Coraline: Characters & Quotes

Instructor: Elisha Madison

Elisha is a writer, editor, and aspiring novelist. She has a Master's degree in Ancient Celtic History & Mythology and another Masters in Museum Studies.

'Coraline' by Neil Gaiman is a story of a curious little girl who is unsatisfied with her life. She finds a door to another world, which gives her a choice between her world and another darker more disturbing one.

The Mood of Coraline

Coraline is a children's chapter book which features interesting verbal exchanges between its characters. Its author Neil Gaiman creates a world resembling a disturbed and twisted Alice in Wonderland, if the tea party was inhabited with cats and spiders. The dark nature of this story lends itself to introspective communication, in which its memorable characters participate.


Coraline begins with the business of Coraline's parents writing and the neglect that inspires her to explore and find the 'Other World.'

'''I almost fell down a well yesterday,'' said Coraline.

''Uh-huh,'' said her mother.

''I would've died,'' Coraline said.

''Mm-hmm,'' her mother said smiling.'

Although her parents are not necessarily bad people, they are wrapped up in work as parents can be, and they forget to interact with their child.

The Black Cat

Black Cat

One of the most interesting conversations happens between Coraline and the Black Cat in the 'Other World.'

'''What's your name,'' Coraline asked the cat. ''Look, I'm Coraline. OK?''

''Cats don't have names,'' it said.

''No?'' said Coraline.

''No,'' said the cat. ''Now you people have names. That's because you don't know who you are. We know who we are, so we don't need names.'''

The Black Cat also reveals his sentiments on calling out to cats.

'The cat wrinkled its nose and managed to look unimpressed. ''Calling cats,'' it confided, ''tends to be a rather overrated activity. Might as well call a whirlwind.'''

This next quote from the cat is a great example of the witty writing of Neil Gaiman.

'''We …we could be friends, you know,'' said Coraline.

''We could be rare specimens of an exotic breed of African dancing elephants,'' said the cat. ''But we're not. At least,'' it added cattily, after darting a brief look at Coraline, ''I'm not.'''

The 'Other World'

In the book, Coraline realizes that the 'Other World' which first seemed brighter and more intense is really not what she wants.

'''I don't want whatever I want. Nobody does. Not really. What kind of fun would it be if I just got everything I ever wanted? Just like that, and it didn't mean anything. What then?'' said Coraline.'

She realizes that her world, the real world is great, because there are bad things and sad times, which is what makes the great things so much greater.


Some of the main themes in this book are strength and bravery. Coraline realizes her strength when she goes back for her parents. She realizes that her parents are imperfect, yet they are her parents.

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