As always, more essay-like analysis that was intended to be more like a few sentences…sorry. Only one more section after this chapter- ‘Bones’.
Continuation from previous chapter twenty two analysis. Click here.
~The Analysis (23)~
312- “The smell of his mother’s baking had sneaked up the stairs and into Ray’s room where he and Ruth lay”- ‘sneaked’ creates a tender atmosphere, it didn’t take over the room, only came slowly and subtly into it. Homely atmosphere, as if the pair should feel at home where they are- at home together. Stereotypical mother- baking.
“A bit of moonlight feel across the floor from the window where I had…followed it….Ruth’s bag”- gothic motif- as if it were a supernatural signal, Susie communicating with him, telling him to read the journal. Spooky way to lead Ray to the book, signifies that what the book holds is equally as sinister and mysterious.
“…stared into the throats of the bright yellow flowers” 313- seems to be a recurring personification- describing nouns in the natural world to have throats, and (like the sink hole) perhaps stomachs too- as if they have their own personality, or are a full representation of something else that does (e.g. Susie)
“I knew they were meant to be there, the four of them together, alone” 314- sense of unity which juxtaposes the initial explosion of the family. Susie seems to be loosing her childish desires to be a part of the family, and instead is watching from the outside- accepting the family as a whole without her. Suggests she is growing mentally, even if not able to physically.
314 “The cruelty was in his absence”- emphasises Ruana’s lonliness. She felt his absence was ‘cruel’ suggesting an almost physical pain from the emotion. The fact he was ‘ghost-like’ when he was there suggests a lack of connection between the two. There is no warmth and no emotion, just a suggestion of a being- shows Ruana seems emotionally deprived as well as just lonely.
Significance of the thought of divorce when cutting apples:
Apples and apple blossoms are ideal symbols of love, youth, beauty and happiness- everything Ruana once was but perhaps feels she no longer is- she desires appreciation and presence. She wants a new beginning.
“Her Abigail…her strange Abigail”- 316- nominations become more familiar- shows how the family is changing, becoming closer, more understanding. Throughout the novel there seems to be the message of overcoming the flaws of others, learning to love them (e.g. Jack learning to love Abigail’s weakness). Lynn has learned to love her ‘strange’ daughter. Susie appreciates her grandmother’s flaw as solely a quirk of her personality- “now I saw that drinking was a part of what made her who she was”
“He banged. And he banged and he banged and he banged” 317- repetition (onomatopoeic) emphasises the sheer level of noise- it seems as though the house is the loudest it has been in years- the most alive. The family us regaining life.
“…as if she were standing at the edge of the Pacific”- recurring motif of water and oceans- but this time the character is referred to as being on the edge of the ocean, not within it. Sense of regaining control- she is on the edge of wilderness but not wondering into it. Progress.
Significance of Susie’s room being ‘lavender’ which matches the colour Harvey’s house was repainted after he moved out?- as if Susie is encapsulating him now just as she did his house (in a manner of speaking)?
318 “wildlife photographer, had captured a woman”- strange that Susie would refer to her mother as ‘a’ woman (indefinite article)- shows an appreciation for the side of her mother that she didn’t know, or never got to understand. Shows that she accepts this fact, that she still doesn’t really know her mother.
“Her mother was solid if she was drunk, solid if she was vein”- again, shows an acceptance for the flaws of others. Accepting what she can’t change, and can’t run away from.
“Spotting a man through the window…”‘It’s Ray…'”- shows a definite development- Ray has gone form boy to man, Ruth from a ‘girl haunted’ to a ‘woman’. Emphasises Bildungsroman nature of novel.
Yes, more again. Sorry. Analysis of Sebold’s The Lovely Bones…continuation from previous analytical blogs: see previous here.
~The Analysis (22)~
300 “Unwatched, unloved, unbidden”- almost given as the definition of Harvey. Pitiful impression of the man who killed Susie- reader feels almost guilty for sympathising with him.
