The Graveyard Book Controversies-
By: Athena Dudek and Izzy O'Connor
Our book- The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
In the subtext of his novel, The Graveyard Book's plot, Neil Gaiman addresses real-world issues, including signs of schizophrenia and secret societies. He presents subtextual commentary on each issue, he believes strongly and is curious about schizophrenia and secret societies and how they effect the mind and the rest of society today and in the future. They are both serious issues that need to be adressed.
What is Schizophrenia/
What are secret societies?
Schizophrenia is a brain disorder that can have multiple symptoms, including hallucinations, delusions, inability to feel emotion, withdrawal from the world, depression, paranoia, and much more. ("A disorder characterized by disordered thinking and odd perceptions that cause dysfunction in major activities, sometimes including withdrawl from the world, delusions and hallucinations" [Piotrowski, Nancy A., Ph.D. and Leslie V., Ph.D. Tischauser "Schizophrenia")
Secret societies are groups of people that meet so that people who are not members are kept in the dark. They can be religious, political or against a certain cause or movement. Degrees of seriousness vary between group to group ranging from keeping secrets from the general public to committing crimes and hurting innocent people for the sake of symbolism.
What do these have to do with our novel?
In The Graveyard Book, there is a group of creatures that label themselves as "The man Jacks". Like most secret societies, their admission process is selective, seeming to only initiate members that are the same creatures as "The man Jacks". Like most secret societies, they kept most of their motives secret. ("Others [groups] believe that they have access to knowledge that would be incomprehensible, overwhelming, or dangerous to the general public." [Hahn, Allison, PhD and Elena, MA Popan.]) They decided that they would kill Bod and his family because they received a prophecy that Bod would be the one to destroy their entire organization. ("Oh yes, the old man said that if you let me grow to adulthood you order would be destroyed. I did. You failed and you lost." Gaiman p.278)
However, they failed, which spurred "The man Jacks" to go after Bod with new-found determination to see his demise.
In The Graveyard Book, Bod (or Nobody) Owens' parents were murdered when he was barely a toddler, by a group of people called "The man Jacks" who were mostly aiming for Bod, because he was the one that could end their society. However, The man Jack failed to kill Bod, so Bod was left to be raised by ghosts. ("He had left the woman in her bed, the man on the bedroom floor, and the older child in her brightly colored bedroom, surrounded by toys and half-finished models. That only left the little one, a baby barely a toddler, to take care of." [Gaiman p.7]) The trauma from that experience may have helped trigger his schizophrenia.
However, people with schizophrenia can hallucinate many things, from cars moving to people, so Bod could have wanted some sort of parental figure, so he could have already had schizophrenia and hallucinated being raised by Silas and Mr. and Mrs. Owens. Schizophrenia also makes people have the inability to feel emotion, like when Bod practically traumatized his classmate with no remorse. (" A person with negative symptoms might be found simply sitting and staring blankly at the world, no matter what is happening. Various cognitive symptoms may or may not be present, including difficulty paying attention, poor working memory, and limited ability to process information and make informed decisions [executive functioning]." Piotrowski, Nancy A., Ph.D. and Leslie V., Ph.D. Tischauser "Schizpphrenia.")
Piotrowski, Nancy A., Ph.D. and Leslie V., Ph.D. Tischauser. "Schizophrenia." Magill’s Medical Guide (Online Edition), 2013. EBSCOhost, proxygsu-scob.galileo.usg.edu/login?url=https://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=ers&AN=86196265&site=eds-live&scope=site.
DID YOU KNOW?
of schizophrenia patients commit suicide.
Hahn, Allison, PhD and Elena, MA Popan. "Secret Societies." Salem Press Encyclopedia, 2016. EBSCOhost, proxygsu-scob.galileo.usg.edu/login?url=https://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=ers&AN=113931214&site=eds-live&scope=site.
DID YOU KNOW?
[ 1/3] Of U.S. presidents were Freemasons.
(Freemasons were originally doctors who swore to keep the public from illness.)
Gaiman, Neil. “The Graveyard Book Graphic Novel Single Volume.” Barnes & Noble, The B&N Sci-Fi and Fantasy Blog, www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-graveyard-book-graphic-novel-single-volume-neil-gaiman/1123154158.
Brain with and without schizophrenia