The Lovely Bones | Study Guide

Alice Sebold

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The Lovely Bones | Chapter 22 | Summary



As Ruth collapses, Susie Salmon's soul falls out of heaven—and into Ruth's body. She realizes she's lying on the ground and looking up at Ray Singh through Ruth's eyes. Ruth's soul is escaping at the same time. Ruth isn't dead, but she's on her way to heaven. Ray helps Susie to the car and asks where she wants to go. In an instant, Susie realizes that she no longer cares about catching Mr. Harvey. "I looked at Ray and knew why I was there." For eight years, she's longed to be with Ray. This moment is her chance.

She asks Ray to drive her to Hal Heckler's bike shop. It begins to dawn on him that this really is Susie inside Ruth's body. They make love, but Susie is aware that her time on Earth is limited. Too soon, she stops being able to feel Ray's touch, and the room fills with the spirits of both adults and children. Just before she vanishes entirely, she tells Ray to read Ruth's journals.

While Ray is taking a shower, Susie walks over to Hal's desk. Without thinking, she picks up the phone and dials the Salmons' home number. The call goes through, and Buckley Salmon answers, but he can't hear Susie's voice. She realizes that she is sitting up and watching Ruth, who is sprawled across Hal's desk.

When Ray gets out of the shower, he sees Ruth and wakes her. "She did not have to say anything. He knew that I was gone," states Susie.


Much of the explanation regarding the body switch between Susie Salmon and Ruth is provided in the beginning of The Lovely Bones.

In Chapter 2, a few days after Susie has arrived in heaven and is feeling bored, Franny asks what she wants. When Susie says she doesn't know, Franny answers, "If you desire it enough and understand why—really know—it will come."

Franny is talking about ways Susie can improve her personal heaven, and Susie takes her words to heart. She fashions a beautiful environment, but the thing Susie most desires is on Earth. She wants to experience love with Ray Singh.

Susie has a second intense desire: to bring her murderer to justice. The two desires converge when Mr. Harvey's car passes Ruth and she collapses.

Another piece of Franny's advice is evoked in this scene. In Chapter 10, Susie asks when she'll get to the "real" heaven, as opposed to her personal heaven: "How do you make the switch?" Franny answers that it's not easy: "You have to give up on Earth."

By the time Susie leaves Ruth's body, she has won her heart's desire. Now she can give up on Earth; there is nothing more that she needs here. Hal Heckler's grimy bike shop fills with the spirits of adults and children to escort her out. She's going back to heaven—the real heaven: "This time I was accompanied, not ripped away, and I knew we were taking a long trip to a place very far away."

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