“I was in Ruth’s eyes…I was looking…I could feel…I felt”- shows Susie’s childlike excitement at being given life one last time. Her marvelling at the sense shows what she doesn’t have in heaven, and what she can’t do. She is living in heaven (in a form) but isn’t really alive- she can’t live through her senses as they can on earth.
“I smiled at him one-thousand-watted”- shows the energy she is able to radiate on earth- the power she feels.
“…people were throwing rose petals as they saw Ruth Connors”- Symbolism of rose:
“Sometimes cats fall ten flights out of the windows of high rises…”- as if falling from heaven was like a cat falling from a window- vulnerable, able, alive.
305 “I could have left this place to claim another. I could have gone anywhere I wanted to”- saddening prospect- the little girl reminiscing over all misses opportunities like an adult that has never grown up. Similar to the way adults point out the things they never did in their lives when thinking about the past, which make it sadder that Susie never got to miss them, she just didn’t have the choice.
306 “Even at the hottest I could make it, I still felt cold”- indication that she is still not fully with Ray, she is still partially dead.
“I cupped his elbow in my palm”- significant that the first body part Susie touched was Ray’s elbow- the one part of her that gave an indication of her fate.
“…bonfire in the classroom…yelling in the halls as loud as I want”- shows what freedom means to a child like Susie- again references her limited experience
“The dark bright pity of being human” 309- oxymoronic – as if being alive isn’t always better than being dead- it is just as dark as bright.
310 “Look what happens when you dream”- change of tone. Seems direct. As if Sebold is making a statement (declarative) directly to readers.
“That was how it felt to leave earth the second time”- this time Susie’s death of dignified, peaceful, as if she is receiving some type of justice.
More analysis, more words, more essay-like explanations…read on!
~The Analysis (19)~
“…her morning ritual of an early coffee drunk while staring out at the grape vines grafted row upon row of sturdy white crosses”- tranquil tone, as if this is what Abigail had always wanted and now she has it. Juxtaposes the later mental state of Abigail when she receives the call on the next page. 262
“she repeated the strange words: husband, heart attack”- the alliteration when said allowed by the reader also sounds like a whisper with the sound of the ‘h’ flowing past the reader’s lips. Mimics the hushed tone of shock within the situation- emphasises the fragility and Abigail’s mind and her state of bewilderment. 263
264 “…which made her blue eyes seem even bluer in contrast”- as if the ‘ocean’ within her eyes was intensifying- as if she was even more lost than before. Shows how her greed for freedom only led to more loss and confusion. Reference to ‘pony tai’ instead of Sebold referencing solely her hair ‘tied back at the base of her head’ emphasises how Abigail has been in a youthful state- she has had few responsibilities and now she has been landed back with them.
“…like the ubiquitous photo of a celebrity”- referencing Susie’s photograph- as if death made a person a celebrity. Susie achieved what everyone else didn’t want- everyone else (Abigail, Ruth, wanted anonymity- Susie had no choice- she is famous.)
“I barely managed a close-lipped grin”- devastating tone- she fact she was so self conscious and missed her last chance to leave her mother with the smile she so desperately loved. Also saddening to reference her self-consciousness considering the indecent way she died. 265
266 “But though she was, by definition a mother…”- shows what Abigail had tried to escape from- the idea that her meaning and purpose in life was orientated around the presence of her children.
“She had been punished in the most horrible and unimaginable way for never wanting to have me” 266- brutal tone as if she almost deserved what she had coming, hint of religion
“…suspended and immobile for the first few moments”- links to idea of fantasy- freezing time, impossibility
“mom…..it tasted soapy and foreign in her mouth”- ‘soapy’ signifies an unpleasant taste, something that shouldn’t be there- signifies that to Lindsey in that moment, her mother seemed out of place, just as Abigail had felt all those years before. 267
268 “Being who she was- whoever that was”- shows how her desire to be free of motherhood and for escape only ended in her loosing herself completely.
