In her attempt to escape the other world, Coraline gets stuck in the corridor with three children and two adults. They begin running for a prolonged period of time. Coraline begins to see a faint light at the end of the corridor, and she runs towards it. She realizes that she is no longer accompanied by the other children and adults, but she has no time to entertain her curiosity. Instead, she successfully makes it through the door and locks it behind her.
In the real world, Coraline apologizes to the cat for using it as a distraction during her escape. The cat reassures Coraline, and the two acknowledge the importance of their friendship. She then falls asleep on her grandmother’s armchair. Coraline is later awakened by her real mother, who explains that she was searching all over the house for her daughter. Coraline prepares for dinner by washing herself in the bathroom. As she does so, she empties her pockets and examines each of the three marbles, the stone, the black key, and the empty snow globe.
Coraline heads to her father’s study, where she kisses him on the back of his head. He carries her to the kitchen, where the family enjoys a pizza dinner together. Coraline decides to fashion the key into a necklace in order to celebrate her victory against her other mother. Before falling asleep that night, Coraline places the gray marbles underneath her pillow. For the first time in a long time, Coraline has a dream.
Coraline dreams she is at a picnic under an old oak tree in a meadow. The setting is peaceful, and she is joined by three children. They eat bread and jam, and they play around in the woods together. Coraline especially befriends one of the girls, who dresses in a unique style and carries beautiful flowers with her. Coraline realizes that these three children are the three ghostly children that she met in the corridor.
The children express their appreciation for Coraline freeing them from the other world. However, they explain that Coraline’s work is not yet complete. They warn that the other mother has never lost, and Coraline should be prepared for her next challenge. Coraline is frustrated by this ominous warning, and she says goodbye to her friends. Later that night, Coraline hears a rustling noise outside of her bedroom. She follows the noise and is led to the mirror, where she sees nothing but her own reflection looking back at her.
Coraline then realizes that the thing scurrying on the ground is the other mother’s right hand. She realizes that the hand is restless because it wants the black key. Coraline notices that her parents have never mentioned that they have spent time in the snow globe. Coraline decides that her parents never actually noticed that she was missing for two days. After reaching beneath her pillow, Coraline notices that the three marbles are crushed. She heads to Miss Spink and Miss Forcible’s home, where the women read the leaves left at the bottom of her teacup. They see the image of a hand, and Coraline affirms her uneasiness.
Coraline sets up a picnic for her dolls in the meadow. She then goes to Miss Spink and Miss Forcible’s flat, where she checks on the pair’s injured dog. Coraline ties a string to the key and places it within the picnic setup. The hand runs towards the key, aiming to capture it. However, Coraline pulls the key on the string, and the hand, along with the entire tea party, collapses into a well below ground. Her trap was successful, and the other mother has officially been defeated. Coraline visits her neighbors, who acknowledge that balance has finally been restored in their lives due to the villain’s demise. Coraline falls asleep in her bed, the night before the first day of the new school year.
While Coraline is being chased by the beldam, she finds herself in the corridor with the children and her parents. In this way, Coraline is reminded of the responsibility she carries to rescue those other than herself. As she continues running, she realizes that the other people have failed to follow her. This symbolizes an important theme in the novel. Although Coraline will occasionally meet other characters that can provide her with some sense of comfort, she is ultimately left alone with no one but herself to rely on.
Sleep plays an important role in this last section of the novel. Throughout her adventure, Coraline is unable to truly rest and relax. Instead, she is abruptly awakened by another challenge that she must overcome. When Coraline has finally defeated the beldam, she falls asleep soundly in her grandmother’s armchair. In this way, sleep represents that Coraline has finally achieved peace of mind.
Coraline’s dream is incredibly important, as it provides her with the knowledge that her work is not yet done. Coraline’s dream is full of vivid visual imagery, and she paints it as an idyllic picnic scene. However, the idealism of the dream is a juxtaposition to the content of the dream. Instead of relaxing and finding comfort through sleep, Coraline must muster her stamina and strength in order to create an elaborate plan for her other mother’s final defeat.
It is symbolic that the other mother’s hand has escaped into the real world. This indicates that the other mother is desperately trying to maintain control in both of the world’s realms. The key is also a powerful symbol in the novel, as it allows the bearer to access the portal between the human world and the other world. As the story progresses, it is clear that both Coraline and the other mother fight to possess the key, as it represents freedom, mobility, and power. The other mother specifically wishes to keep the key so that she can hunt for victims in both dimensions. For Coraline, the key represents escape and victory from the beldam's world. For the beldam, the key symbolizes control and authority.
At the end of the novel, it is unclear whether the entire story has been a figment of the protagonist’s imagination. Coraline’s parents do not recall their time in the snow globe, and there is no confirmation that what has happened was actually “real.” As readers, we must determine whether this element of reality versus imagination is actually relevant to the storyline. Does it make a difference whether Coraline has imagined the story’s events, or not? Regardless, the final pages reveal that Coraline has undergone a great character transformation. While she was once judgmental and stuck up, she now appreciates her family’s love and her neighbors' unusual quirks.