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Free Online Notes for The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold-Study Guide
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The chapter opens with George Harvey’s memories of him and his mother shoplifting. They were caught just one time, but the memory of it gives him a sick feeling now. He loves, however, when they got away, because he felt his mother’s “wild, unpredictable love” and he felt free and warm. They would, also, stop along the road whenever they saw crosses placed there in memory of auto accident victims. She would tell him he had to look past the dead and take the trinkets people had left there. At one spot, they found two charms: a heart and an eye. She had a secret stash of trinkets she hid from his father, so she let him choose which one he wanted. He chose the eye. One night, as they lay sleeping in the truck along the side of the road, three drunken men came and demanded his mother come out. They wanted to rape her, but she knew how to fool them and protect them both. As she began to climb out of the truck, she had George turn over the ignition. She used her elbow to knock the gearshift into place and gunned the engine, running over one of the men. At that moment, George had clarity about how life should be lived: “not as a child or as a woman. They were the two worst things to be.”

After seeing Lindsey run away, Mr. Harvey packs up his trophies, throws the knife he had used to kill Susie into the hole drilled in the foundation of his basement, and hangs the trophy bag on a rusty metal support over which the cement had been poured. He knows he only has a short time to reduce the impact of the sketch Lindsey has taken. He calls the police and reports a break-in. Meanwhile, Jack Salmon has reported the sketch to the police at the station, because he is unable to locate Len Fenerman. The fact that Mr. Harvey readily volunteers information about the break-in impresses the policemen more than the sketch Lindsey found. His excuse for drawing the cornfield is also readily believable: he says he had been trying to figure out who had killed Susie by drawing the place where she had died. When they ask why he didn’t call them with his theories, he said he had been dead wrong when he implicated Joe Ellis as the murderer and didn’t want to give the family false hope.

Susie then sees that once again the hope of “Mr. Harvey’s capture begins to diminish just as the end of her family ignites.” Len Fenerman is not available to Jack, because Abigail has called him and asked him to meet her. He goes immediately, because try as he might, he just can’t say no to her. They meet at the mall where she leaves Buckley in the children’s play area. Len sees her in a trashy store called Spencer’s where he gently touches her back and then turns and begins to walk away. She follows him into the inner workings of the mall. The sounds in there are reminiscent of a large heart and Abigail imagines herself inside her own. That reminds her of a doctor’s visit where Jack had been sitting on the examination table and the doctor had been warning them of congestive heart failure. The memory very nearly causes her to let go in grief when suddenly the hallway through which she is walking dead-ends in a huge room where Len is waiting for her. He looks for the need in her “ocean eyes,” the same eyes that attracted Jack and in which he “could now drown.” If he had not reached out and touched her hand again, Susie thinks, “I might have kept her to myself. Susie is dazed as she watches them embrace, because at the exact moment her mother is cheating on her father, Mr. Harvey, her murderer, is easily escorting the police from his home. However, she also knows that the kisses and the caresses she watches ‘call her mother away from her and from her family and from her grief.’” They were ruinous and marvelous at the same time.

While Len leads her to place where they can make love, Mr. Harvey is packing his belongings, Buckley is playing hula-hoop, Samuel and Lindsey are laying nervously on her bed, Grandma Lynn is downing three shots in the dining room, and her father watches the phone. Mr. Harvey leaves his house for the last time while her mother is “granted her temporal wish. To find a doorway out of her ruined heart, in merciful adultery.”


It is obvious from George Harvey’s childhood memories that his mother impacted on who he became in a very strong way: he fears being caught for his sins, because of the shoplifting incidence, and he probably kills women and children to save them from he believes are terrible lives. Women and children were the two worst things to be. He has spent his entire life trying to earn his mother’s love which he only feels when he shoplifts for her. This seems to transfer to the murders he commits, because he wants his victims to tell him they love him and then, he kills them to set them free. Fortunately for him, after Lindsey steals the sketch, he is able to convince the police long enough for him to get away.

Abigail’s behavior in the mall is both infuriating and poignant. She has betrayed her family in the most unacceptable way and by being with Len, she keeps him away from an opportunity to capture Harvey. And yet, we feel how she seeks him out to help her deal with her pain. She turns away from her family, because she cannot accept their obsession with Susie, but also because they represent to her the loss of what she most desired in life. They are chains she cannot seem to break, so Len is the key so helping her grant the wish to “step out of her ruined heart.”

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