Coraline tells her other mother that she has collected two of the three souls, but her other mother is not impressed. Later, Coraline wanders into an old bedroom. There, she finds a large metal ring on the ground. While investigating the ring, Coraline discovers a trapdoor under a loose floorboard. Coraline descends into the hidden space.
In the space underneath the floorboard, Coraline is met with a repulsive smell. She pulls away a damp cloth and discovers a decayed figure with two large, black buttons for eyes. Coraline realizes that this creature is actually her other father. Her other mother condemned him to the space underneath the floorboard for revealing too much information to Coraline. At her other mother’s urging, the other father attacks Coraline. Coraline blinds her other father by pulling out his button eye.
As she quietly flees, the other father chases Coraline up the stairs. Coraline evades his grasp and congratulates herself for being brave. Coraline returns to her house, where she decides to visit the flat above her own. In the real world, the apartment above her family’s home is where the old man lives with his rats. Coraline has yet to explore this space in the other world, and she anxiously enters the old man’s flat.
In the apartment, the mice whisper an ominous poem. Coraline has a breakthrough moment in which she realizes that everything she sees in the other world is a fabricated version of her reality. Her other mother has included these things in the other world as a means of intimidation. Coraline begins to wonder why the other mother would place a snow globe on the mantelpiece in the other world, since her mantelpiece in her real home is bare. Meanwhile, Coraline wanders through the old man’s flat, following a scratchy voice that calls her name.
Coraline engages the old man in a conversation. As they talk, he attempts to lure Coraline into staying in the other world forever. He explains that if she stays in the other world, she will never be lonely and she will always eat her favorite foods. Coraline notices that a marble appears within the jacket of the old man. She takes a step closer to him in order to retrieve the final marble, but tons of small black rats jump out of his coat and distract her.
Coraline locates the final marble in the paws of a rat scurrying across the ground. She pursues the rat on a chase, which takes her outside of the home. She trips and falls, losing her pursuit. She attempts to avoid her feelings of discouragement, and she is pleasantly surprised when she notices that the black cat has successfully attacked the rat. Coraline retrieves the final marble and places it in her pocket for safekeeping.
Coraline picks up the cat and carries it into the house to confront her other mother for the final time. Coraline tells her other mother that she knows that her real parents are hidden in the passageway between the real world and the other world. The other mother opens the door to the corridor, revealing that her parents are nowhere to be found. The cat then begins to attack the other mother, and Coraline is free to steal the snow globe from the mantelpiece. Coraline struggles to close the door between the two worlds.
As Coraline begins searching for the missing three souls, she uses a stone to assist her pursuit. The stone symbolizes a protective amulet. When the stone is in Coraline’s possession, she is able to see things that are invisible to the naked eye. In this way, Coraline is once again drawn to remember how appearances can be misleading and deceitful. Instead, Coraline learns that positive magic and an appropriate sense of trust in the supernatural can be beneficial.
When Coraline sees her other father on the ground, she is prompted to help him overcome his weaknesses. However, she soon discovers that his frailty is a mere trap. The other father aims to pounce on Coraline as soon as she is convinced that he is not a threat. The other father morphs into a scary creature, and Coraline must quickly figure out a way to avoid danger. In pulling out his button eye, Coraline directly harms the other father’s soul. Ultimately, Coraline is able to escape from his grasp due to her swift and powerful decision-making.
In the real world, Coraline always feared the old man. She found him creepy, and she never quite understood the relationship he shared with the mice. When she is prompted to enter his flat in the other world, she is forced to confront a fear that is prevalent across both dimensions. In the other world, the mice are particularly threatening for Coraline. They are more plentiful, sinister, and appear to have their own agenda. Throughout history, mice have been interpreted as a link to the underworld due to their connection with the ground.
Despite her profound distaste for rats, Coraline chases one around the house in order to capture the final marble. During the chase, she trips and scrapes her knee. Her physical injury indicates her profound determination. Although she is momentarily dejected, she soon finds that the cat has helped capture the final marble. In this way, the cat subverts the typical black cat stereotype. Contrary to expectation, the cat is an ally and friend to Coraline.
Coraline picks up the cat, thus demonstrating her caring tendencies. The climactic moment of the story ensues. Coraline confronts her other mother and demands that she maintain her part of the promise. However, the other mother refuses to set Coraline set free. As a result, Coraline is forced to trick her other mother and escape. Coraline closes the door between the two worlds, symbolizing the end to this dramatic chapter.