Free Study Guide The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold|
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THE LOVELY BONES - ONLINE SUMMARY NOTES
After Mr. Harvey rapes Susie, he stabs her to death and then cuts her
body into pieces, inadvertently leaving behind her elbow, which is later
brought home by the Gilberts’ dog.
Several important ideas surface immediately in this first chapter. First, it is 1973, so it is still at a time when people believed things like raping and murdering a young girl didn’t happen. Second, although Susie is 14, girls her age, in 1973, were probably more like 11 year old girls are today. They were not nearly as mature as they are now.
Furthermore, Susie relates a story to us about Mr. Harvey being old-fashioned and using eggshells and coffee grounds as fertilizer for his garden. This foreshadows that even though Mr. Harvey’s garden stinks, no one investigates, because he has made it known what fertilizer he uses.
In heaven, Susie reveals several aspects of her death that she should have noticed at the time. For example, she remembers there had been the light scent of cologne in the air as she walked through the field. That should have made her more watchful. Also, Mr. Harvey knows her name. That should have raised her suspicions. She watches Mr. Harvey tell her mother later, “I hope they get the bastard. I’m sorry for your loss.” She sees then that he had no shame, but she didn’t know it at the time of her death. She enters the hiding place and never asks herself why a grown man would have such a place. Then, when he tells her he had built it for the neighborhood kids, she knows he is lying, but just feels sorry for him for his loneliness.
Finally, Susie is amazed that he has lantern inside the hiding place as well as his razor and his shaving cream. She just attributes this to his oddness - her father had once told his family that Mr. Harvey was harmless, just a “character” - and doesn’t hear any warning bells. Now, we know that he was preparing himself for her murder.
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Clapsaddle, Diane. "TheBestNotes on The Lovely Bones".
. 09 May 2017