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.
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 could coat 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.
More perceptive (or quite frankly overly-perceptive, if that is a trait in existence…) interpretations and analysis on Sebold’s THE LOVELY BONES: Chapter 11.
~Chapter 11~ The analysis:
- Pg 126 “My brother was like a rock with a sheet pulled over him” – evokes thoughts of connotation of the dead via the reference to the noun “rock” signifying a cold, emotionless state (like one who is dead)- the sheet pulled across his body also mimic the process of concealing he body of those who have recently died (as seen in hospital dramas for example). Luring the reader into feeling a sense of sorrow for Buckley, or worry that he may be next to join Susie.
- “My father marvelled at what a sound sleeper he was- just like me” – dark irony, since the dead are often referred to as‘sleeping’, linking Buckley to the state of Susie may be designed to scare the reader and evoke a sense of fear and vulnerability for him. “Even banging pot lids to see if he would wake up” – emphasises the dormant impression of Buckley, alsmost seems dead himself. This implication of danger for Buckley is confirmed within the next few lines “my father checked him, just to make sure” pg 126
- “He would find clues…in the green paint coating the shingles, or along the driveway, where two large stones sat, painted white” – repetitive reference and emphasise on the painted nature of the stones lining the outside of Harvey’s house- emphasises a sense of concealment: the paint conceals the surface of the stone just as Harvey’s innocence conceals his guilt. Significance of the emphasise on the white stones:
In colour psychology white is the colour of new beginnings, wiping the slate clean, so to speak. It is the blank canvas waiting to be written upon. While white isn’t stimulating to the senses, it opens the way for the creation of anything the mind can conceive.
- Hence from this it is could be considered this is almost inviting Jack to ‘fill in the blanks’, as if inside the house were the answers to tarnish and taint the purity Harvey projects.
- “I loved the idea that there could be trees in the yard taller and stronger than people” 128 – sense of need for protection, concealment- a barrier to the outside world? Taller could represent her desire for authority and ‘stronger’ her desire for physical or mental strength or ability
- “I had made a warm spot on the floor of the garage until I cooled” 128 – horrific imagery, uncomfortable to read- culinary connotations- reference to warmth and cooling as if Susie was Harvey’s prey, waiting for her to reach a desirable temperature. Ungraceful, uncomfortable- emphasises tragedy- young girls would want to die gracefully and loved, yet Susie is in a sack in a garage and alone, cooling quietly.
- Repetition of finite verb “Knew” – “I knew the floor plan” “I knew the bathroom” “Knew how in my house…”- sense of subjectivity: did she know because of the mirrored nature of their houses, hence was this foreboding her destiny- the fact that she was born and grew up in that same house, and it was in an almost identical one next door that she died.
- “Porcelain was yellow and the tile on the floor was green” 128- odd combination- emphasises eccentric nature
- “Doll’s houses” – interesting connotations: Note that the doll house is “perfect”. All the walls are papered, there is carpet (represents the perfect childhood Harey never had), but the dolls in the house, the people, are “stiff” — they don’t seem to belong there- they are unable to enjoy the luxury right before them (sense of missed opportunities, outsiders in luxury, insecurity).
- “Not to alter his pattern…set several clocks…when to open the blinds…when to close them…turn lights on…off…” “He kept things to count, and this counting reassured him” 128 – sense of necessity for structure juxtaposes his spontaneous un-structured childhood- or sense of autism- as if everything had to be exact- need for repetition and hatred for change
- “He would count them like beads on a rosary” – significance of rosary beads, what are they: (129)
Prayer beads, sometimes called rosary beads, are used in the practice of meditation and prayer.
The meaning of the Rosary is simply a Catholic prayer based upon the Bible that focuses on the events in the life of Jesus and that of Mary the Mother of Jesus.
- Emphasises how he felt a sense of tranquillity and calmness from his killings. Juxtaposition to Christianity shows that perhaps Harvey didn’t know what he was doing was wrong
- “He liked to hold the leather heel and rub it between his thumb and forefinger- a perfect worry stone” – Definition of a worry stone: Worry stones (palm stones, thumb stones) are smooth, polished gemstones, usually in the shape of an oval with a thumb-sized indentation, used for relaxation or anxiety relief. They are used by holding the stone between the index finger and thumb and gently moving one’s thumb back and forth across the stone. Juxtaposed in every way to show how Harvey in himself was almost the complete opposite of the rest of society – rubber is unpolished, it is tarnished, not gem-stone like
- 131 “He had killed animals, taking lesser lives…” – links to the Christian belief: Early Christians regarded human beings as greatly superior to all other animals. After all, human beings were made in the image of God, and God chose human form for his earthly life. Furthermore, God clearly decreed that human beings should have power over non-human animals. LINKS TO CONTEXT Christianity is the most adhered to religion in the United States, with 70% of polled American adults identifying themselves as Christian in 2014.