“Like a rat bulging, undigested, inside a snake: the secret of Len”- significance of snakes symbolising danger and threat, the rat being the prey for the predator, the vulnerable innocent target. Threat references the danger of destruction to the Salmon family, they were the target, the prey for Abigail’s predation of Len.
“Full of hate and tension- a riptide of blood to swim through”- reference to water and waves- however this time is doesn’t symbolise freedom or loss, it symbolises the sheer scale of hatred Abigail must fight. An ocean of blood which she must ‘swim’ through- she must cut through the pain she has caused.
“Underground storage room of hate…heart to stone heart to stone”- recurring motif of the heart and the stone. Fragility of Buckley’s emotions, partial death of emotions.
“…she placed it between her powder and comb” (referencing the note about Len’s pending arrival)- relevance of the make-up- perhaps referencing appearances, the fact that Abigail had tried to cover up her relationship with Len but people found out- in a similar way that people try to cover their flaws with makeup but it can easily be taken off.
….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.
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.
More incredibly over-analysed quotes from Sebold’s The Lovely Bones…see other chapters in previous blogs.
~The Analysis (16)~
The most immediate aspect of the chapter that strikes me as interesting is the similarities between Abigail and Ruana- both use distractions to keep themselves from thinking about all they have lost- for Abigail her life before motherhood, now her daughter, for Ruana her husband, and her freedom.
201 “He wore his glasses” “they were thick” “his hand went up immediately to collect them” – again evokes the impression of not being able to be who you really are- he doesn’t want to be seen to be wearing his glasses.
204 “There was something on the other side of the icy surface” – as if her gradual loss of motherhood had left her with something ‘cold’, almost as if she didn’t have a personality outside of motherhood, her gradual reduction was leaving her personality-less. She had been so consumed by motherhood she had nothing to replace it. May seem strange that her maternal instincts could ever allow her to be ‘icy’ towards her own daughter- especially one who has lost her sister.
“Our house looked the same as every other…but it was not the same…murder had a blood red door” 206- as if the murder had given them identity.
207 “I want to be more than a mother” …”wanted to be more than a girl”- desire to always be what you cannot, greedy desire when Susie will never get that choice. Links to mother’s desire to be “free girl again”- Susie has exactly what her mother wants- Susie will never grow up, yet, as expected, she is unhappy with this.
“she comes and she talks to me (Buckley) 208- Sebold still retaining the idea Susie exists among the living.
“I was becoming one of the many little-girl-losts” 209- idea of insignificance, as if she would just fade away into a list of names for the dead. Implies there will be more like Susie, and the same would happen for them. A vicious cycle.
210 “You’re going to catch your death of cold” – ironic since she was killed in what could be considered outside, yet it was not the cold that killed her.
211 “you look invincible”…”I am”- ironic since she was killed at such a young age, yet it could be said she never really died, since she continued to live in a different state in a different life up in heaven.
As before, crazily analysed quotes from Sebold’s The Lovely Bones. I apologise in advance for the essay…
~The Analysis (15)~
188 “Getting caught became another moment of his life that brought fear- that sick feeling…like eggs being folded in a bowl”- here it is noticeable the reference to casual domestic life when in contrast to the seriousness of the subject. Perhaps this quote gives reason for Harvey’s skill of covering the evidence of his murders- he had done it form a child- out of force, sense of duty to his mother, not choice.
“You have to be able to look passed the dead’ his mother said” – as if nothing of his personality we know of as evil and unjust in the book was his choice. He was (and still is) solely a little boy obeying the desires of his equally as lost mother. “Sometimes there are good trinkets to take away from them”- he followed this instruction also.
189 “Do you want the eye or the heart”? … The eye” – Harvey choose to keep the trinket of the eye over the heart- perhaps symbolises his insecurity- an ‘eye’ represents nerves, as if he was constantly on the look out, constantly aware- he had no capacity for love.
