Study Guide

The Ocean at the End of the Lane Memory

By Neil Gaiman


Memory is something that revels in ambiguity—so if two people experience the same moment, they will both have two very different opinions of how things really went down. So for our purposes in The Ocean at the End of the Lane, when the man is telling us the story of all the incredible events that occurred during that fateful spring break, we have to keep in mind that it is all coming from his memory—and decades after the fact, to boot. And we also have to remember that the Hempstocks have a way of messing with memories.

In other words, who knows what actually happened…

Questions About Memory

  1. How do his memories change as the narration changes (during the story telling versus in the prologue and epilogue)?
  2. Why does the boy choose to keep the memory of his father trying to kill him?
  3. How has the memory (or non-memory) of these events shaped his life?

Chew on This

If he keeps feeling the draw to visit the farm at important moments in his life, he must have some remnant of memory that creates the pull.

His need to re-visit the farm periodically, despite not knowing why, is a magical mechanism that Lettie has put into place so that she can check on him throughout his life.