungry, mean creatures, and they're a lot harder to get rid of. (Fleas and Varmints are just Gran's terms for these creatures. She thinks its funny.)
  • Ursula runs off, and Lettie helps the boy out of the creepy cloths.
  • Ursula has followed the trail that Lettie laid out with the broken toys, and is scared. Lettie isn't scared of her, but she's pretty scared that she has already attracted varmints, or "hunger birds".