The Graveyard Book – Literature – Themes

A community is needed to raise a child.

Bod is adopted by Mr. Owens and Mrs. Owens, since his parents can’t take care of him anymore.
Mrs. Owens sees it as her duty to take care of Bod, even though the other graveyard residents are against it (21).
Silas, the vampire, encourages Mrs. Owens to keep the toddler in the graveyard. He offers his help to raise Bod: “(…)I firmly believe that it is for good – Mrs. Owens and her husband have taken this child under protection. It is going to take more than just a couple of good – hearted souls to raise this child; it will (…) take a graveyard” (23).

Silas is the guardian and mentor of Bod. He is the only graveyard member who answers all of Bod’s questions patiently about why Bod is not allowed to leave the graveyard. He also takes the education of Bod very serious. “Then he walked Bod around the graveyard, placing the boy’s small fingers on the newest and clearest of the headstones and the plaques, and taught Bod how to find the letters of the alphabet…” (38).
Before Bod finally leaves the graveyard, Silas convinces Bod that he will always be looked after by Silas. “’And whether you see me or not, I have no doubt that I will see you’’’(302).

During the dance at the festival Danse Macabre, the graveyard members help Bod to understand the union of the living and dead. Next to the Lady on the Grey, Fortinbras Bartleby and Liza Hempstock also offer Bod a hand to dance with him. Therefore, they show him how valued he is in his community.

After Silas has to leave for a while, Miss Lupescu takes care of Bod as a substitute guardian. She is focused on disciplining Bod, which Silas probably didn’t do. “Repeat after me, there are the living and the dead, there are day-folk and night-folk, there are ghouls and mist-walkers, there are high hunters and the Hounds of God” (p.71). This shows that Miss Lupescu is sincere about teaching Bod the dangers of the world outside of the graveyard. Even if Bod has a difficult time and doesn’t see any value in the teachings of Miss Lupescu, he still learns important lessons, which guide him on his future journeys.

Another character who is crucial for Bod’s upbringing is the witch Liza Hempstock. Bod is willing to go to the Indigo man’s tomb to find something valuable which he can sell so he can buy a headstone for Liza Hempstock. It shows that all the help Bod has got from the graveyard residents has made him a social person who is willing to courageously step into dangerous areas in order to help someone else whom he barely knows.



good – evil

Appearances can be deceiving. It can be very hard to tell who is good and who is evil sometimes.

In “The Graveyard Book” many characters that are typically considered evil prove to be actually good.
An example is the ghosts. Ghosts in general are often considered evil. There are a lot of stories, movies and books about evil ghosts. But the author portrays them in a very different way. The ghosts find Bod when he is still a toddler and they decide to save his life and raise him and protect him. In this story the ghosts are good and very caring.

Another example is Miss Lupescu. She is a werewolf, or what she prefers to be called, “a hound of god”. Werewolves, in general, are also considered evil creatures. In most stories they are supposed to be monsters that transform at full moon and devour animals, people or corpses and turn back to their human form at day break.
In the book Miss Lupescu seems to be cold and unfriendly at the beginning but after she and Bod get to know each other a bit better, he realizes that she is actually a very friendly person that wants to protect him. In the end she even sacrifices her life to protect him from evil.

Humans, on the other hand, like the Jacks of all Trades and the children that bully him in school are portrayed as evil. The Jacks of all Trades, for example, try to murder Bod and his human family just because of some kind of prophecy.
The author wants the reader to think about good and evil.

It’s not always just black and white, which can be seen in Silas. He might have been an evil vampire in his earlier days, but during the time of the story he has decided to be a good person and protects Bod from any harm.
Even the protagonist, Bod, is misjudged when, in an effort to defend himself, he allows the Sleer to kill Jack. Scarlett sees this as monstrous, but the reader understands that appearances can be deceiving.