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Free Online Notes for The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold-Study Guide
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SYMBOLISM / MOTIFS / IMAGERY / SYMBOLS

The Keystone State / Charm and the charm bracelet - They represent Susie.

The old shoe from the Monopoly game - It represents Susie to Buckley.

The funeral pyre in Abigail’s dream - Symbolically, Abigail can burn away her old self and begin again.

The women on the widow’s walk of Susie’s house in Heaven - They symbolize Harvey’s victims.

The bloody twig - It symbolizes Susie’s belief that rescue is always possible.

The amber necklace - This represents George Harvey’s mother who was forced out of his father’s car, left in the desert, and never seen again.

The “bag o’magic” - Grandmother Lynn’s bag of makeup represents a respite from the grief of Susie’s death.

Susie’s room - For every member of her family, this symbolizes a place where she is still alive.

The Porch Light - It has been left on continuously and represents the family’s belief that she will come home. When Jack turns it out to try to catch Harvey in the cornfield, it represents that, with the capture of her murderer, there will be closure for Susie’s family. Unfortunately, he is never caught and Susie never comes home.


The Candle - Blowing it out is the only thing Susie is able to accomplish from Heaven as she watches her father assaulted. It represents her frustration and unhappiness that she can’t do more to ease their pain.

The “hard-blessed hours” - This is how Susie refers to the time when her father is mercifully asleep after his surgery. It represents a time during which he can stop thinking about his dead daughter.

The Inbetween - This is where Susie resides in her Heaven. It is the place between Earth and Heaven where she and her family are stuck. They can’t go forward into the future. It’s representative of Purgatory.

The Number 5 - It was the last thing Mr. Harvey had seen of Lindsey running away from his house. It symbolizes to him the time when his world comes crashing down.

The Map - Franny gives it to Susie and it leads her to all of Mr. Harvey’s victims. It represents comfort in that she finally knows she’s not alone.

The Eye Charm - Mr. Harvey’s mother had given it to him after they stole it from a roadside memorial. It symbolizes how he’s always watching for his next victims.

The air filtration system in the mall - To Abigail, it represents her own heart.

“Ocean Eyes” - This nickname Jack gives Abigail represents her beautiful eyes that men want to drown themselves in, but which often have no love in them to give back.

The college books - When Abigail begins to read them again, it symbolizes that she’s getting ready to leave her family.

The front door of the Salmon home - It looks like every other door in the development, but it symbolizes the blood red of murder.

Mr. O’Dwyer’s Songs - They represent a time when Susie felt invincible.

Daffodils - These flowers represent Susie.

The Snow Globe - To Susie’s father, this is Susie.

The Ships in the Bottles - These projects, completed by Susie and her father, represent a time when she was needed and loved.

Strings and Cords - They symbolize the bonds of the family and the chains that Susie’s death has helped create between them.

The Ticking Clock - It hangs above Jack’s hospital bed and represents not only the possibility that time is running out for him, but also that time has already run out for Susie.

The Wrecked Ship - Jack thinks of his relationship with Abigail as a wrecked ship, but with remnants that can be salvaged.

The Lovely Bones - They represent Susie’s body, but also the connections that cement her family together.

The Icicle - In reality, it is only frozen water that can eventually melt away. To Susie, it’s a softer way to die. For Mr. Harvey, it is death itself.

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