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Free Online Notes for The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold-Study Guide
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FREE CHAPTER SUMMARY FOR THE LOVELY BONES

CHAPTER 3

Summary

In this chapter, Susie explains how she and Holly would watch souls leaving bodies all over Earth. They would see a soul touch a living body on its way to heaven and the living person would never actually see the dead soul, but would know that something had changed around her. This happens when Susie dies. She touches a girl named Ruth Connors, who went to her school, but whom she didnít know very well. She says she couldnít help herself touch the girl, because she died so violently and wasnít able to calculate her steps. The next day, Ruth tells her mother that she had a dream that she saw a pale running ghost coming toward when she was crossing through the faculty parking lot. Her motherís rejection of such an experience being real makes Ruth keep it to herself and begin writing dark poetry and looking up everything she can find out about Susie.

Ruthís obsession for Susie grows to the point that, when she sees Clarissa, Susieís best friend, making out in the school hallway with Brian Nelson, she burgles the girlís locker and smokes all the marijuana Brian has hidden there. She smokes it all, even though she has never smoked pot before, and looks at pictures of Susie. Susie just wishes she get Ruth to focus on finding her charm bracelet which Susie thinks might help. It is a clue as well, but it is no longer in the cornfield.

In Susieís Heaven, she now has a gazebo to sit under and the air smells lightly of skunk, a smell she had always loved. She sits there for whole days and nights watching all the events of her school, her friends, and her family. She sees Holly and when she shivers, Holly questions why. Susie replies that she canít help thinking of her mother. Holly takes her hand and smiles, but doesnít offer the comforting embrace Susie craves. She knows Holly is not her mother and she canít pretend she is. She then remembers receiving an Instamatic camera for her eleventh birthday. She had opened the package, thinking that everyone was still asleep, loaded the film and looked for something or someone to photograph. She found her mother sitting on the back porch. Her mother didnít hear her and Susie was taken with her motherís stare. It stretched to infinity. She was, in that moment, not Susieís mother. She remembered her father calling her mother Ocean Eyes, because, she had always thought, her eyes were so blue. But now she knows he used that name, because her motherís eyes are bottomless, a realization that frightens her. For inside the oceans of her motherís eyes, there is loss. Susie took her picture.


Then, she sees Lindsey get up in the night and go to Susieís room, a room which had not been touched since the day Susie disappeared. Her sister wanders the room touching things until she comes across the picture Susie had taken of their mother. Lindseyís deep breath indicates to Susie that this is the first time her sister has seen this mother-stranger, too. Susie feels bad, because she wanted to be the only one in the house who knew her mother was also someone else, someone mysterious and unknown to them.

Susie wishes she could break through to her family and on December 23rd, she does. Her father goes to his den to clean it and sees all the ships in bottles he had made. He had always allowed Susie to pull the string that opened the sails of the ships when he was finished. He becomes so enraged that he smashes every single model he made. Not knowing how, at that moment, Susie reveals her face in all the shards of glass that lay everywhere. It is only a second, but her father sees her. He runs for Susieís bedroom and sobs on her bed. Buckley wanders in and sees his father in tears. Her father gathers her little brother into the sheet from Susieís bed that still smells of her special scent and remembers how Susie would sleep so soundly that she would fall out of bed and still not wake up. A few months before she died, her father had found her on the floor again, but, this time, Buckley was curled up beside her. It makes him realize that, perhaps, he can find Susie in his young son. Susie thinks, ďThe line between the living and the dead could be, it seemed, murky and blurred.Ē

Notes

Ruthís profound experience with Susieís soul and her resulting obsession will foreshadow how she later helps Susie gain her greatest desire in heaven. We also see how profoundly Susieís own death has impacted on herself, because she looks for her mother in Holly, only to realize there will be no comfort there. Her death has also impacted Ruth and her father as well, who is still in the stage of anger. His breaking of all the models, however, allows him to see Susie and for a moment, along with the comfort Buckley brings him, it is enough.

We are also introduced to Susieís charm bracelet which becomes a metaphor of her. Each charm represents something to those who loved her and Susie believes it can help Ruth know who she is if Ruth can just find it.

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