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Free Study Guide The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold

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BOOKNOTES - THE LOVELY BONES

CHAPTER 23

Summary

The next morning, Ray awakens in his own room with Ruth beside him. During the night, while Ruth slept, he had read her journal as Susie had asked him. Ruth comes awake and sees him reading her journal. She says she has so much to tell him.

Meanwhile, Susie’s father is leaving the hospital. Susie knows by the way they look at each other, the four members of her family are meant to be there alone. Ruana Singh is making an apple pie to take to Jack Salmon, all the while finally thinking the word divorce. Ruana wants both Ray and Ruth to go there with her, but Ruth says she has somewhere else to go and will drop by later. Abigail had stayed with Jack for a straight 48 hours and Susie sees that the world has changed for them and will change again and again. There is no way to stop it. She also notes how her Grandma Lynn is much easier to love after Susie died than before. She is still a drinker, but she has been a bastion of support for the family.


When her father comes home, Susie wonders if this is what she has been waiting for: her family coming home, not to her, but to one another with her gone. Lindsey and her mother discuss whether Abigail will hurt Jack again. Her mother makes no promises this time, but says she will do everything she can not to. Abigail goes upstairs immediately and everyone knows she is going to Susie’s room. It is still the same furniture and decoration even though Grandma Lynn sleeps there. Abigail stands on the edge of it and whispers to Susie that she loves her. It shocks Susie, but she knows that her mother has needed the time she was gone to know that her love for Susie will not destroy her. Abigail realizes herself that there is a time to let go of the dead, but also a time to let go of the living by accepting them as they are.

As for Susie, she no longer needs to yearn for her family and they no longer need to yearn for her. Nonetheless, they still will and she still will, always. This time, however, the yearning will not them like chains. Her family drinks champagne with Samuel’s toast that everyone is home together and he is proud to be marrying Lindsey. Now Susie knows that the “lovely bones” are not her body; instead, they are the connections created in her absence between the members of her family and she knows that she can see things now in a way that “lets her hold the world without her in it.” Then, Ray and his mother arrive with the pie and more connections begin expanding outward from Susie’s death.

Susie sees Ruth out in the cornfield while everyone else she loves is inside. Ruth will always feel and think of her. The haunted girl has become the haunted woman and there is nothing Susie can do about it. Inside, Samuel talks about the Victorian house he wants for his and Lindsey’s first home. Ray tells them that Ruth’s father owns it and had bought it for the exact reason that Samuel wants it: to renovate and restore it. The present is moving on into the future and with that, Susie is gone.

Notes

This chapter is a tying up of loose ends for the Salmon family. They will continue to create “the lovely bones” of love, trust and respect. They can say goodbye and leave Susie behind, although she will be always in their hearts.

 

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