190 “he had a moment of clarity about how life should be lived: not as a child nor as a woman. They were to two worst things to be” – as if killing made him either a man or a boy- it was the only way he knew to avoid becoming a woman or a child (perhaps symbolic of weakness?). Or perhaps he will trying to rid the world pf what he thought were ‘the worst things to be’. Making the world a ‘cleaner, nicer place’.
“Take action only after calculating the worst possible outcome” 190- Harvey was the best practised criminal in every way- it was how he had been brought up- the only way he knew to live.
192 “evidence of what they look to be extreme loneliness and a room full of beautiful dolls houses”- the fact they found evidence of his loneliness suggests the extent of it…this makes it seem strange that he could so willingly kill those he brought home, rather then embrace the company he do desperately needed. The significance of the dolls houses: just like a dolls house represents an individual life, he could be building all the lives he could have had, all the families he has lost, keeping them with him, if not in reality.
195 Len taking Abigail to the “filtration system or the water plumbing plant”- all of their encounters have been based around the site of something functional- a filtration system, a fan- perhaps suggesting that their embraces are also only functional- they serve a purpose just s the fan or the system- to help Abigail forget.
195 “I could drown in those eyes Abigail” – again, recurring motif of water, waves, the ocean, drowning. As if the inside of her was so vast and unreachable- the more you spent time with her, the less you understood.
196 “the foreign territory enough to soothe her” “feeling of being unreachable”- she wanted nothing more than to be someone she never had- she is finally achieving her desires of freedom- juxtaposition shows her sorry state of mind, she finds comfort in loosing herself.
“My mother had my body as it would never become” – clarity and reemphasis on the fact that Susie will never grow up.
Same again…more drastically (over)analysed quotes from Sebold’s The Lovely Bones…
~The Analysis (14)~
“Inside the green house” 174- importance of the house not being referred to as ‘Mr Harvey’s house’ but instead the ‘green’ house- as if the colour was enough to evoke a knowledge of who occupied the house. Symbolism of green:
Evokes a sense of nature- calming, stress-relieving. Green stands for balance, nature, spring, and rebirth. It’s the symbol of prosperity, freshness, and progress. The Green Party in the US is inextricably tied to ecological and progressive causes, and a “greenback” is another term for our paper currency. In Japanese culture, green is associated with eternal life, and it is the sacred color of Islam, representing respect and the prophet Muhammad.
Juxtaposes the aspects of Harvey- perhaps represents what he desires to be in a person- represents the ‘shell’ he conceals himself within- the shell of innocence and ‘freshness’, his support for ‘rebirth’ after Susie’s death. Shows what other people see when they see Harvey unaware of his murderous ways- they see him as ‘refreshingly’ different’. A ‘new type of life’.
175- talk of Harvey fashioning a wife out of aspects of the dead and his mother- deeply saddening that he has to make up a life out of the dead and disappeared- It is as if the only love and company he has and will ever know is either dead, disappeared, or made up. A few lined down Susie references his “imagined family”.
175 “He listened to her tell him about her cats and her brother, who had three children, whom she loved, he pictured her sitting on the chair in his basement, dead.”- Harvey interacting with an “attractive heavy woman”- juxtaposition between the innocence of the cats and the children, to the evil nature of Harvey’s desire- dead. The fact he found her attractive and yet wants her dead suggests that is the only way he can show affection or get the company he desires. People will only spend time with him personally when they are dead.
177 “The clouds hung heavy in the sky all day” – pathetic fallacy- creates a gloomy tone mirroring the mood of suspense of worry for Lindsey. Almost as if the weather was trying to help Lindsey by creating a mask from the sun- hence to keep people from wanting to go outside and seeing Lindsey.
180 “She felt encased in something, a fly trapped in a spider’s funeral web”- connotation of flies: insignificant, weak, symbolism: death…etc. As if she were the fly and Harvey the spider- presents Harvey as a predator
182 “together the two of us walked the stairs”- signifies Susie’s resistance to accept her dead state- she associates herself with the living
“Then she went into what had been our bedroom in my house, and she found my killer’s” 182 – significant- unidentified link between Harvey and Susie
“I had died inside that hole” 183- emphasises the lack of glamour in her death- not a desirable way to die- depressing.
