Chapter Twenty-one: The Lovely Bones Analysis

And more still- more analysis of Sebold’s The Lovely Bones as a continuation from before the fashion posts… click here for previous chapters. The content for 20 is being used elsewhere.

~The Analysis (21)~

  • 283 “I counted the lashes of each closed eye”- emphasises Susie’s seeming abundance of time in heaven- the absolute lack of stress, lack of worry, lack of responsibility. The traits of heaven seem to be typical- they are also what all of the other characters seem to desire- freedom, no responsibility.
  • “I would not be good enough to match …those I read in Seventeen and Glamour and Vogue” 284- emphasises the effects of these magazines on a young girl- references Sebold’s view of their negative impact on teenagers, feeling as if they will never be good enough to match the glitz and glamour of Vogue. Also emphasises Susie’s naivety- as if what she reads in magazines represent reality, or the way her life should be lived. Almost as if these magazines were her bible.
  • “My first kiss came from a grown man. A father of a friend” (Lynn)- this is equally shocking and not at the same time- not, because Sebold has expressed Lynn’s spontaneity previously, and shocking because of the situation itself. Relevant that her first kiss wasn’t a shared or equal experience. It was special for her (he was the first man she’d kissed) but for him she was just another kiss. No indication that he meant anything to her. Perhaps he took advantage. Sense of vulnerability about Lynn. Gullible and needy just like Susie. “You’re not going to tell on me, are you?”- Lynn suddenly reverts to the childlike person she is presented to me.
  • 286 “happy + frightened = churned” – Susie explaining her feelings in the moment she kissed Ray as a mathematical expression. This shows how almost illogical the moment was for her, it emphasises how she had never done it before- as if she needed to draft an equation in order to be able to understand the components and the outcome.
  • “some poor sap’s car is going to fall into it all over again”-subtle indication that Harvey will kill someone the same way he killed Susie again?
  • “Concrete fills the throat and grout fills the cracks” 286- personification of ‘throat’ again to make the filling of the sink hole sound almost murderous- as if by covering the hole they are concealing a life- which fits with what they will effectively be doing if they knew Susie was buried there.
  • “These animals smelled the brokenness in him- the human defect- and stayed away” (talking of Ellis and his lack of recovery to being called an animal killer)- he is trapped by no physical boundaries, only his emotions- links to the idea all character are trapped in some way by something in the novel.
  • “She was holding my father’s hand. I suddenly felt terribly lonely”-  289- Susie’s childlike selfishness resurfaces again- like before asserting the fact that she will never grow up.
  • “Abbie”- 289- one of the only times Jack uses the colloquial nomination for his wife- as if the death is finally turning the family around- it had to go from good, to bad, to better. The connections are tightening.
  • 290 “We found it near a grave” (referencing the charm of Susie’s found by someone supposedly NOT CONNECTED TO LEN OR THE POLICE earlier)- the fact he used the pronoun “we” to take responsibility for the work of someone else shows his saddening desperation- he needs to steal (metaphorically) of others in order to feel achieved in his current life.
  • “My parents were suddenly still for a moment- like  animals trapped in ice”- emphasises how they had frozen in the moment, time had stopped an ceased to continue. Emphasises their shock at the word “grave” and the mistaken indication that it could be Susie’s. Almost gives the reader time to realise what has been said- since perhaps they may not have understood the first time or realised the significance of Len’s words, just like Len didn’t.
  • “Open it, Abbie”- second colloquial nomination from Jack- sense of permanence about their new relationship, closeness.
  • “A tiny ember of gold in my father’s palm” 291- this was one of the only things the father had left of his dead daughter in the world- taken literally without reference to the material, it was literally ‘ a tiny ember of gold’ for him- signifying how immense the value of such a small object was to a grieving father.
  • “Frankenstein’s monster on wheels”- Susie’s childlike descriptions of everyday objects emphasise her eternal life as a child. Emphasises how she never obtained the experience to be able to expand on her descriptions. This is the stage in life at which she remains.
  • 292 “He cut himself with the pen knife along the back of his hand” “it was an accident”- shows how young Harvey knew what he was doing wasn’t an accident although he convinced himself to see it that way. Seems to have no regard for pain or suffering (since he supposedly didn’t bother to clean or cover his own cut or his father may not have noticed it so easily). Shows how Harvey had trained himself to excuse his actions as accidental even though it didn’t make sense- it was a theory by which he lived his life.
  • “How long it would take before he began to remember me”- childlike eagerness. Shows her eternal position as a child.
  • “It’s spooky around here, Ruth’ Ray said”- as if he could sense the presence of the dead also. 293
  • “cocoa-coloured flesh” “soft and convex”- personifying the hole to make it seem as if it literally ‘ate Susie'(with references to throat and stomach)- not a glamourous way to die. As if the sink hole has its own personality, and it’s own identity, with which it swallowed Susie.
  • 294 “There was a whole village inside the earth that no one knew about”- this is the village that Susie went to when she herself was inside the hole- heaven. The only difference being heaven is thought to be at a height, not below.
  • “Ruthie”- shows progression of their relationship- the fondness that developed with time.
  • “The earth’s throat burps”- continual personification- as if it has digested something….SUSIE.
  • “Awkward plaid skirt” “covered in Holiday’s fur”- 295- shows how he found her flaws attractive- the most genuine type of love, makes Susie’s tragic death seem even more saddening
  • “the house that would soon be demolished”- links to development, things are physically changing, life is moving on.
  • “Don’t you want anything Susie?” 295 – use of “anything” suggests Ruth thinks Susie currently doesn’t want anything, when in reality it is obvious what Susie desires- life, Ray, the ability to grow up. But Susie knows she cant have these things, and perhaps so does Ruth- prompting Susie to think about what she wants from heaven, what she can actually have.
  • 296- “simple but elegant clothes she might convince my mother to wear”- almost Lynn defining Abigail- she is simple but elegant. Too simple, perhaps, to cope with the death of her daughter.
  • 196 “Past caring who spotted him”- first real piece of evidence that signified Harvey’s degradation as a person- he used to do all possible to avoid getting caught and now he is almost presenting himself to the neighbourhood.
  • “A neighbourhood of potential victims”-297- the world ‘potential’ signifies a change. As if they could be Harvey’s future victims, not would be. Sense that Harvey is changing, he will not definitely kill these children, but he could.
  • “The new owners painted it a lavender mauve”- symbolism- motherly colour, other symbolism:
  • Variations of purple convey different meanings: Light purples are light-hearted, floral, and romantic. The dark shades are more intellectual and dignified.The negative meanings of purple are decadence, conceit, and pomposity. Purple is also a colour of mourning.-As if the house can now mourn for the loss of life in Harvey’s presence.


  • “The queasy kick of an empty room”- sense of haunting- a mother’s instinct- she is a mother herself, hence she can sense the death in Harvey
  • 298 “He had chosen to tell the truth”- evidence Harvey is changing- accepting a moment in his life that is not made up
  • Significance of Ruana’s flower being the periwinkle:
  • Periwinkle: benevolence, charms from the heart, gifts that delight the spirit. Also speaks the honour of freedom to be yourself, and allow those you love to do the same- STRONG SENSE OF FREEDOM.

  • Significant how thinking of how he killed Susie brought back memories of Harvey’s mother, and the charm- did the father kill Harvey’s mother in the same way? Is this why Susie is so connected to Harvey? He was reliving the death of his mother, but this time he was in control.



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