The Lovely Bones

Topics: Love

Novel text: The lovely bones A study of the writing techniques Sebold uses to engage with the readers. Focus on: 1. Narrative style -1st Person Narrative -Tone -Imagery 2. Use of Flashbacks 3. Symbols 4. Names of characters Themes: ? Death ? Grief ? Healing ? Loss of innocence ? Isolation /Ostracism ? Family relationships -coping with loss and change Study of Techniques 1. NARRATIVE STYLE First Person -An intimate relationship is formed immediately so that we side with Susie instantly and begin to allow ourselves to be consumed by Susie’s tragedy -1st sentence.

She confides in us -not only rape/murder (Chap 1), but her first kiss (p14), the secret, revealing photo of her mother (p 43), her hiding spots (p145) etc, we form a relationship of trust. “I WANT TO GROW UP” – P19 Tone -Unsentimental tone -Chilling description -see imagery (imagery and tone work together to create sympathy) -Sebold’s narrative is void of feeling and sentiment -as if she does this so we the readers fill it with our own emotive reactions – empathy Imagery The strong and graphic imagery used evokes a strong emotional reaction from the reader -uses strong imagery to reinforce relationship between Susie and reader because we feel deep sympathy for what has happened to Susie.

-“fitting my limbs together”-p8 -“he had put me in a waxy cloth sack…tumbled together with my knees fingers and toes…” -p50 -“town of floating graves” – p182 USE OF FLASHBACKS -a technique that acts as a vehicle in allowing us to understand characters better, and feel sympathy for them flashbacks are scattered right through the novel Different ways flashbacks are used: Sympathy for Susie -Happy, normal childhood memories juxtaposed with her cruel reality.

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– first kiss p13 -Everything precious memory of Susie’s is ruined by Mr. Harvey -flashbacks stylistic device used to further our hatred for Mr. Harvey and our sympathy for Mr. Harvey. – sinkhole p51 -Technique of contrast -contrast present sadness of her life with youthful happiness of her stolen past.

To understand characters – contrast them before and after Susie’s death -we see them deal with death, loss grief in different ways. Jack Salmon – Many memories of him being perfect father, p7, p51 then we see him deteriorate to a broken man carrying the guilt of not being there for Susie when she needed him – p58 – Contrast of happy memories with Abigail – strong marriage to breakdown of marriage due to Susie’s death. Mr. Harvey -Even as the villain, flashbacks are used to conjure sympathy for Mr. Harvey.

They are used to expose his disturbing/traumatic childhood and force the reader to see him as once innocent and more human. p188- 189, p97 With these flashbacks we must consider Mr. Harvey as a victim and his own inability to deal with loss and grief, (like Jack Salmon they both ostracize themselves from society). 3. SYMBOLS There is much symbolism within the text – just a few to consider: To symbolise theme of healing and loss Salmon family must accept Susie’s death and find a new support structure amongst themselves.

The charm keystone represents the support structure of a bridge that everything depends on to remain standing – Susie is who tied the family together she was the keystone to the Salmon family, once charm is taken by Mr. Harvey, the Salmon family’s support network breaks down -they must build a new support network amongst themselves. Susie’s broken bones symbolize Salmon’s broken family structure -as Susie is in heaven piecing together her bones the Salmon family must gather together and form a new structure to find closure to their grief. once all characters heal, build new family structure by end of book -“these were the lovely bones that had grown in my absence” p320 Water – rain and showers The symbolic washing away of pain and finding closure to their pain -Lindsey runs home in the rain -finally she is able to close the open wound of her sister’s death – p 242 -Susie makes love to Ray in the shower-it was one of the last things she does before she is reconciled to the fact that she no longer is needed on earth and she can retire to heaven, her healing is complete p278 -it rains when Jack and Abigail reunite in the hospital, and rekindle their marriage, they have both dealt with Susie’s death differently and are healed. NAMES OF CHARACTERS Susie Salmon -shortened name -establishes notion of familiarity between reader and Susie -creates intimacy. It is an endearing, cute, can be connected with innocence and purity. The name highlights her age and how Susie will never grow up = sympathy. Established from very outset of book, therefore relationship established from outset -no change.

Lindsey Salmon -Name never changes, it is resolute, tough, constant -like Lindsey. As the name cannot be shortened or changed, neither can the events that have taken place in her life – she must learn to deal with them. Abigail Salmon -throughout the novel she undergoes an identity crisis -Susie’s death raises questions about Abigail’s identity -her name thus changes a number of times to reflect this. She is ‘Mom’, ‘Abigail’ and at one point completely nameless when she is the most confused about her actions.

P42, 152, 62 For Abigail, when there is a change of name there is a change in her character. Mr. Harvey – Susie refers to him as Mr. Harvey -irony as he does not deserve the title and respect. Also creates distance between him and character -reinforces his ostracism. Name is simple -contrasts to his complicated life. Name is generic anyone could be a murderer, he camouflages himself in the disguise of a generic name. Only referred to as George Harvey by Len Fernmen and in childhood flashbacks supposed to show human side to him, see him as a victim to Jack’s “mad’ accusations and sad childhood.

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The Lovely Bones. (2017, Dec 08). Retrieved from

The Lovely Bones
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