The Lovely Bones | Study Guide

Alice Sebold

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The Lovely Bones | Chapter 7 | Summary



Four-year-old Buckley Salmon and his friend Nate are heading up the stairs to the Salmons' second floor when Buckley suddenly asks if Nate can see Susie Salmon. Nate sees no one, and he doesn't believe it when Buckley tells him that Susie visits him. But Buckley is right: Susie has begun visiting him.

Buckley shows Nate a hiding place in the box spring of Susie's bed. The boys recognize only one of the items hidden there: a bloody twig.

The scene flashes back to a year earlier, when Susie is minding the boys. Buckley holds a twig in his mouth like a cigarette and accidentally swallows it. Though she's only 13, Susie puts Buckley in her father's Mustang and drives him, by some kind of instinct, to the hospital, saving his life.

In heaven, Susie feels faint when she remembers the emergency. It's dark, and her eyes suddenly make out a building she's never been in—a hulking Victorian house. For a second, Susie thinks she sees a row of women standing on the widow's walk and pointing at her. Next instant, she sees that they're only crows with twigs in their beaks. Walking home, she wonders whether Buckley really saw her a few minutes ago. "Or was he merely a little boy telling beautiful lies?"


Chapter 7 is very short, more like a fragment than a full chapter. It's a peek into Buckley Salmon's special relationship with his dead sister. Although four-year-old children are too young to reliably tell the difference between fact and fantasy, somehow Buckley doesn't seem like a child who would lie about seeing Susie Salmon.

It's still not exactly clear how much control Susie has over letting people see her. She's afraid that letting herself miss Buckley will cause her face to appear to him. This suggests that people on Earth can see Susie if she's feeling strongly emotional about them. On the other hand, her nighttime visits to Buckley sound intentional, but the reader isn't shown how she gets there.

The reader has no real need for clarity on this issue. The Lovely Bones isn't the kind of book that provides complicated explanations for strange events. The fact that Susie appears to Buckley should be enough.

The last image in the chapter—the Victorian house with a widow's walk—is disturbing. Heaven is unconventional in The Lovely Bones, but even so, it seems unexpected that Susie might mistake what she's seeing in her own personal heaven. Pointing at someone is one way of accusing him or her. The twigs in the crows' beaks seem accusatory as well. Both visions seem to show how guilty Susie feels about leaving Buckley behind.

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