Chapter Seventeen: The Lovely Bones Analysis

….and even more only-analysed quotations and idea’s from The Lovely Bones, by Alice Sebold.



~The Analysis (17)~

  • “She imagined trees split down the middle and houses on fire” 234- emphasises that, despite the description of Lindsey’s growth at the beginning of the chapter, she was still young, and has the youthful over-active imagination
  • “Old Victorian house”- brings the recurring symbol of houses and buildings- representing protection, a belonging, a future.
  • “more and more of these undeveloped patches were disappearing…that marked my childhood”- life is progressing without Susie- the world is moving on,  her childhood is disappearing only to remain in the minds of those who love her.
  • “We lived in one of the first developments”- sense of roots to that spot, they will forevermore be bound to that area, as if an anchor holds the family to its foundations- where it originated.
  • “I feel like I am in a cave” “It is so quiet in here you can barely hear the rain” – feels as if they were hidden from the other world- perhaps symbolises her desire to be rid of it- childish dream to live away from the world with her ‘one true love’. Hence perhaps she is fantasising, letting her imagination take her to a place that is fitting  with the environment.
  • 236 “It was not longer a Susie-fest on earth”- represents the passing of time, immaturity and youth of Susie- again, childlike self-consideration
  • “…unzip their leathers the lightning stopped and the rumble in the throat of God- that scary thunder- also stopped.” – link to Christianity with reference to God- thunder being described as something from the ‘throat of God’- links to idea of fantasy within the scene
  • 238 “my brother was at the most awkward stage of adolescence- not boy, not man” – sense of lack of identity, of need. Significant that Susie got to watch this- since she herself is neither lady nor girl, she is around the same age, she is neither girl nor woman, but just dead.
  • “Staring at photos of a woman he felt he barely knew anymore” 239 – “A woman” indefinite article shows how he feels he has lost knowledge of her- saddening to think of how the death of one thing had lead to the death of another- Susie’s death lead to the death of their relationship.
  • “Part of what I loved about photography was the power it gave to me over the people on the other side of the camera” 240 – shows how Susie craved authority, she craved power, she craved growing up.
  • “Diving under and up into a mask somehow” “The mask was almost, but not quite, in place”- shows Abigail was trapped by the front she had to put on for her family and her children.
  • “Both of our eyes were open underwater, a new skill- newer for her” 242- rendition from childhood, sense of growing, remembering when Susie was able to experience new things with her Sister in the real world- as if this bit of living aided her sister who was able to run with Samuel using the “skill from the pool”.
  • “Like someone who had survived a gun shot, the wound had been closing, closing- braiding into a scar for eight long years” – “gun shot” emphasises the physical torture- as if the emotion had swelled to such a state it become physically painful- as if it could actually threaten her life. “Scar” shows she will always be affected- always have a mark in her mind of her sister, no matter how vast the time span became. 242
  • 244 “Lindsey and Buckley had come to live their lives in direct proportion to what effect it would have on a fragile father”- almost role reversal- one would expect the father to be making amendments for the children having lost a sibling, the man being the strong one, but it seems the children have taken his place. Note the fricative “fragile father”.
  • “It was Buckley…who saw me” 245- still had a connection to the dead
  • “my face…which had not changed- the hair still parted down the middle…hips undeveloped”- emphasises how Susie is stationary beside the fast paced progression of the world
  • “I could hear the voices of those who no longer lived on earth” 246- as if many were like Susie-Obsessed with keeping a hold on the living but never quite being able to hold them- always having someone to watch even if they had misinterpreted their own significance. Idea of longing, having someone on  earth with which to belong to- an anchor.
  • “the sound of life”- as if, since she is no longer living- it is only her senses through which she can live- through witnessing the progression of her family, hearing the ‘sound of life’
  • “Recognising the tension of that moment when the world in the bottle depended, solely, on me”- hint that Susie is understanding the benefits of letting go of her grip on earth. She is beginning to evoke a sense of maturity again, as if, she can grow in mind if not in body. She is becoming less selfish- she understands the living must be left to leave their grief and move on.


 

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Snapshots: The Lovely Bones Analysis

Quite frankly lengthy and rather overly-detailed analysis of the interlude between chapters 16 & 17.



