The Lovely Bones | Study Guide

Alice Sebold

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The Lovely Bones | Chapter 10 | Summary



Several months have passed since Susie Salmon's funeral. It's summer now. Lindsey, Samuel Heckler, and Ruth are attending a symposium for gifted students. "They're going to do it," Ruth writes in her journal. She's talking about Lindsey and Sam, and in heaven Susie is following along avidly. Franny tells her that the only way to make the switch is to "stop desiring certain answers ... Simply put, you have to give up on Earth." Susie still doesn't think that's possible.

The new symposium head announces that this year's competition will be "How to Commit the Perfect Murder." Artie, a kid from Susie's grade, manages to tell Lindsey about the new topic before she walks into the food tent for breakfast. Lindsey rushes out of the tent, Samuel following. They lie down under an old, overturned rowboat to wait until things quiet down. There, they make love for the first time.

Susie mentions that "How to Commit the Perfect Murder" is a popular game in heaven. "I always chose the icicle: the weapon melts away." Readers should keep that line in mind.


Handsome, polite, smart, and utterly devoted to Lindsey, Samuel Heckler is a ray of sunshine whenever he appears. Though he and Lindsey are practically blind with lust, Samuel doesn't even want to have sex until the experience can be perfect.

When Lindsey learns that this year's symposium competition will be about committing the perfect murder, Samuel is there for her. "You can stop now," he says, when Lindsey tries to act brave. "We'll just lie here and wait until things quiet down."

Samuel is such a pleasant companion that it's hard to consider him dispassionately. He can walk into the saddest scene and the reader will feel relieved. "Oh, good. Here's Sam." As far as readers know, Samuel and Lindsey never have an argument. They stay together through high school and through Lindsey's years of college, and then they marry and have a healthy child. For the reader, any scene with Samuel in it will be a little oasis. Samuel provides The Lovely Bones with a dose of uncomplicated positivity. Critics may find Samuel's simple goodness a flaw, but it's quite an achievement for Alice Sebold to have created a character who's loved by everyone.

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