Coraline is a young girl who has just moved to a new apartment with her parents. She often feels lonely and bored, and she is continually searching for ways to find fun and friendship in her new environment. She is misunderstood by her eccentric neighbors, who incorrectly call her "Caroline." She is also neglected by her parents, who fail to acknowledge her vivid imagination. After she finds a hidden passageway in her new home, Coraline discovers the spooky "other world." While initially intrigued by the adventure this new world holds, she soon discovers that everything is a scary alternate version of her reality.
After Coraline discovers that her parents have gone missing, she must confront The Beldam (the alternate name for her "other mother") in order to rescue her family. Coraline is confronted with a series of challenges, but she learns to trust herself and be brave in order to meet her goals. As a character, Coraline grows exceptionally throughout the novel. At the beginning of the novel, Coraline is easily frustrated by her parents. However, after she experiences the difficulties that she encounters in the other world, she is forced to change her perspective on family and love. Coraline learns to embrace the eccentricity of her neighbors and the creatures around her, and she also learns that she must advocate for herself in the face of adversity.
The Other Mother (The Beldam)
Coraline's other mother initially appears to look like her real mother with a few stylistic differences. She is taller, paler, and she has black buttons in the place of her eyes. Though she initially appears sweet and accommodating, Coraline soon finds that she is the evil creator of the other world. Over years, she has successfully stolen the souls of other children in order to trap them in her universe. She holds Coraline's parents captive, and she aims to trap Coraline in the other world as well. As the story progresses, she becomes more witch-like. She is evil and conniving, and she manipulates those around her in order to exert control. Coraline eventually outsmarts her, and she is defeated.
Mrs. Jones is Coraline's mother. She is not particularly attentive, and although she wants the best for Coraline, she does not put effort into making Coraline feel wanted or loved. This emotional neglect prompts Coraline to explore her surroundings, which eventually leads her to the other world. Along with Coraline's father, her mother is kidnapped by the beldam in the other world. Coraline must rescue her mother from the other world in order to restore her family's safety.
Mr. Jones is Coraline's father. He is known for making elaborate recipes, which Coraline deeply detests. He works from home and has trouble separating his work time from family time. Consequently, his intentions to spend time with Coraline fall by the wayside. Despite not having as much time with him as she would like, Coraline idolizes her father and loves him deeply. Along with Coraline's mother, her father is kidnapped by the beldam in the other world. After Coraline rescues her father and returns to her average life, he picks her up like he used to do when Coraline was younger.
Miss Spink and Miss Forcible
Although Miss Spink and Miss Forcible are two separate people, they act as one character throughout the novel. The two live together in the flat below Coraline's with their many terrier dogs. Both are former actresses, though it seems as though Miss Forcible had a slightly more successful career than Miss Spink. The two consistently mispronounce Coraline's name, yet they seem to notice that she is a "remarkable young girl." Miss Spink and Miss Forcible are fortune tellers, and they envision that Coraline is in danger before she discovers the other world. The two women also appear in the beldam's world, performing a strange circus-like show in their home theater.
Known throughout the novel as The Man Upstairs, Mr. Bobo lives in the flat above Coraline. He is from an unnamed country in Eastern Europe, and he runs a mouse circus that has been been in the family for generations. Mr. Bobo consistently calls Coraline "Caroline," which frustrates the young protagonist. Mr. Bobo is convinced that his mice communicate with him, and he insists that his pets are warning Coraline of imminent danger. In the other world, he appears as a more dramatized version of himself, with mice crawling out of his coat. At the end of the novel, he expresses his appreciation for Coraline and even learns how to pronounce her name correctly.
The three ghost children
Following an argument with the beldam in the other world, Coraline is banished to a corridor behind the mirror. There, she encounters three ghost children that have been baited and trapped by the other mother over the years. The three children include the ghost girl, the ghost boy, and the fairy girl. The three characters explain that their souls have been stolen and held captive, and Coraline must retrieve them in order for them all to be free. The ghost girl is relatively demure. The ghost boy is the boldest of the three characters, and he is the most outspoken about the other world. The fairy girl is Coraline's favorite, as she sees parts of her own personality in this character. After Coraline successfully frees the three children from the other world, they guide Coraline into defeating the beldam once and for all.
The Other Father
The other father baits Coraline into staying in the other world. He cooks Coraline's favorite recipes and indulges her with the attention that her true father fails to provide her with. The other father is controlled entirely by the beldam and executes her every wish. Although he initially appears sweet and forgiving, he manipulates Coraline into feeling guilty for him before he attacks. Coraline defeats the other father by pulling out his button eye and escaping from his grasp.
Coraline Questions and Answers
The Question and Answer section for Coraline is a great
resource to ask questions, find answers, and discuss the novel.