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Free Online Notes for The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold-Study Guide
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OTHER ELEMENTS

FORESHADOWING

There are several other literary devices that pop up at various times in the story. The most prevalent one is foreshadowing which frequently presents clues of something that will happen later in the novel. For example, when Susie is walking home and meets up with Mr. Harvey, several factors present themselves as warnings she never heeds: his cologne fills the air even before she sees him, he knows her name, but she really doesn’t know him; why would a grown man have a hiding place?

Other examples include:

1.) Ruth’s eccentric thoughts about rabbits and stuffed animals prepare us for the life she leads later in New York City.

2.) Susie’s obsession with Ray will prepare us for the love scene at the end of the novel.

3.) Abigail Salmon’s attraction for Detective Fenerman begins in her home as she draws stick figures on Buckley’s butcher paper.

4.) Susie’s envy of Lindsey’s first sexual experience will prepare us for how she fulfills her dream of having that same experience later in the novel. Ruth’s obsession will also prepare us for her role in Susie’s dream.


5.) Abigail’s request to her mother to use her father’s cabin if she wants to get away and her dream of a whole, fresh body prepares us for her leaving her family later in the novel.

6.) Susie’s sudden knowledge of the names of all of Mr. Harvey’s victims prepares us for them appearing in her Heaven.

7.) Abigail’s retreat from her family and her refusal to comfort her own daughter prepares us for her ability to walk away and leave her children later in the novel.

8.) Abigail’s memory of Jack’s office visit and the discussion of congestive heart failure prepare us for the heart attack he has later.

9.) Mr. Harvey packing up his trophies and throwing the knife in the hole in the foundation prepares us for his escape before Len Fenerman can question him.

10.) Susie’s enduring thoughts about her first kiss with Ray Singh prepare us for the next chapter after she “falls to earth.”

11.) When Susie says at the end of this chapter, “And I was gone,” it prepares us for her finally coming to terms with her death and her ability to let go of the living. Her grandfather had told her she was almost there. Now she is.

IRONY

Another element that is important to note is irony - when something happens, or is seen, or is heard that we may know, but the characters do not, or that appears opposite of what is expected. In this novel, irony often makes us stop for a moment and have that “What if?” feeling about the characters. Some examples of irony include:

1.) Mrs. Flanagan’s remarks, “What do you have in here? A dead body?” when Mr. Harvey brings her the safe holding the actual body of Susie. She doesn’t know what the reader knows.

2.) Mr. Salmon turns to his daughter for comfort rather than him comforting her, this, in spite of the fact that he feels guilty for not protecting Susie.

3.) Mr. Harvey uses his victims’ names to refer to his imaginary wife.

4.) Mrs. Salmon turns to inanimate objects for comfort - cigarettes, counting china and silver - rather than her family.

5.) Jack Salmon envies a boy he has never met - Ray Singh - because the boy had done what he wishes he had done: tell Susie he loved her.

6.) Ruana Singh is beautiful and sophisticated, but she tells Jack Salmon that if she were in his place, she would kill Mr. Harvey when the time was right. This is so opposite to the appearance she presents that it becomes ironic.

7.) It’s ironic that Susie still believes rescue is possible, but she was unable to rescue herself.

8.) Susie is in Heaven, but is still unhappy and feels alone.

9.) Susie’s first sexual experience was so horrific while Lindsey’s is so loving

10.) It is ironic that Jack goes into the field to kill who he thinks is Mr. Harvey, but is attacked himself.

11.) It is Lindsey, the child, singing a song of comfort to her father, rather than the other way around.

12.) Mr. Harvey leaves his house to stalk other children and this is when Lindsey is able to enter that house to get evidence which might convict him.

13.) Susie’s mother tells her one summer night that she looks invincible, but later Susie is murdered.

14.) Samuel and Lindsey are looking for shelter from a storm and find the house of their dreams.

15.) Jack comes to the same realization that Susie did when she saw the mysterious face of mother and took her picture: her mother was unhappy in her marriage and Jack didn’t see it when his children did.

16.) Ruth is fascinated with places like the sinkhole and feels the need to see it one more time with Ray before it is filled in. This is Susie’s burial place even though they don’t know it.

17.) Just when she is warring within herself over her desire for her father to die, Susie meets her long-dead grandfather and finds the comfort she needs to move away from that thought.

18.) Buckley’s seeds - symbols of rebirth and a new beginning - trigger a heart attack that may actually mean death for Jack.

19.) Susie had been afraid, as a little girl, that the sinkhole would swallow her and then it really did when Mr. Harvey buried her there in the iron safe.

20.) It’s ironic that Susie’s charm bracelet is finally found when it’s no longer needed, not even by her.

21.) Mr. Harvey’s death comes about because of the best murder weapon in Susie’s mind: the icicle, which she hoped Samuel and Lindsey would use for The Perfect Murder project.

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