Study Guide

The Ocean at the End of the Lane Chapter 9

By Neil Gaiman

Chapter 9

IX

  • Grandma and Mrs. Hempstock draw him a bath right there in the kitchen, while Lettie takes his pajamas to mend them.
  • After his bath they all eat a yummy dinner, and then his parents are on the way to pick him up.
  • The women all debate what they're going to do with the boy—turn him into something to hide him or make his parents arrive two weeks ago—but they decide to "snip and stitch," which apparently is a way of tampering with people's memories. They "snip out" the whole fight and bathtub fiasco with his dad, so now there's no reason for him to be mad at the boy, and then they somehow convince his parents that he's there for a slumber party and they're merely dropping off his toothbrush.
  • After they leave, the hole in the bottom of his foot suddenly begins to feel like it's on fire—and now there's pain in his chest too.
  • He shows the hole in his foot to the Hempstocks, and they realize that the reason Ursula has been obsessed with him is because he is her "door" to go home.
  • Old Mrs. Hempstock pierces the hole with the same needle she just used for the snip 'n' stitch procedure, and then pulls out the "door" from his foot. It's weird and mercurial, and doesn't want to come out, but eventually she gets it all and triumphantly stores it in a mason jar.
  • They consider capturing the flea's (as they call Ursula Monkton) door and having the boy safe with them a good night's work, and help him to bed.