Convincing arguments can be made either for human-versus-society or human-versus-himself as the novel's central conflict. Ransom Riggs's novel centers on Jacob Portman's quest to help and understand his grandfather, which suggests that the internal conflict is central. Because his grandfather's difficulties were largely caused by the war, however, Jacob struggles to understand how the evil in society could have inflicted such horror on any people—especially children.
Jacob finds himself in the position of challenging the evil in society in order to rescue a few people who are important either in his or in his family's life. He does not intend to take on all of society—or even a large part of it—but his personal convictions ultimately bind him to the struggle against the fascist "Hollowgast."
Jacob tends to romanticize the mysteries in Grandfather Abe's past; he imagines a "magical" explanation for all the fantastic, impossible things he hears about. As he comes to terms with the...
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