Chapter Eighteen: The Lovely Bones Analysis

As with the last chapters- more over-analysed quotes from Sebold’s The Lovely Bones…

~The Analysis (18)~

  • “The old woman that rented the closet liked to listen in, so Ruth tried not to talk much on the phone” 248- Idea that Ruth is trapped in the place she is supposed to feel most safe- her home in the town. Links to the idea of captivity within the rest of the novel. Lonely perception of the old woman: perhaps she felt the need to listen to Ruth talking to her father since no one ever spoke much to her, also the idea she rented her closet suggests that is all the space she had in her house for people to stay- hence presumably not many people stay with her (besides Ruth who doesn’t care where she stayed).
  • “The city had very little to do with her interior life” 249 – suggests she does most of her living on the inside- she lives through her thought and connection with the dead, hence perhaps this is why she makes ‘people nervous’ on the outside- she only lives within, outside she is dead.
  • “You could see the skitter rabbit energy” 249- recurring theme of rabbits- symbolise her vulnerability- Also traditionally, rabbits are associated with fertility, sentiment, desire, and procreation- suggests her desire to be who she really wants to be (sexuality wise?) is a fire that only burns within- she prefers to keep herself to herself…yet people can see through to her soul through her eyes. “People never said anything about her eyes”- is this because they are dead (links to earlier point), or because they have a distaste for what they see?
  • Significance of dressing all in black- doesn’t state this is her uniform- coating herself in the colour of mystery and desire- what she desires to be? Mysterious and desirable?
  • Also interesting how Ruth appears to be linked to Harvey- she ‘makes people nervous’ like her does, she evokes reactions from dogs like he does…
  • “No one knew where she was at any time of the day and no one waited for her. It was an immaculate anonymity” 250 – sense of utter isolation about Ruth- it seems as though she has no one in the world that would miss her if she was to end up in the same state as Susie- yet she never becomes suicidal. Sense of strength about the character of Ruth, as if living along side the dead was giving her the strength and motivation she needed. Anonymous just like Susie’s mother desired to be- she shared links with the family without realising.
  • “Ruth knew her status as a freak at school”- stereotypical high school culture. This label utterly juxtaposes her position as a ‘celebrity’ in heaven. Almost oxymoronic.(pg 250-1). She had no friends in school (besides Ray) yet fans in heaven. Perhaps this is why she associates more with the dead, she can sense an appreciation she doesn’t get from the living.
  • 252 “her ardentness was off-putting”- the fact that people can find Ruth’s positivity conversely negative suggests he doesn’t belong among the living. The people of earth find Ruth strange, and cannot connect with her supposedly ‘human’ emotions- hence perhaps her ‘fans’ in heaven understand what the living don’t.
  • “It was better to look like you were doing something when you stared into the distance” 252- evokes a sense of similarity to Mrs Utemeyer when she was narrated to sit and stare into the distance just as Ruth desires- Utemeyer was ‘part dead’ due to her lack of a brain- perhaps Ruth is too, half dead?
  • “Her journal was her closes and most important relationship”- she can form her closes relationship with something that is not living- again links to the fact that she is not similar to the living, she connects more with the dead, and objects that cannot be classed as alive.
  • “Ruth counted the living just as much as she counted the dead”- shows she just has a natural tendency to connect with the dead, since it is not as if she devotes more time to them, they just come to her.
  • “School librarian…tall, frail woman with wiry hair”- stereotypical school librarian- fact this was Buckley’s favourite teacher shows how he is different- he is similar to Ruth, not chosen first in gym- shows how he has a connection with the dead similar to Ruth (shown when he states Susie talks to him, yet we never get clarification from Susie that she actually does this. Could someone else dead be talking to him?)
  • 254 “…when he was unable to sleep and scanning the few books on gardening that the school library kept”- shows how Buckley is wavering from the stereotypical high school boy, he is doing things not considered ‘cool’- becoming an outsider- just like Ruth and her hobbies were  not stereotypical or cool. “the few…that the library kept” shows how his desires and passions were a minority.
  • “He didn’t like what he read in books”- he has an active mind, just like Ruth when she read books- always wanting more than the pages could offer- reverting to her mind.
  • “…work shed in the garden, where he kept his tools and supplies” 254- evokes an alarming similarity to Ruth- she used to write poetry in her father’s tool shed in the garden and now Buckley is concealing his desires in a tool shed in the garden…foreboding: he will turn out just as ‘freaky’ as Ruth.
  • “The curl up like a hand unfolding”- Buckley describing his tomato plants 255- simile shows how Buckley find them welcoming- again links to Ruth- they find dead objects (or at least, in comparison to a human life- dead) in a way more welcoming than the living.
  • 257- relevant that Jack blacks out when he and Buckley are arguing over Susie? Was it her that caused the heart attack not wanting the relationship between rather and son to deteriorate in front of her eyes? Sensory language (“cold” “damp”) foreshadows the father’s collapse- almost puts the reader in the place of Susie- we know something isn’t right with him and that something will happen, yet Buckley doesn’t. Reader given insight into future just like Susie has.
  • 258 “If he died, I would have him forever” – emphasises again, as in previous chapters, how Susie has maintained her childish desires- shows how she is never growing up.
  • “We stood- the dead child and the living”- the first time Susie seems to acknowledge the fact that she is different to the living. She doesn’t say ‘two children’, she acknowledges that there is a difference between her and her sister which she has previously not done. Shows how she is almost ready to leave earth behind.
  • “air and cover ” “little boy and wounded man” – seems as if the quotation goes a lot deeper than solely speaking of their current situation. As if this is the state they shall remain in forever due to the trauma of Susie’s death- this is what they will both never grow out of. Buckley will remain a small frightened child, and Jack a ‘wounded man’.
  • 260 “I saw the brick paths advancing as I advanced” – physical impossibility- links to fantasy genre- “rending and tearing of time”- again, fantasy genre, defying the physical possibilities of time



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