The Lovely Bones | Study Guide

Alice Sebold

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The Lovely Bones | Epilogue: Bones | Summary

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Summary

Susie Salmon is now in a different, larger, even more beautiful heaven than her original private heaven. The souls here have fun helping humans; one year, Susie makes all the different plants in Buckley Salmon's garden come up at the same time. Though Susie is happy in heaven, she still occasionally still watches her family. "I can't help it," she says. They also still think of her. "They can't help it."

Ruth's father promises to sell the old house to Samuel Heckler and Lindsey if Samuel will pay him in labor in his new restoration business. Lindsey studies to become a therapist. Mr. Salmon hopes that one day he'll be able to teach another child to love ships in bottles.

Grandma Lynn has died, but Susie hasn't seen her yet. She assumes her grandmother is still in a heaven of her own and will join Susie's heaven when she's ready. Susie spends time with her grandfather. One afternoon, they visit a diner he used to like and see Mr. Harvey getting off a bus. As Mr. Harvey drinks coffee in the diner, he watches a teenage girl, follows her out of the diner, and tries to chat with her, but the girl walks away.

Watching, Susie spots icicles hanging over Mr. Harvey's head. One of them falls, causing him to stumble. He pitches forward into a ravine, and his body isn't discovered for weeks.

Ten years after Susie's death, Lindsey and Samuel have a baby girl whom they name Abigail Suzanne.

Analysis

In this epilogue, Susie Salmon is speaking not from her personal heaven but from a much larger place. By learning to detach herself from Earth, she has proved that she's ready for the real thing. It's slightly disappointing that Alice Sebold spent so much time describing Susie's former heaven; she seems to have little energy left for describing the new one. "Cakes and pillows and colors galore" sounds more like a children's birthday party than Paradise. "This wide Heaven is about flathead nails and ... escaped marbles," Susie adds. "We have fun." Readers may want to say point out that in Susie's personal heaven, she had her own ice cream parlor.

In other words, this heaven has been conceived by an author who wants to finish the story. Sebold should have spent more time on the last few pages.

But the final scene with Mr. Harvey is wrenching. The action dimly echoes what happened back in Chapter 1. Mr. Harvey is again stalking a young girl with the intent of killing her—but by this point, Mr. Harvey has no power left. He doesn't even scare the teenage girl he tries to chat up. "He was another boring old man in bad clothes." He doesn't even own the rattletrap car he was driving in Chapter 21.

Mr. Harvey deserves the death that Susie may or may not have caused. But it's still sad that this blighted human being ends up dying alone.

Thankfully, the reader doesn't have long to ponder Mr. Harvey's death. He exits, and a new life enters: Lindsey's and Samuel Heckler's baby, Abigail Suzanne.

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