How do Coraline's views on family compare to yours?

Quick answer:

While Coraline's parents are often too busy to pay her much attention, Coraline nevertheless understands that they love her for who she is. She knows that family is a bond between independent people who value each other, not a mechanism for emotional manipulation or control.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Coraline's attitude about family is complex. Her parents, who are peripheral characters in the novel, are too busy with work to pay much attention to Coraline. Their interactions with her are short, and consist of coming up with things she can do to keep herself busy. This doesn't mean that they don't love her, however. In fact, the defining quality of Coraline's family is their respect for each other as individuals, and their commitment to each other. When her parents mysteriously disappear, Coraline remembers the time her father sacrificed himself to save her from a wasp's nest, and knows that she similarly has to go back to the other world to save them.

It's telling that the parents have so little agency in the book. You can understand the Other Mother as a reimagining of Coraline's real mother; while in real life Coraline craves attention, the Other Mother gives Coraline too much attention, and her motives for doing so are to possess Coraline in a way that is terrifying and dangerous. While Coraline's real parents understand her as an individual and grant her quite a bit of freedom, the Other Mother sees Coraline as an object to possess. Coraline's quest to free her parents is in this sense also an assertion of her individuality and independence.

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access
Approved by eNotes Editorial