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Free Study Guide The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold

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FREE STUDY GUIDE / SUMMARY - THE LOVELY BONES

KEY FACTS

Title
The Lovely Bones

Author
Alice Sebold

Date Published
2002

Genre
Fiction, Supernatural Thriller, and a Bildungsroman

Meaning of the Title
It refers to the actual body of the narrator; it also represents the cement that binds her family together. See Quotation number 16.

Setting
A small town near or a suburb of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania from 1973 through 1981

Protagonist
Susie Salmon


Antagonist
George Harvey, the serial killer as well as grief and guilt and the impact they have on those left behind after a murder in a family

Mood
Poignant, sad, at times suspenseful, uplifting

Point of View
First person (Susie narrates the entire story)

Tense
This story is written in the past tense, for Susie tells it after she and her family have resolved the problems which result when she is killed.

Rising Action
From the beginning of the novel when Susie is murdered until she “falls” into Ruth’s body and fulfills her greatest desire.

Exposition
Susie Salmon is raped and murdered; her family copes with numerous problems as a result; the murderer leaves town when he realizes her family knows he killed her; the murderer is never caught, but dies as a result of Susie’s “icicle”; Susie and her family resolve the issues which divide them after Susie dies; Susie wishes us all a long and happy life.

Climax
Susie is able to fulfill her desire to really grow up when Heaven allows her to inhabit Ruth’s body and make love to Ray.

Outcome
Susie’s family repairs the break in their bonds and moves on without Susie, but also without forgetting her. Susie is finally able to give up Earth and find her true Heaven.

Major Theme
The power of grief

Minor Themes
Love and Acceptance; Good versus Evil; the Feminist View of Rape

 

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