The Graveyard Book


Neil Gaiman

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Themes and Colors
Community, Identity, and Coming of Age Theme Icon
Parents and Guardians Theme Icon
Life and Death Theme Icon
Good, Evil, and Assumptions Theme Icon
LitCharts assigns a color and icon to each theme in The Graveyard Book, which you can use to track the themes throughout the work.

Community, Identity, and Coming of Age

The Graveyard Book follows the format of a classic bildungsroman—it’s a coming-of-age story that focuses on the education and maturation of its young protagonist, Nobody Owens, who goes by the nickname “Bod.” When Bod is a toddler, a mysterious man named Jack murders Bod’s parents and older sister but is unable to find the elusive toddler. When Bod wanders into the nearby graveyard, the ghosts who inhabit it—along with the resident vampire, Silas—decide…

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Parents and Guardians

After brutally murdering Bod’s family, Jack, the novel’s antagonist, sets his sights on murdering Bod, too. Lucky, a ghost couple in the nearby graveyard, Mr. Owens and Mrs. Owens, swiftly adopt Bod and commit to protecting him from the murderer. And ultimately, every ghostly resident of the graveyard works together to raise, teach, and guide Bod on his journey to adulthood, literally fulfilling the age-old adage that it “takes a village” to…

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Life and Death

The Graveyard Book is riddled with death. The book opens in the moments after three gruesome murders, and many of the book’s characters are dead. On the whole, the novel shows that death is a safe state to find oneself in, as dead people no longer have to worry about concerns that plague the living, like the existence of schoolyard bullies or, in Bod’s case, the possibility that one will be murdered. However, Bod’s…

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Good, Evil, and Assumptions

The Graveyard Book subverts common notions of good and evil. While werewolves, vampires, and ghosts feature as villains in many classic novels and stories, in The Graveyard Book, it’s the vampire Silas, the werewolf Miss Lupescu, and the ghosts of the graveyard who are the inarguable “good guys.” And instead of positioning living humans as forces for good in a fight against nefarious supernatural beings, The Graveyard Book features human villains almost…

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