- 131- “the dog wouldn’t judge from the spot” Juxtaposes symbolism of a dog: In Asian wisdom dogs are symbols of: Good Luck, Loyalty, Obedience and Prosperity. – shows how something was seriously wrong.
- 135 “My father was slowly fitting something together…….it was in my mothers eyes”- juxtaposition between the vast and in-understandable connotations of the ‘ocean’ within Abigail’s eyes and the knowledge Jack has gained from them- suggests a sense of closeness in their relationship, ironic since the sitation is geared around her closeness with Len.
- Recurring motif of candle- particularly 136- religious symbolism:
- Significance of Susie : “I blew that lonely, flickering candle out”- after her annoyance at not being able to help her father, not being able to cast clues- as if she had given up on the hope of being found, she was extinguishing the spirit of truth.
This book forms part of my studies for (surprise surprise:) English…hence since I seem to be rebelling again the idea of a theme within this blog, I thought I’d add a bit of analysis within it. Why not. *refrains from using abbreviated hashtags*.
Side note of significance: The recurring theme of rabbits…in terms of symbolism, it generally goes as follows-
Symbolic rabbit meanings deal primarily with abundance, comfort, and vulnerability. Traditionally, rabbits are associated with fertility, sentiment, desire, and procreation. Rabbit meanings are also closely linked to the seasons, the changes of Mother Earth, and specifically Springtime.
In the previous chapter the rabbits become apparent for the second time- they sought out the gloves of Susie’s left by Lindsey. They “investigated” them. This could be Sebold juxtaposing two things: Susie (symbolised by the gloves), and the rabbits. The rabbits (as noted above) are representative of comfort, fertility, desire, procreation- all of the thing Susie can never have and will never be. Thus perhaps the rabbits represent all that Susie can never have, or they may highlight how far from them she is, in both body and spirit. On a literal level, she if far away. And spiritually, she is too, since she is a ghost and they are living- in two different worlds.
Alright…now onwards with chapter seven: things to point out-
- “Like everyone else I was trying to protect him (Buckley)”- he is trapped in his youth and is isolated by the lack of knowledge this brings him. The good of others is isolating him. pg 91
- “graphic prints meant to stimulate children” – indication into the lack of parenting- pictures replace the attention parents were supposed to give. pg 92
- “Lindsey would tell the night that she had to move on”pg 92 – ironic since this was exactly her coping strategy when she lost Susie. As if she had already grieved/ developed a method before even knowing what would happen. Foreboding? (Since Susie acted as the dead knight…and she was the one who actually died.)
- “there was a hole…. inside things I didn’t want anyone else to see” pg 93- here develops the recurring motif of a hole, especially for the purpose of hiding things (in Susie’s case it was her personal objects, in Harvey’s, is was his desire (to kill)). It could be giving a false sense of hope: Susie’s hole beneath her bed was where she kept things she wanted no one to see, yet they were found. Is this Sebold suggesting that what was inside Harvey’s hole beneath the ground will too be discovered?
- there is the “stained and bloody twig” that almost killed Buckley. It is ironic that something so insignificant and small (not even a branch or a stick, it is a ‘twig’) could (on the juxtaposing side) cause so much damage. Reader can almost imagine the twig in Buckley’s throat- horrific imagery. pg 93
- “Painting toenails” “glitter” “seventeen”- lexical field of youth and glamour- juxtaposes the blood and gory nature of what it so come for Buckley. Also juxtaposes the lack of elegance in Susie’s death. pg 93
- “A breeze came up, blowing the fringe on my cutoffs against my thighs”- pathetic fallacy- using the weather to express a calm, tranquil mood. Almost synaesthesia- as if the breeze was audible and the fringe tickling her legs was a sense of touch. pg 94
- “Swung” “ran” “slid down the banister” “jumped…the fence”- semantic field of heroism. Scene of saviour.
- “Buckley was choking. His body bucking”…strange coincidence that his near death experience sounds similar to the name his parents gave him? Hint at the fate of live? pg 94
- When Lynn suggests Susie will have a long life, Susie notes “as usual…was wrong”. As if Susie should of known then that she was not to live a full life. As if when Lynn said something it was always wrong, hence she should have expected to die. Suggestion of a series of clues leading up to her death. Fate? pg 94
- “Wow, Nate said…marvelling at how over time red blood turned black” – mimics the scene with Harvey holding the knife he used to kill Susie. Foreboding? pg 94
- “Crows were lined up, their beaks holding crooked twigs”. Take note of the symbolism of crows: they’re cunning, symbolise death, war, sign of change (e.g. new beginning / impending death. Could it be relevant there is the mention of a “widow” a few lines prior, and a few chapters on Susie’s grandfather joins her in heaven, presumably leaving someone a “widow” on earth? Hence the impending death may seem insignificant to the reader, but when analysed it could be a clue.