Study Guide

The Ocean at the End of the Lane Chapter 12

By Neil Gaiman

Chapter 12

XII

  • The boy huddles, terrified, in the fairy ring as dusk settles, and "people" start to visit him to convince him to leave the circle.
  • First comes the opal miner, looking like an animated wax figurine—he tries to convince the boy to leave the circle so that the varmints can finish their job of "cleaning up".
  • The boy closes his eyes and starts to recite poetry from Alice in Wonderland to try to calm himself down; when he opens his eyes the dead opal miner is gone.
  • Next his "sister" comes and tries to lure him up to the house.
  • He moves on to reciting Gilbert and Sullivan, and then his "dad" comes to try to get him out of the circle—he starts yelling and getting furious at the boy, which makes him cry.
  • He asks his father if it makes him feel like a big man to make a little boy cry, and that crumples his "dad" and he goes back to the house.
  • Then comes something pretending to be Ursula Monkton. She says that the varmints have let her out of the place inside them and that if she gives him to them she can have him as her plaything for the rest of eternity. Oh, goody. She blows him a kiss and fades away.
  • Then something that looks like Lettie comes and tells him it's all good, let's go to the farmhouse, but he sees right through the charade by now.
  • The varmints speak to him directly and tell him his whole life will be wasted because of the stupid hole left in his heart, so he should just let them kill him now. Thanks but no thanks, guys.
  • He continues to sit there reciting Gilbert and Sullivan to himself and waiting for Lettie, his only friend, to come back and save him.