Coraline Summary and Analysis of The Ghost Children and The Challenge


Coraline falls asleep in her room in the other world. Disoriented, she gets dressed and heads downstairs to speak to her other father. She finds that her other father looks less like her true father, which concerns Coraline. The two have an ominous conversation, and Coraline decides to further explore the other world. In the drawing room, Coraline notices that a ball of glass has appeared on the mantel-piece.

After further inspecting the ball of glass, Coraline realizes that it is a snow globe. She plays with it for a minute before heading out into the woods. In the real world, the woods become sparse the more one continues walking. In the other world, the woods get more convoluted as Coraline continues roaming. The forest turns to mist, and Coraline feels as if she is walking “into nothing.”

As Coraline goes deeper, the mist becomes impenetrable. Coraline fears that she may have gone blind, as she is unable to see the ground beneath her feet. The cat joins Coraline at her side and explains that the misty forest is the part of the other world that Coraline’s other mother, who created the rest of the other world, simply hasn't created. They arrive back at the house, and the cat tells Coraline that the mice are her other mother’s spies.

Coraline enters the house and looks at herself in the mirror. She notices that she looks braver and stronger than she has before. Coraline is shocked to find that her other mother is standing next to her, as she did not see her reflection in the mirror. The other mother offers Coraline a bag of blackbeetles for her to snack on, but Coraline refuses the offer. This prompts the other mother to say that Coraline has no manners. To punish Coraline, the other mother locks her in a dark corridor behind the mirror.

In the corridor, Coraline meets a group of children that have, over the years, fallen victim to the other mother’s cruelty. The children explain that Coraline must liberate her parents, and they encourage her to flee quickly before she grows weaker. The children tell Coraline that they are unable to escape because the other mother has stolen their hearts. If any of the children are to step outside and come in contact with the sun, they would perish. Coraline lays down on the ground, attempting to make herself comfortable despite her circumstances. Before falling asleep, she hears a voice telling her to “look through the stone.”

The next morning, Coraline’s other mother retrieves her from the corridor. Coraline notices that her other mother appears stronger and healthier than before. Coraline confronts her other mother and questions why there were other children in the corridor. The other mother denies the existence of the other children and instead claims that Coraline is merely imagining ghosts. Over breakfast, Coraline proposes a challenge. If Coraline is able to find the missing souls in the other world, her other mother must free Coraline, her parents, and the children in the corridor. If Coraline’s quest is unsuccessful, she must resign herself to stay in the other world forever. The other mother agrees.

Coraline begins exploring. She takes the stone from inside her pocket and uses it as a sort of magnifying glass. Through the stone, she is able to easily identify a marble that she then hides in her pocket for safe-keeping. Coraline leaves the house and heads to Miss Spink and Miss Forcible’s theater. There, she encounters spooky creatures that resemble dog-bats. On the wall within the theater, Coraline sees something glowing within a scary sac. Despite her fear, Coraline approaches the sac and pries the marble out of the hands of an otherworldly creature. She flees the scene with another marble in her pocket.


As Coraline speaks to her other father, she finds that he looks different than he once did. His skin has begun to weather, and he looks paler and unhealthier than before. This transformation reveals how the other father has been manipulated to present a particular image to Coraline. Through this observation, Coraline further uncovers the other mother’s manipulative tendencies. Coraline learns that all things in the other world are untrustworthy. Although she is inspired to act with sympathy towards her other father due to his resemblance to her real dad, she cannot allow her sensitivity to cloud her judgment.

In this section of the novel, the snow globe is introduced to the reader. Coraline is intrigued by the snow globe, which does not seem to come from the real world. The snow globe can be interpreted to signify restriction and imprisonment. A snow globe is an enclosed space, and it is all-encompassing for the figures stuck within it. This mirrors the beldam’s other world, as it is a restricted, isolated, and controlled environment.

When Coraline looks at herself in the mirror, she begins to notice a transformation. Although it is unlikely that her physical appearance has changed in the short amount of time that has elapsed, Coraline is aware of her emotional and spiritual growth. As Coraline grows more confident in herself, she is inspired to assert herself in numerous compromising situations. In this way, the mirror represents a vessel in which Coraline can alter her perspective. In this way, the mirror is an important narrative tool throughout the story.

Upon descending into the corridor, Coraline encounters three distinct ghost children. The boy is outspoken and charismatic, while one of the girls is reserved and mature. The third girl, who seems to possess a fairy-like quality, is Coraline's favorite of the bunch. Interestingly, the three ghost children bear resemblance to Coraline herself. Coraline is both outspoken and mature, and she has an “otherworldly” and fantastic element as well. Perhaps these three ghost children are merely reflections of the different, but equally significant, parts of Coraline.

After witnessing the children stuck in the ghost children corridor, Coraline is deeply pensive and emotional. She concludes that the other mother is a truly evil character, and she aims to restore order to this corrupt world. As a result, Coraline presents her other mother with a challenge. Instead of throwing a tantrum or demanding a result, Coraline aims to demonstrate to her other mother that she is capable and worthy of freedom. This action exemplifies Coraline’s strength and bravery.