Free Study Guide The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold|
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PLOT NOTES: THE LOVELY BONES
Jack has had the heart attack foreshadowed previously in the novel. Susie listens to the tick of the clock above his bed and is reminded of the old saying, “Loves me, loves me not,” only for her, it is, “Die for me, don’t die for me.” She knows she’s being selfish, but she wants him with her forever. Buckley is feeling terrible guilt that the person he loves the most might go away from him. Lindsey wants him to live, because she has been so vigilant for her fragile father for so long. All his children - living and dead - stand on either side of his bed, all wanting him to themselves. Unfortunately, he can’t please them all, even though he loves them all the same. As Buckley lies curled up in bed that night, he agonizes that for the first time in his life, he won’t share their bedtime ritual and goodnight kiss from his father. He only fears one thing and so, he whispers, “Don’t let Daddy die, Susie. I need him.”
Susie, in her heaven, walks away from her gazebo and sees someone coming
toward her in the distance. It is her long-dead grandfather who allows
her to step on his shoes as she did when she was six and they begin to
dance. She remembers when she was six and they had danced that way and
her grandfather had begun to cry. When she asked him why, he answered,
“Sometimes you cry, Susie, even when someone you love has been gone for
a long time.” As they dance now in heaven, Susie knows that something
is happening on Earth and in heaven, too. Something is shifting. Soon,
her grandfather stops and tells her is going. When she asks where, he
replies in deeply significant way, “Don’t worry, sweetheart. You’re so
close.” Then, he disappears into infinity.
Ruth’s attraction to the sinkhole is significant in that it is where Susie’s bones are buried in a locked safe. Also, the fact that she sees ghosts of the murdered and writes prayers for them will make her role in the story even more poignant later. The idea of cords is related again here when Ruth thinks of the cords which might have kept more little girls from being little girls gone. It echoes the cords and lines that bind Susie and her family together. In the penguin house, Ruth funds the same comfort in counting as Mr. Harvey did, only he counted the bones of the dead and she counts the cries of joy of living children.
Buckley bringing up the box of Susie’s clothes for tomato stakes seems to indicate that he is willing to let her go, but Jack is not and the ensuing argument between them brings on his heart attack. His heart has already been broken with Susie’s death, so the physical attack merely seems a foregone conclusion. However, it brings out so much needy selfishness from all his children. It is Susie’s wish that will have the greatest impact: if he dies, the rest of his children may die emotionally with him.
Susie’s dance with her long-dead grandfather is the indication that the shifting she mentions may finally be happening. After eight long years, both heaven and Earth may be ready for acceptance.
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Clapsaddle, Diane. "TheBestNotes on The Lovely Bones".
. 09 May 2017