“He heard a board creak. He stiffened” – emphasises how he is only used to the presence of the dead- he is not used to the presence of the living. It makes him anxious, uncomfortable (“stiffened”)
“5! 5! 5!” – Symbolism of five:
The Bible numerology code number 5. The number 5 in the Bible is significant because his creation, the ‘man’ has five fingers, five senses and five toes. Thus it is the number of God’s grace. There are five great mysteries: Father, Son, Spirit, Creation and Redemption.
Much reference to Christianity in the book- strange considering Sebold herself is not religious.
“I have shopping to do, a bird to cook. No one seems to realise that we have a family. we have a family, a family and a son, and I’m going”- strange reaction to potential partial solution to death of daughter- mention of monotony, chores 185
“But selfishly, the loss of her on earth to me”- emphasises Susie’s everlasting youth- she will never grow up like everyone else is.
“paper dissolved in my hand” 185 – breach of physical reality- links to fantasy theme
“she was small for her age, as she had been on earth, and she”…repetition of ‘she’ emphasises her lack of identity- she is just ‘another dead girl’ 186
“Because horror on earth is real and it is everyday. It is a flower or like the in”- interesting the juxtaposition between the positivity and life of the sun and flowers and ‘horror’. Element of power about horror, yet suggests it can be power for life. A strength.
It’s in the title really- more elaborate and some rather metaphorically and emotionally ‘deep’ interpretations…
~The Analysis (13)~
•”The rumours…wove in and out of the student’s lockers like the most persistent of snakes” 156– reference to ‘snakes’ could simply be referring to the evil connotations of the animal, emphasising on a basic level the evil nature of the rumours compared to the innocence of Lindsey (and supposedly her father)- links to genre of fantasy (good vs evil). Snakes also have reference to Christianity in the Garden of Eden, from which the connotations of evilness and chaos are evoked:
The interplay between the serpent and Eve in the Garden of Eden counts among the best-known examples of snakes as symbols of temptation. In this example, the snake’s cunning entices Eve to eat the forbidden fruit, unleashing sin and chaos into the world. However, this imagery is not limited to only the Christian Bible. Snakes in Mesopotamian and Egyptian cultures also symbolized chaos.
Snakes also refer to a sense of threat, hence it could be symbolising the threat these rumours pose to Lindsey’s otherwise calm exterior (managed through her emotionless outlook)- and hence the temptation to do what she feels she shouldn’t (link to garden of Eden) and loose control. Lockers also symbolise secrecy, as if the threats are threatening Lindsey’s secrecy, the fact that she really is not fine at all.
“using my father’s debasement as a varnish of cool they couldcoat themselves with” – links to idea throughout novel of wanting to be someone other than that who you are (e.g. Abigail wants to be free of motherhood, Len wants to be free of responsibilities & guilt)- Clarissa and Brian want to be cooler than they are accepted to be. Verb “Varnish” links to desire to conceal what is not desirable.
“everyone I’d known was growing up”- links to novel’s genre as Bildungsroman, sad truth that she will never grow up.
157 “Buckley went…to borrow in the empty cave of my father’s heart”- caves connote mystery, safety, sanctuary- otherwise a cave symbolises something cold and unfeeling, juxtaposing the feeling one would expect a man to have who has children- could suggest how Jack also has the desire to be someone other than the warm and feeling father he is supped to
158 “Which she washed. Which she folded. Which she ironed…” repetition of ‘which she’ emphasises the monotony of the mother’s life. Seeks to explain to the reader why she despises it so much, desires freedom. Elaborated on by sentence following it saturated with connectives, both complex and a compound sentence- elongates the everlasting, tedious impression of life for Abigail. Makes reader empathise with her rather than hate her when she thinks of Len three lines below.
