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.
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.
Another fusillade of ‘brief’ literary analysis…which will inevitably end up being a full-blown essay at the hands of my overly obsessive self.
Chapter nine ~the analysis~
- “My parents were like sleepwalkers” pg 98~ non-desirable representation of parents, almost scary, gothic-like representation. Emphasises lack of conscience, as if a part of their strength and will died alongside Susie. Amplifies devastation. JUXTAPOSITION: sleep is associated with peace, which parents are clearly not experiencing.
- “A miscalculated circling, a sad, partnerless dance” pg 99 ~ (describing Lynn’s attempts to understand her daughter)~ pessimistic view of life- if a mother cannot understand their own child after so many years, what hope is there for anyone else. Isolated view of life, as if a man is confined by human nature, we are all fundamentally ‘sad’ and ‘partnerless’. METAPHOR for life? JUXTAPOSITION between connotations of dance and defined sadness and isolation. Complex sentence structure links to indication of the complexity of life- the need for ‘calculation’ and the fact more often than not it is ‘miscalculated’
- “She was, in all her obnoxious finery, dragging the light back in” pg 100 ~ (regarding the fact it is surprising and unforeseen that Lynn, as mad as she is portrayed, could bring good to such a dismal situation) ~ very interesting on a literal level ~ “light” = abstract noun (a noun that isn’t tangible), yet the metaphor “dragging” with regards to the light makes it sound deliberately tangible. Hence to read the clause sounds as absurd and ridiculous as the subject of the sentence- the idea of dragging light is just as strange as Lynn bringing it in.
- “The makeup brought out the blue of her eyes” (Linsdey)~ evokes a sense of similarity to her mother’s ‘ocean eyes’ 103~ sense of foreboding, as if she is to become as personally lost and engulfed in a life she doesn’t want as her mother is now.
- “Like gems imported from some far-off place where the colours were richer than the colours in our house had ever been.” 103 (describing Lindsey’s new make-up facial features)~ complexity of sentence along with the linguistic choices make the clause sound almost poetic- links to sense of tranquillity and harmony within the mind of Lindsey as she inspects herself in the mirror. Lindsey’s self appreciation juxtaposes her previous lack of self-opinion. Wouldn’t previously even look in the mirror.
- “I wanted to snake up my father’s back, circle in his neck, whisper in his ear” 109 ~ use of snake is significant- connotes threat and danger, yet it is assumable Susie is implying an act of comfort. Perhaps this is how the Salmons view the world around them: kindness and contact is threatening, it is dangerous and scary since this type of contact grows less common as the family detonates. “But I was already there in his every pore and crevice” ~gothic tone.
(Chapter 8 I omitted from the analysis since it is such a short chapter. Following chapters to come.)
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