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Free Study Guide The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold

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FREE STUDY GUIDE FOR THE LOVELY BONES

LITERARY ELEMENTS

SETTING

The novel, The Lovely Bones, is set mainly in a small town near Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, from 1973 to 1981. There are also minor settings in New Hampshire and California.


CHARACTER LIST

Major Characters

Susie Salmon
She is the main character and narrator of the novel, the young girl who has been raped and murdered. She tells us everything she sees happen to her family for eight years after her death.

George Harvey
This is the man who murdered Susie. The reader sees through Susie’s eyes all the events in his life, including the murders he committed and the childhood that molded him into a murderer.

Jack Salmon
He is Susie’s father; his undying love and devotion for her is examined by Susie and the reader in detail.

Abigail Salmon
She is Susie’s mother, who cannot face Susie’s death and yearns for a different life than the one she was dealt.

Lindsey Salmon
She is Susie’s sister, who faces Susie’s death with a silent, but stalwart wall of grief. Susie follows her life more closely than the other members of her family.

Buckley Salmon
He is Susie’s little brother, who after her death, sees her and talks to her.


Ray Singh
He is the boy who gives Susie her first kiss before she dies and after she dies, makes love to her through the miracle of Ruth Connors’ body.

Ruth Connors
She is the girl in Susie’s class who becomes obsessed with seeing her and knowing her after her death and who looks to help girls and women who were murdered or who might be murdered.

Len Fenerman
He is the detective who investigates Susie’s death. He falls in love with her mother, because he needs someone to help him come to terms with the suicide of his wife and all the deaths that remain unsolved.

Ruana Singh
She is Ray’s mother, who has been all but abandoned by her ambitious husband. She, too, must come to terms with living her life alone. Hers is a kind of grieving process as well.

Samuel Heckler
Lindsey’s boyfriend and future husband, he helps her by filling the void left by Susie’s death and the loss of her mother.

Minor Characters

Grandma Lynn
She is Susie’s grandmother, her mother’s mother, who provides support for the family after Abigail leaves.

Hal Heckler
He is Samuel’s brother and runs a motorcycle shop where Susie will make love to Ray Singh. He also provides support for the family and uses a biker’s network to help track down George Harvey.

Nate
He is Buckley’s friend. He can’t see Susie even though Buckley can.

Clarissa
She is Susie’s friend whom Jack attacks in the cornfield, believing she’s George Harvey.

Brian Wilson
He is the young man of questionable morals who beats up Jack Salmon for attacking Clarissa in the cornfield.

Mr. Botte
He is Susie’s science teacher. His own daughter dies of leukemia and this encourages him to also never forget Susie.

Holly
She is Susie’s roommate in Heaven. She plays the saxophone at Eventide.

Mrs. Utemeyer
She plays the violin at Eventide and was an old lady on Earth who saw her own daughter, Natalie, in Lindsey’s blonde hair. She is the first dead body Lindsey and Susie ever see.

Franny
She is Susie’s “Intake Counselor.” Her job is to help Susie’s soul find release from Earth.

Holiday
He is Susie’s dog who finally meets up with her in her Heaven.

Harvey’s Victims
They are the various girls and women whom Susie sees both in Heaven and on Earth. Ruth often sees them as well.

Mr. O’Dwyer
He is the neighbor who sings Irish ballads both at the first anniversary remembrance for Susie and in her memories of summer nights when she was still alive.

The Fergusons
They are the couple who charge fees for dumping large items into the sinkhole. Mrs. Ferguson accepts the safe that holds Susie’s body for a fee of $20.

 

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