“How odd he might look to an outsider or to my mother” 158 – suggestion of linking Abigail to an outsider, almost defining her as an outsider by placing the noun ‘mother’ after outsider- possible to trace Jack’s thought process: from outsider, to his wife
“they wanted him to shut all signs of his grief away, place it in a file somewhere and tuck it in a drawer, so that no one would be asked to open it again” 159- irony of making an abstract noun seem tangible (goes against the definition), emphasises extent of Jack’s grief- it had almost compounded into a physical object
160 “How to swim back to her…she was pulling and pulling away” – recurring motif of the sea, and the movement of sides- ‘pulling and pulling away’ makes Abigail seem like an anchored boat- wanting to drift away but not being able to- tugging on the string that ties her to the ground. As if their whole world was underwater- suffocating.
160 “If my father fell, only a dog and a boy who loved him would see” – we see the other side to Jack, less of the masculine, family supporting figure and more of the vulnerable, scared man he really is.
161 (another rendition of Abigail’s monotonous life) “the towels my mother bleached, the towels my mother hung…the towels she folded”- sense of insignificance about the mother’s life- it is one string of folding towels
162 “Abigail should be doing this” (with regards to fetching things for Lindsey helping her shave her legs”- Stereotypical and unjustified
163 “A fine trickle of blood beginning to spread into the white foam” contrast between blood red and white links to the description of Susie’s skin ‘that had never seen the sun’ and the blood that spilled from her with Harvey’s knife- blood is wholly symbolic
165 “my corpse cut up, my blank rotting eyes” – gruesome imagery, gothic tone within the novel
“The anchor houses…because the anchored the neighbourhood to an original road” 168/9- sense of belonging, sense of a base, a foundation on which to build lives
“do you know how alone I have always felt…my mother asked her mother”- the juxtaposition between the formality of the nomination “mother” and the hint of personal revelation in the subject- shows that things are changing, they are growing just like everyone else.
“She had never understood places like this- places where her own child had chosen to live” (With reference to living in houses ‘identical in structure’ to another- emphasises how Lynn views being different as a way of life, the prospect of being similar to another person is unrecognisable to her, in-understandable. 170
“I’m not involved with anyone. Her mind flew like a bird from one rooftop to the next”- The simile symbolises freedom, like with Len she had she freedom she always desired outside of her role in motherhood- she can finally be free of responsibility and judgement. Proven by “The pragmatic, prim mistress that my mother had always been had gone”
“Fireflies gathering in a swarm above his front flower beds” 172 (regarding the signs Lynn witnessed to tell her Harvey was a killer- Fireflies symbolize guidance most obvious sign
“The girl was being burned alive, but first, there had been her body, clean and whole” 173 – strange that Abigail refers to this as a “wonderful dream”- as if a death doesn’t remove the fact that they existed initially- hence perhaps this is Abigail coming to accept the death of her daughter- to accept what she was before, not what she was not afterwards.
Needless to say, here are another fusillade of (over) analysed literary quotes from Sebold’s ‘The Lovely Bones’…
~ The Analysis~
“To run out into the cornfield where my father was, where I was, where she felt suddenly that the heart of her family had moved” pg 143 – ironic that the heart of the family had moved to the place where Susie’s heart had stopped- perhaps metaphorical for ‘the lovely bones’ (i.e. the connections that tie the family together, this is an indication that they were present from very early on in the family’s grieving)
“When Lindsey entered; it was just my father and me” pg 144 – reveals how Susie had not let go of the living world, in fact she still classed her self as part of it, on-par with her living father- as if she was with him in the same (living) state that he was.
