Tag Archives: Language and Literature

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.


 

Chapter Sixteen: The Lovely Bones Analysis

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.


 

Chapter Fifteen: The Lovely Bones Analysis

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.


 

Chapter Fourteen: The Lovely Bones Analysis

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.


 

Chapter Twelve: The Lovely Bones Analysis

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.