Form and Content

(Survey of Young Adult Fiction)

The Neverending Story is an extended fable detailing the rewards and hazards of escapism. The text is typeset in two colors, with sequences occurring in the world of Bastian Balthasar Bux being set in red and the story that he is reading reproduced in green. In the early phases of the novel, Bastian’s world and the world of the book-within-the-book are distinct, but they gradually intersect until Bastian is incorporated into the story that he is reading.

The miserable and overweight Bastian, whose widower father is a remote figure and who lives in fear of the ridicule of his schoolfellows, takes refuge in an attic so that he may read a book called The Neverending Story, which he has stolen from a strange shop and its mysterious bookseller. He discovers that the story is set in Fantastica, an imaginary world whose outlying regions are being consumed by Nothing—an affliction whose onset corresponded with the illness of the Childlike Empress, who lives in the Ivory Tower.

The empress divines that the hero who can save the world is one Atreyu, and she commissions the centaur Cairon to give him the talisman AURYN. Cairon is alarmed to find that Atreyu is a mere boy but sends him forth nevertheless on the Great Quest.

In the Swamps of Sadness, Atreyu learns from Morla the Aged One that the empress can only be healed if someone from outside Fantastica gives her a new name. After encountering the monster Ygramul the Many, Atreyu and the luckdragon Falkor brave the baleful sphinxes that guard the Great Riddle Gate, the first of three through which he must pass in order to reach...

(The entire section is 668 words.)


(Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults)

The Neverending Story occurs in the school attic, where Bastian reads the book he has stolen, and in Fantastica, the land where the...

(The entire section is 178 words.)

Literary Qualities

(Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults)

Michael Ende wrote The Neverending Story in German, and Ralph Manheim translated the novel into English. His translation is accurate,...

(The entire section is 234 words.)

Social Sensitivity

(Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults)

Some of the characters in The Neverending Story are evil. A few are conventional monsters, such as the werewolf who tracks Atreyu and...

(The entire section is 155 words.)

Topics for Discussion

(Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults)

1. What is Bastian's attitude toward school? Does he dislike learning, the way he is asked to learn, or both?

2. Ende uses many...

(The entire section is 297 words.)

Ideas for Reports and Papers

(Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults)

1. View the movie version of The Neverending Story. Ende disliked the film and demanded that his name be removed from the credits....

(The entire section is 274 words.)

Related Titles / Adaptations

(Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults)

Academy Award nominee Wolfgang Petersen directed the 1984 movie adaptation of The Neverending Story, which was distributed by Warner...

(The entire section is 38 words.)

For Further Reference

(Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults)

Macguire, Gregory. "Outlook Tower." Horn Book 60 (April 1984): 228. Macguire acknowledges The Neverending Story's popularity...

(The entire section is 99 words.)