“the living can go on to other things” “what about the dead… where do we go”? pg 145- emphasises Susie’s childish selfishness- she cares for the living but more so and firstly about herself. Represents the harsh reality that Susie will never grow up, she will remain in this state whilst the rest of the characters continue to progress (Bildungsroman novel)
“…Len said, smiling guiltily” pg 146- the juxtaposition between the ‘smiling’ (connoting happiness and freedom of spirit) and Len’s ‘guilt’ (suggesting lack of ease and discomfort) evoke a sense of duality about Len- as if he is trapped in the world of innocence in his life as a cop yet desires the freedom to rebel and be naughty. This is similar to Abigail who almost regrets entering the responsibility of motherhood and herself seeks rebellion.
“A strange smile came across my mothers face” pg 147- the sibilance of the ‘strange smile’ is snake-like, perhaps signifying that the idea a mother likes the sound of her daughter’s murder was almost so strange it was threatening. The exhalation of the reader when pronouncing the letter “s” could also mimic the mother’s relief at Len’s lack of censorship over the word ‘murder’
“But that No because vague and cloudy, became air sucked into the intake fan of the humming hydrant” pg 148 – alliteration of “h” makes the reader exhale when reading as if to mimic the sound of the fan beside the characters- evokes a sense of environment for readers.
“149 “bath time, she sang” – until the end of the page it is notable how happy Abigail seems to be in motherhood, juxtaposing her otherwise regretful self- this could show the progression of Abigail’s attitude to motherhood (her love for it lessened with the aging of her girls), or alternatively perhaps she always felt the same element of regret for her former life but simply was always good at hiding it. “Reached her in waves” – emphasises the fluctuating levels at which she grieved for her former self- not always the same.
150 “I can go back to these moments, like them again…”- ironic since she can never relive a moment, only replay it- emphases how she refused to let go of the living world.
“she doled out my clothes piecemeal, not wanting to pressure me” 150 – as if mother and daughter had all the time in the world- when in fact this time was soon to end.
“Once my mother was launched I could take advantage of it” pg 151- verb “launched” makes it sound as if Abigail were a computer program, emphasising how her actions were automatic, not considered, forced and not felt.
“my mysterious mother” 151 – alliteration, monosyllabic lexis – the repetition of the soft “m” sound could represent how Susie could sense an ongoing difference in her mother, the trait she called ‘mysterious’. Long “m” sound acts to lengthen the otherwise snappy pace created by the monosyllabic lexis, to emphasise how Susie found this mother intriguing.
“For both of us, it was about getting lost” 151- idea the child and the mother can both be lost inside their relationships- emphasises how perhaps they never really knew each other at all.
“One of the storied my father read to us, and that all of us were on the ocean “…- here we find the recurring theme and motif of the ocean and waves to represent the vast span of mystery within the family, the distance that parts them but also the fact they share in underlying common ground- metaphorically the ‘ocean’.
152 “Marvellous, dangerous, wild” (Len describing Abigail” – emphasises again Len’s desire to be someone other than the PC cop he is desired to be- he is supposed to dislike danger and fear the wild, to tame it, but he finds her ‘marvellous’
152 “She needed Len to drive the dead daughter out” – prominent plosive use (drive, dead, daughter”- perhaps to give the reader a sense of shock, not only was she cheating on her husband, she was also doing it to forget her dead daughter- double betrayal. Alternatively plosives could suggest her passion, the aggressive extent of her need.
“It was my father who grew towards us as the years went by; it was my mother that grew away” 153- almost as if the parents are doing the development and the growth of the children- role reversal- their lives have literally been turned upside down by Harvey, the dynamics of their relationship destroyed.
“Deaths seemed choreographed” 154- as if the deaths were planned and coordinated, foreseen- hence death is unavoidable- just like if you have been involved in a move in a choreographed dance, when that move comes you are compelled to do it, hence when it is your ‘dance’ of death, it is your turn to complete this also. Makes dying seem more harmonious, almost desirable- you want to be part of the choreography of life.
155 The soles are “like snowflakes”
155 “None of them the same…exactly like the one before”- sparks a mental link to the killings of Harvey- all the girls he have killed are individuals, yet they all share similar traits, all finished in an ungraceful, undignified way.