Study Guide

The Ocean at the End of the Lane Chapter 4

By Neil Gaiman

Chapter 4

IV

  • Lettie takes the boy out to make a hazel wand to use as a guide toward… whatever it is that they're looking for.
  • Then they embark on a strange type of scavenger hunt. Lettie describes a color or texture or feeling that she's picking up, and when they find an object that fits, she names another one—she's definitely following a trail that the boy cannot see.
  • Lettie instructs him to hold onto her and under no circumstances should he let go.
  • They seek out a storm, and the thing (which seems to be the source of the storm) definitely doesn't want them to be there.
  • Lettie pulls them to the ground and a furry rug-like creature with dozens of tiny sharp teeth flies over their heads. Apparently that's a Manta wolf. (Someone loved this book enough to create a stuffed animal representation.)
  • Lettie loses whatever signals she's been receiving, so she tells the boy to place the coin from his throat on the fork of the stick to serve as a type of amplifier. It works, but not in a way Lettie's ever seen before: it sets the end of the stick on fire.
  • Lettie reiterates that he needs to be holding onto her at all times. So that must be pretty important.
  • The coin (which he'd retrieved from the stick before it burst into flames) starts to feel frozen, and the sky turns a bright orange color.
  • They've found the thing. It's like a giant pink and gray circus tent that's definitely seen better days. It has a terrifying face that is gray canvas with deep holes for eyes.
  • Lettie tells it to name itself, and the thing just brags about how it has been there forever. It thinks that it needs to give everyone money to make them happy.
  • Lettie tells it to leave everyone alone, and the thing gets angry.
  • Lettie starts to talk/sing—in a language the boy has never heard—in order to bind the thing without knowing its name.
  • While she's singing, tons of worms writhe up through the grass and the thing hurls a ball of cobwebs and rotting cloth at the boy. Without thinking, he lets go of Lettie's hand to catch it, and immediately feels a stabbing pain in the sole of his foot.
  • Lettie finishes binding it, and the storm settles down. The gray cloth just falls to the ground. Lettie and the boy walk home holding hands.
  • On the way, they reach a field planted with cattails—but when the boy pulls one up, it's a small black kitten with a white spot over one ear and vivid teal eyes.
  • He wants to keep the kitten, but Lettie says it's not wise to keep things from her farm.
  • They get back to the lane, and Lettie says she wished that he hadn't let go of her hand. He reassures her that he's fine. No harm done.