In Neil Gaiman's novel for young readers titled The Graveyard Book, does Bod die at the end?

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vangoghfan | College Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

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At the very end of Neil Gaiman’s novel for young readers titled The Graveyard Book, the main character, Bod, having grown up in a graveyard after his parents were murdered when he was an infant, says goodbye to the mysterious inhabitants of the graveyard, including his good friend and mentor Silas, and, finally, his own dead but loving mother. Just before he departs from Silas, Bod tells his friend that he is looking forward to his adult life outside the graveyard. His eagerly anticipates all his new experiences, memorably saying, “I want, . . . I want everything.” This statement is not intended to suggest that Bod is greedy or self-indulgent. Rather, he is full of youth, life, and curiosity. Although he will miss his graveyard friends and although they will also miss him, both he and they seem to realize that it is time for him to move on to the next phase of his existence.

When his mother meets him at the gates of the graveyard and asks him what he intends to do now, he replies,

“See the world . . . . Get into trouble. Get out of trouble again. Visit jungles and volcanoes and deserts and islands. And people. I want to meet an awful lot of people.”

His mother does not discourage him. In fact, she sings him a lullaby that seems to suggest her approval of his decision. Its final lines are as follows:

“Kiss a lover[,]

Dance a measure,

Find your name

And buried treasure. . . .

Face your life[,]

Its pain, its pleasure,

Leave no path untaken.”

With his mother’s blessing, then, Bod, moves out and moves on. The novel ends, as many great works of literature (such as Paradise Lost) also end: with a new beginning. The imagery and tone at the conclusion of the book are almost entirely positive. Bod knows that life will not be entirely easy or painless (as his mother’s song had already implied), but he is eager and willing to face its challenges and discover its rewards.  As the very last sentence of the novel states, “there was life; and Bod walked into it with his eyes and his heart wide open.”



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