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Free Study Guide The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold

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PLOT NOTES FOR THE LOVELY BONES

BONES

Summary

Susie opens this final chapter by saying, “You don’t notice the dead leaving when they really choose to leave you.” This is true for Grandma Lynn who dies several years after, but Susie has yet to see her in her Heaven. Susie still sneaks away to see her family, but she no longer yearns as deeply for them. Samuel and Lindsey get married, live in the old house without electricity and water while renovating it and love it all. Soon, she is pregnant and Jack Salmon dreams that one day he might teacher another child how to build ships in bottles. To him, there will be both sadness and joy in it, because they would always hold an echo of Susie.

Susie, like the other dead souls, loves to stump human and do crazy things. One year, Buckley’s garden comes up all a jumble, even though Grandma Lynn had warned it never would. Also, her parents give her and Grandma Lynn’s possessions away to Good Will, another sign of acceptance. Ray becomes a doctor, but never gives up the knowledge of the possibilities of the dead. If he ever doubts that he made love to Susie Salmon, he has only to call Ruth who wants everyone to believe that “the dead truly talk to us, that in the air between the living, spirits bob and weave and laugh with us. They are the oxygen we breathe.”


Now Susie is in what she calls “this wide, wide heaven,” because it includes all her simplest desires. She can do whatever she wishes, so one day she and her grandfather scan earth and decide to visit a diner he remembered from his days of traveling up and down the east coast. They are just turning away from the place when Susie sees Mr. Harvey coming out of the door of a Greyhound bus. He walks up to one of the girls who had been on the bus with him and strikes up a conversation. His lust has surfaced again. However, above where they are standing, Susie sees a row of icicles. It echoes the summer Gifted Symposium where Lindsey and Samuel were expected to complete a project called The Perfect Murder. They could use knives, guns, or ropes. Susie thought at the time that the perfect weapon was an icicle. After the girl walks away, but before Mr. Harvey can, one of the icicles “mysteriously” breaks off and hits Mr. Harvey. It startles him so that he pitches forward and falls into a ravine. It will be weeks before the snow melts enough to uncover him. Susie has her final revenge. Now she has what she wanted from the beginning: the ability to stop yearning for life and the end of the evil that Mr. Harvey had spread on Earth.

Samuel and Lindsey have a little girl whom they name Abigail Suzanne. She is little Susie and with her, Lindsey finally is able to leave big Susie in her memories where she was meant to be.

Ironically, an unknown man finds Susie’s charm bracelet at the old industrial park where they are bulldozing the whole lot for fear of more sinkholes. His wife washes it off and looks at each little charm, finally commenting, “This little girl’s grown up by now.” And Susie’s final words to us are her answer to this unknown woman, “Almost. Not quite. I wish you all a long and happy life.”

Notes

The final chapter is really more of an epilogue: the “all’s well that ends well” theme. Grandma Lynn has died, Samuel and Lindsey are married and have a baby girl, Susie plays a little trick with the garden, Ray becomes a doctor while Ruth tries to find a way to record all she knows to be true, and the Salmon family is well and thriving. The final loose end - Mr. Harvey - is finally tied up when Susie causes his death in a way nearly as horrible as those of his victims. Susie herself finds her wide, wide Heaven and no longer yearns for life. Finally, the charm bracelet surfaces long after its discovery is needed. But it’s the final touch, the final goodbye of a life well lived.

 

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