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The Graveyard Book

The Graveyard Book

by Neil Gaiman

Compassion and Forgiveness Theme

Bod and the graveyard people who raise him all learn a lot about compassion and forgiveness through the process. They learn that the impossible can be possible when it comes to helping out a fellow. Some of the more compassionate moments include Mrs. Owens's willingness to raise Bod, and later Bod's quest to get a gravestone for Liza. We come away from The Graveyard Book with more compassion for both the living and the dead. But we also walk away with some important questions, which don't have easy answers.  For example, is it possible to forgive someone who kills your family and tries to kill you? Can compassion and forgiveness help someone switch from good to evil?

Questions About Compassion and Forgiveness

  1. Who’s the most compassionate character in the novel? The least?   
  2. What’s the kindest, most compassionate act you see in the novel?
  3. Do Bod’s parents and Silas forgive him when he makes mistakes?
  4. Could Liza ever forgive the people who burned her alive? Does Bod's act of making a headstone for her right the past wrong?
  5. Does Bod treat his victims with compassion? Should he? Does he enjoy hurting them, or does he just do what is necessary to keep them from hurting others?

Chew on This

Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devil’s advocate.

Bod should have found a way to forgive Jack and to help him grow as a person, instead of tricking him into a cruel death.

There is no problem with the way Bod dealt with Jack. No amount of forgiveness would have saved Scarlett’s and Bod’s lives.

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