Study Guide

The Ocean at the End of the Lane Mortality

By Neil Gaiman

Mortality

In <em>The Ocean at the End of the Lane</em>, it's possible for someone to die but then not be dead, and mortality is a subject that gets discussed, regardless of the amount of leeway it's given. The poor kid around whom our tale revolves is faced with an unusual amount of death in a very short period of time, so he's forced to acknowledge the difficulties surrounding it, all while being faced with Lettie's matter-of-fact approach to death and dying. By the time we are introduced to his adult incarnation, we realize that he's been forced to accept death's inevitability as well.

Questions About Mortality

  1. Would you say that the Hempstocks are nonchalant about death? Does it have to do with their pseudo-immortality, or is it that they consider themselves above the humans they're surrounded by?
  2. How does the boy's concept of mortality change from the events in his childhood to adulthood?
  3. Is Lettie's sacrifice justified? Or is her death somehow more tragic compared to the boy's?
  4. Is this book trying to make a statement about death? What would it be?

Chew on This

The death of his kitten Fluffy has a more profound impact on the boy than the opal miner's suicide.

The opal miner's suicide has more of an impact on the boy than the death of his kitten, Fluffy.