Free Study Guide The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold|
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FREE ONLINE STUDY GUIDE THE LOVELY BONES
Because Ray had been for a moment a suspect in Susie’s killing, he walks to school every day as quickly as he can, so no lingering doubts can be applied to him. He sees Ruth in the field one morning and decides to meet up with her. Ruth is carrying an anthology of poems her father had found for her and Ray has tea in his father’s thermos. Ruth gives him lip gloss for his chapped lips and they form a friendship on the shot-putter’s cement platform. After that, they meet everyday and talk about everything and everyone. Most of all, they talk about Susie.
Susie’s father visits Ray Singh’s home in order to talk with the boy, but also because he has to leave when his wife becomes upset with Lindsey. He and his wife have been moving away from each other since Susie’s disappearance and he just leaves when she cries. He tells Ruana Singh, Ray’s mother, that he’s glad Susie had a boyfriend like Ray and he wants to tell him just that. He feels badly that he didn’t do what Ray had done for her on her last day on earth: tell Susie he loved her. He also admits to Ruana that he knows who killed Susie, but Ruana, while sympathetic to Mr. Salmon’s need for someone soft to lean on because of what’s happened, is most concerned about how he will affect Ray. She promises that she will meet Ray as he comes home from school, talk to him, and then see how he feels about talking with Mr. Salmon.
When she sees Ray coming up the street, Ruana puts on her coat to meet him. As she goes out the door, she tells Mr. Salmon that she would do exactly what he is doing and adds, “I would talk to everyone I needed to, I would not tell too many people his name. When I was sure, I would find a quiet way, and I would kill him.”
While Mr. Salmon is gone, Detective Len Fenerman comes to the Salmon home and is alone with Abigail Salmon. Buckley and his friend Nate are sleeping on the couch behind Susie’s mother. She begins to draw stick figures on the butcher paper the two boys had been coloring when they fell asleep. They talk quietly about Fenerman’s deceased wife until Mr. Salmon comes home. This is the beginning of a quietly growing attraction between the two. Susie feels like telling her mother to rush to the sink, look down the hole, and into the earth. Susie is there waiting and she’s up above watching.
Len Fenerman carries Susie’s school picture in his wallet with pictures
of many other dead children. If a case involving any of the children had
been solved, he’d write the date on the back and he left it blank, if
the case had not been solved. Among these pictures is that of his wife.
There is nothing on the back of Susie’s picture and nothing on the back
of his wife’s.
Susie’s adolescent moment of love with Ray will grow in significance the longer she is dead and he is alive. The attraction between them was real and she will not be able to forget it as she tries to come to terms with her own death. It will have to be resolved before she can face her eternity. This attraction also will dominate the friendship that grows and will continue to grow between Ray and Ruth. Susie is what they have in common and that, too, will have to be resolved for both the living and the dead.
Jack Salmon’s visit to the Singh home is all part of his need for comfort. Not only is he feeling guilty that he wasn’t there to protect Susie, but he also feels guilt that he didn’t tell her he loved her. He hopes she listens to his pain. Similarly in pain, Abigail, his wife, is beginning to look outside her family for comfort. Her issues, however, are deeper than Susie’s death and at this point in the story, she is not yet sure where her needs will take her.
The pictures in Detective Fenerman’s pocket are a poignant example of loss. He takes all these unsolved cases personally, especially since Susie implies that one is his wife. We will later learn that she had committed suicide and Fenerman feels as much a failure about her death as Jack Salmon does about Susie’s.
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Clapsaddle, Diane. "TheBestNotes on The Lovely Bones".
. 09 May 2017