Study Guide

The Ocean at the End of the Lane Chapter 11

By Neil Gaiman

Chapter 11

XI

  • Ursula is so scared she's crying. She wants to know why Lettie has let the varmints in (the boy can kind of hear them off in the distance), and Lettie calmly explains that she didn't let them in, they just go where there is food, and Ursula is food.
  • They open the jar and the "door" opens into a long tunnel through the ground leading back to the place with the bitter orange sky.
  • Ursula is upset. She says the way back is incomplete—the end of the tunnel broke off inside the boy. Uh-oh.
  • She transforms back into the rotting circus tent-like creature and grabs the boy, carrying him up high into the air. Now she's pretty upset, and yelling that she planted the end of her path in the boy too well, so she's going to open him in order to get home.
  • Lettie whistles (in that cool way, where you put two fingers to your lips and really let one loose. Man we wish we could do that…) and in come the varmints.
  • "Hunger birds" is definitely a better term for them, though, since they're like super scary giant crows, and they proceed to swoop down and rip pieces of Ursula Monkton away to be eaten.
  • The varmints take care of the Ursula Monkton thing pretty quickly, and then they eat the tunnel/doorway/path thing, too.
  • Lettie tries to get the varmints to leave then, but they're cocky little things—they say that they haven't cleaned up everything (meaning: there's still something inside the boy), and they won't leave until it's done. This can't be good.
  • Lettie hurries the boy to the ring of grass in front of his house that they'd always half-jokingly called the "fairy ring." She needs to protect him while she goes to her house to get help, and nothing can harm him while he stays in the ring.