I am nobody: fantasy and identity in Neil Gaiman’s "The Graveyard Book"

Tsung Chi Chang

Abstract


With the popularity of fantasy literature in recent years, more and more writers of adolescent books shifted their attention to depicting the macabre and the bizarre. While authors of fantasy literature endeavor to show that something that is unreal, strange, whimsical, or magical nevertheless has an internal logic and consistency, at the same time, certain stereotypes typical of the realistic world are destabilized. In the imaginary world in which the events, settings, or characters are outside the realm of possibility, many ideas like love, truth, reality, and identity are constantly destabilized and contested. For example, in Neil Gaiman’s The Graveyard Book (2008), which garners him the Carnegie Medal and the Newbery Medal, the problem of personal identity is apparent in Nobody Owens, an orphan whose parents are killed by a man called “Jack” and whose survival depends on the mercy of the ghosts living in the graveyard that Nobody runs to and hides in to escape Jack. This paper aims to discuss how the protagonist of The Graveyard Book grapples with his bewilderment when confronted with the myth of his identity and how the elements of fantasy are incorporated to help untangle this coming-of-age mythology.


Keywords


Adolescent literature; fantasy; identity; Neil Gaiman; "The Graveyard Book"; Nobody Owens.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.18172/jes.2787

Copyright (c) 2015 Tsung Chi Chang

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© Universidad de La Rioja, 2013

ISSN 1576-6357

EISSN 1695-4300