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Free Online Notes for The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold-Study Guide
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Lindsey begins to case the Harvey house as she runs every day with the soccer team. Mr. Harvey sees her and begins to “itch.” This family has been crowding him for almost a year. He had been successful in other towns and states where the family also suspected him, but he had always been able to convince the police of his innocence. He leaves the house every day for an hour or two and walks with children on school tours. If anyone looks suspiciously at him, he just retreats to his car. Men in the parks at the same time often look back at him with questions on their faces, because they can see what his victims see: “his wild and bottomless lust.”

On November 26, 1974, Lindsey sees Mr. Harvey leave his house and she begins to hang back from the pack of runners. Susie sees her and marvels, calling her a woman, a spy, a jock. She smashes in a basement window and lowers herself into Mr. Harvey’s house. She feels something in the air there that makes her cringe, but she moves on, knowing she only has about forty minutes to explore. She sees this decision to go into the house of the enemy as something to give her father and her a way to free themselves from Susie. The layout of the house is identical to her own house and as she walks through it, she is reminded of all the memories that happened in her own home at the same spots in his.

Suddenly, she sees Susie darting through what was the dining room in her own home. She runs after her and Susie, who is pushing her hard in the Inbetween, fears she might hurt her when she only means to help. Lindsey becomes breathless in the heavy atmosphere of the house and Susie realizes that her sister is not alone and she is not her only company. What he has done and the women and children he has killed are there and Susie suddenly knows their names and the way they died. She sees the trace they had left behind as they left Earth, but she must let them go and help her sister. Susie leads her upstairs just as Lindsey thinks she hears something. Lindsey quickly looks around the room that would have been Susie’s in their house and sees Mr. Harvey’s sketchbook. The sound she had heard is that of a car pulling up, braking, and the door being slammed shut. But Lindsey leafs through the sketch book anyway until she reaches the final page. This page is labeled “Stolfuz Cornfield,” and is the one where Susie died. She rips out the page just as she hears Mr. Harvey in the kitchen. He hears the floor squeak and comes quickly to investigate. Lindsey breaks out the screen of the window and rolls down the porch roof and into some bushes and muck. She is unhurt and runs away as the number 5 on her soccer jersey seems to scream back at him watching from the window.

When she arrives home, everyone there is in a panic. Samuel has come looking for her and the cuts and mud from where she fell frightens them all. Susie thinks, “How alive she was consumed me the whole day.” Lindsey then reveals to her father that she broke into Mr. Harvey’s house and she brings him the drawing. Her mother’s reaction is to leave to pick up Buckley, once again being unable to deal with her pain. The others look at the drawing and see there, instead of his other blueprints, the “blueprint of her grave.” When her father asks if Lindsey believes him now, she answers yes, but she also adds that she thinks Mr. Harvey saw her.

In heaven, Susie shivers with fear that her sister came so close to danger that day and that she would not only have been lost to her family, but, selfishly, to herself. Because, if Lindsey had died, she may not have been a part of Susie’s heaven. So, Susie wants her to be on Earth. Franny arrives at the gazebo and gives Susie a paper folded in four, telling her that when she feels stronger, she should go there. It is a map which leads her to a field in heaven she had walked by, but which remained unexplored. She finds herself walking through rows of wheat until she meets a little girl. The little girl says that she knows Franny and if Franny gave Susie the map, then Susie must be ready. She is one of Mr. Harvey’s victims and this makes Susie cry with the comfort it brings to speak to someone else he killed. The little girl tells Susie the others will be there soon. Suddenly, other girls and women come through the wheat from all directions; they are his victims and they all tell each other their stories. Susie notes that each time she tells her own experience, she loses the smallest drop of pain.


It seems as if Mr. Harvey’s “lust” to kill may be building, because he is haunting places where children can be found. What seems to hold him back is the way the Salmon family watches him. Lindsey’s breaking into his house will further worry him. Like her father going after the penlight in the cornfield, Lindsey has a terrible need to go there and face the danger. She needs to find a way to free herself from Susie. It’s not that she doesn’t love her sister; it’s just that she needs to move on, before she becomes mired in the pain of her death.

Susie makes herself as visible as she can to lead Lindsey to find a clue connecting her to Mr. Harvey; this is a kind of selfishness she still feels even though she is supposed to have left such feelings behind when she died. Perhaps because of her need to have the truth exposed and her inability to give up earth, Susie suddenly “knows” the names of his victims and the details of their murders.

Later, when Lindsey brings home the sketch of the cornfield, we see how much farther Abigail has pulled herself away from her family: her daughter has narrowly missed being caught by a murderer in his own home, but she doesn’t even comfort her. She leaves to avoid the truth and the pain of reliving that moment. She wants to believe as Len does, that Mr. Harvey is innocent and her family is just looking for a way to vent their anger at Susie’s death. Jack never even sees her go; he is just relieved that, finally, someone believes him.

Susie herself is finally able to face what may help her move on and give up Earth. Franny allows her to meet all Mr. Harvey’s victims where she can finally relate her story and begin to lose “the drops of pain.”

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