Free Study Guide The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold|
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LITERATURE STUDY GUIDE FOR THE LOVELY BONES
Ruth and Ray arrive at the sinkhole and not much has changed since the day Susie’s body was buried there. Susie remembers how she and Buckley went one day with her father to bury a refrigerator in the sinkhole. She remembers, like Ruth and Ray, worrying that it might swallow her. Of course, ironically, it really did. Then, Ruth asks aloud if Ray ever wonders where Susie’s body ever ended up. Ray turns to go inside the Flanagan’s old house just as Ruth sees Susie looking at the spot where Mr. Harvey dumped her body. Ruth says Susie’s name, feeling her presence. Ruth tells her she has written poetry for her and asks her the ultimate question, “Don’t you want anything?” Susie vanishes.
Susie then sees her family all doing different things: Buckley, Hal and Samuel at a bike show; Grandma Lynn at the mall; her mother and father together at the hospital; and Lindsey home alone while Mr. Harvey drives back into their neighborhood. In heaven, Holiday whines at Susie’s feet as they watch him. No one outside recognizes him, but the woman who now lives in his house sees him drive by and abruptly goes back in the house and watches him. He looks up and sees Lindsey sitting in the window of her house. Then, Susie sees walking down the street all the animals and murdered women who were leaving Mr. Harvey’s old house. He doesn’t see them, thinking instead of Lindsey and the bridal tent. A police car comes up behind him and asks him to leave the neighborhood. Susie thinks of the convergence of luck that had saved her sister: a woman who was alarmed by Harvey’s face and a police car that moved him along. However, as long as he was free, everyday for Lindsey was a question mark.
Ray and Ruth are about to leave the sinkhole when Ray spies some periwinkle
along the road he wants to pick for his mother. He climbs down over the
edge of the road and Susie realizes that Holiday wasn’t whining for Lindsey.
Instead, he is whining, because Mr. Harvey’s car is coming along the road
directly toward Ruth. Mr. Harvey sees the sinkhole and remembers that
he dumped a body there. Ruth sees in his car the ghosts of women in blood-colored
gowns. Then, she blacks out and that is the moment when Susie falls to
It is significant that this chapter opens with Susie’s retelling her feelings for Ray Singh and how she wanted to kiss him, but was afraid she wouldn’t be good at it. It prepares us for the next chapter when her greatest desire will be fulfilled.
When Ray and Ruth go to the sinkhole, it is almost like a replay of the crime. Susie’s body is there, even though they don’t know that; they see Joe Ellis who had been a suspect; Ruth sees Susie’s ghost; and Mr. Harvey drives by them. This also prepares us for the convergence of the supernatural and perhaps the unbelievable aspects of life and death that will allow Susie to “fall to earth.” Ruth has asked her if she wants anything and now she is about to give Susie something she wants more than anything.
The supernatural almost seems at work as well when Lindsey is protected from Mr. Harvey by the lucky convergence of a woman’s intuition and a police car called to the neighborhood.
And even though it is not really supernatural, there is a strength that seems to come over Abigail as she decides to cling to the family she really loved and finally push Len Fenerman out of her life.
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Clapsaddle, Diane. "TheBestNotes on The Lovely Bones".
. 09 May 2017