~The Analysis (Sn.Shots)~

  • Susie’s obsession with the camera is ironic- she desired to “rescue the moment” of the photograph, to rescue the moment that “would now be gone forever except for a picture”- this is ironic since it was utterly unnecessary- when she died Susie could replay these moment and re-visit them. It is as if, in heaven, she has everything she wanted, yet still she is unhappy- just like with the other characters. When they get what they desire they feel the desire more. Juxtaposes Christian beliefs about greed.
  • 214 “He willingly gave the grisly details to any customer who asked- young girl, cornfield, found only an elbow” – as if this had become the definition of Susie, three/ four words to define her existence (and it orientated around the end of it). Reveals the way the dead saw the living.
  • “A Chinese red” 215 (Abigail priding herself on being able to wear such colours)- red connotes danger and lust, desire- hint that she had always been ‘wearing’ her desire for danger, an escape from motherhood.
  • “A family with five little girls moved into Harvey’s house” 216 – ironic that in the list of those Harvey had killed in previous chapters it was stated he had killed five little girls (and a 49 year old, hence not little and excluded from 5)- almost representative of the girls he had killed, the lives he had taken. As if their spirits had come to slumber in the place they had died, or with the man who killed them. Haunting. Eerie tone developed in line “The sound of little girls- girls to spare” to give a suggestion that they had no use, as if they were already dead only back to haunt the house of Harvey
  • “Play without that always-worried look underneath the smile”- as if the incident had tarnished their existence, so that even a smile was never the same- something had changed. Idea of a mask- masking the worry with a smile.
  • “Weak men changed into strong half-animals” … “when he felt his heart he turned into something stronger than a little boy” 217 – hardening himself like Lindsey had years earlier. If the children knew what to do and where capable of it, why didn’t the parents do the same? Growing up. Bildungsroman.
  • “A heart that flashed from heart to stone; heart to stone”- he too has been tarnished by the death of his sister no matter how he tries to conceal it. “Stone” again suggests an element of cold, unfeelingness about his personality- seems to be present in all of the family (e.g. father’s heart described as a ‘cave’, the mother’s ‘icy’ exterior)- as if a part of them all died alongside Susie.
  • Significance of Buckley drawing the Inbetween, the story about Susie’s death- seems as if Buckley knows what happened to Susie without being told- as if he is connected to her in a way that is never explored. This is added to by Buckley’s previous statements of Susie talking to him.
  • “Finally they found an old coke bottle” 218- ironic that such an insignificant ‘regular’ object would hold the evidence (Harvey’s fingerprints) to convict him
  • “As if he had evaporated into thin air” 218-metaphor- perhaps shows his ’empty’ existence- there was so little to his life (no wife, no connections, no passions, no base to trace him to) that he could his life could disappear into the molecules of the air. There was such little to define his life it. So little that he may well not exist- “officially, he did not exist”. He left behind his passion as well “He had left behind his doll’s houses”- what left was there for Harvey?
  • “He had tried to save solve my murder and he had failed” “He had tried to love my mother and he had failed” – sense of duality about his life- what he desired to be outside of his job (daring- to love Abigail) vs the professional detective that he was- he had failed at both because he was greedy- if he hadn’t been with Abigail and accepted his life as detective he would have achieved one of the two  things.
  • “easy to get” “physical” “anonymous” 220 (the traits that ‘sounded good’ to Abigail)- grasps at the idea that , now she was free of everything and everyone (in particular: motherhood) she was in fact, no one. As if, again, motherhood defined her and she now doesn’t have that.
  • 222 “She felt like she had driven through nothing but families for four days- squabbling families, bawling families, screaming families…”- description shows how she was glad to be free- she doesn’t seem to miss her family since she is only capable of seeing the bad times, she hasn’t paid attention to the good.
  • 222 “I worried about her slipping” – strange- as if the tone of Susie was more mature, as If it had grown- she seems to have lost her childish selfishness from previously in the novel in which she would have been so selfish as to wish for her mother to join her, and hence perhaps, however harshly- fall on the rocks so she could do this.
  • 222 “My mother’s desire to reach those waves”- as if the recurring motif has finally been given a definite meaning- she desired freedom. The ‘ocean’ in her ‘eyes’ was her longing for freedom.
  • 222 ” was life more like a horrible game in gym… running from one side of an enclosed space to another” – reveals Susie’s lack of life experience- the fact she describes life as a school PE lesson shows how she never really lived to experience it. As if you can live life inside of an ‘enclosed space’. Claustrophobic.
  • 224 “Knew only my name” “felt like a pin prick” “Being simultaneously resurrected and buried within the same breath”- sticks with the idea that Susie’s identity is links only to ‘the dead girl’- as if it would be every child’s dream to be forever in everyone’s minds, yet it is not what anyone would really want- known for an unfortunate circumstance that came to define your existence.
  • 225 “Could his mind contain anything else?”- Susie’s childish selfishness resurfaces again to rekindle the idea- Susie will never grow up.
  • 226 “The closet was for sleeping and for having an address” ” A tiny perch in the city”- sense of need to belong
  • 227 “The world she saw of dead women and children had become as real to her as the one in which she lived” – sense of being an outsider- she couldn’t connect with the living hence the sort to connect with the dead. Gothic like tone. Links with the idea of fantasy- not really possible to link with the dead. m
  • 228 “had been torn down to make room for more houses”- sense of developing world, progression, industrialisation.
  • 228 “He tenderly stripped their bodies of any valuables and moved on”- instinct- just as his mother had taught him- ‘tenderly’ shows a sense of respect for the dead
  • 230 “The trees in the yard grew taller”- symbolic of life moving on in the physical ‘real world’
  • “I would study with Ray” “with my father in his den”- Susie has still not let go of the living or accepted the fact that she can no longer really ever be ‘with’ them.