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Free Online Notes for The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold-Study Guide
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Title: The Lovely Bones

Author: Alice Sebold

Date Published: 2002

Genre: Fiction, Supernatural Thriller, and a Bildungsroman

Meaning of the Title: It refers to the actual body of the narrator; it also represents the cement that binds her family together. See Quotation number 16.

Setting: a small town near or a suburb of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania from 1973 through 1981

Protagonist: Susie Salmon

Antagonist: George Harvey, the serial killer as well as grief and guilt and the impact they have on those left behind after a murder in a family

Mood: Poignant, sad, at times suspenseful, uplifting

Point of View: First person (Susie narrates the entire story)

Tense: This story is written in the past tense, for Susie tells it after she and her family have resolved the problems which result when she is killed.

Rising Action: From the beginning of the novel when Susie is murdered until she “falls” into Ruth’s body and fulfills her greatest desire.

Exposition: Susie Salmon is raped and murdered; her family copes with numerous problems as a result; the murderer leaves town when he realizes her family knows he killed her; the murderer is never caught, but dies as a result of Susie’s “icicle”; Susie and her family resolve the issues which divide them after Susie dies; Susie wishes us all a long and happy life.

Climax: Susie is able to fulfill her desire to really grow up when Heaven allows her to inhabit Ruth’s body and make love to Ray.

Outcome: Susie’s family repairs the break in their bonds and moves on without Susie, but also without forgetting her. Susie is finally able to give up Earth and find her true Heaven.

Major Theme: The power of grief

Minor Themes: Love and Acceptance; Good versus Evil; the Feminist View of Rape

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