Friday, February 25, 2011

Susie Salmon was a typical fourteen-year-old girl in December of 1973 when she was raped and murdered by her neighbor, Mr. Harvey, on her way home from school. The novel, narrated by Susie from her heaven, follows her family’s life after the murder and how each of them attempts to deal with losing her. Throughout the book Susie’s father, mother, sister Lindsey and brother Buckley all cope in various ways with Susie’s loss and the fact the her murderer never was found by the police. Though the road is very rocky and long, her death ultimately brings the family closer by the end of the novel. The best description of The Lovely Bones is from the New York Times saying the book is “a keenly observed portrait of familial love and how it endures and changes over time.”

Throughout the book, Susie watches her smart, strong younger sister, Lindsey, grow up. Lindsey constantly faces the looks and whispers about her, and becomes known as “the dead girl’s sister” throughout high school. She makes the boy’s varsity soccer team and graduates as valedictorian of her class. She and her boyfriend Samuel go to college together, and eventually get married and have a child by the end of the novel. Throughout the book, Lindsey also becomes a sort of cornerstone for the family. She is the strong one, and is always watching out for her little brother Buckley and her father. She deals with her loss of her sister and her best friend by taking care of the family, and often shutting her own feelings out.

For Susie’s mother, her death changes the way that she felt about the family and her role in it. She feels responsible for Susie’s death because she feels that it is punishment for never really wanting children. She realizes that all her life she compromised her own dreams for her family and she cannot deal with that. Susie says, “It was my father who grew toward us as the years went by; it was my mother who grew away” (153). She seeks to end her pain by escape. She has an affair with a police officer covering Susie’s murder case, and eventually abandons her family and goes to California for about three years, trying to find herself and rebuild her dreams. Eventually however, her family calls her home when Susie’s father has a narrow escape from death, and she returns home, trying to start over once again.

In many ways, Susie’s father is the hero of the novel. He and Susie had a very special bond, and for a while he sees her everywhere, especially in Lindsey. But he is strong for his family, and basically raises Lindsey and Buckley after his wife leaves. He struggles with himself because he feels that he is the reason she left, and that he could really never make her happy. But when she returns they both find renewed hope that they could rebuild their lives together, and he forgives her for leaving almost immediately.

As Susie watches all of this from her heaven she must deal with the fact that she can never see her family on earth again. She must let go of them, and go on into heaven, instead of being constantly attached to earth. As her family grows stronger throughout the novel and copes with her death, she in turn begins to be able o let go of them as well. Susie finally moves on to a place called “wide heaven” and leaves her family behind to live their lives. Still, at the end of the book, she says, “If I’m to be honest with you, I still sneak away to watch my family sometimes. I can’t help it, and sometimes they still think of me. They can’t help it,” (323).

1) Do you think Susie's mother is justified in abandoning her family and going to California because she had to cope with herself and her loss?

2) In the book Susie constantly watches her family and is very connected to life on earth. Do you personally believe that this life and whatever comes after death are connected, or totally separate? Do you think the dead are connected with life on earth?

17 comments:

Laura P 7-8 said...

1) I do not believe Susie's mother should have abandoned her family. She left her two kids and husband who were probably just as torn up about it as she was, and it seems she ran from her problems in hopes of starting over, while her family didn't get the same option.

Brandon M. 1-2 said...

1. No, she is not justified in leaving. Everyone in the family was suffering just as much as her and they did not run away. They helped each other recover.

2. (Geez!, Abby Meinen's taking a religious survey) Well, I do beleive that those who have left this earth can see what goes on upon it, but I do not think that they can do any more than watch what goes on.

Tyler W 1-2 said...

No her mother should not go to California because family is important and everyone goes through rough times.

Abby M. 1-2 said...

I agree with all of you, Susie's mother really wasn't justified in leaving her family behind just because she thought she had bigger problems. However I do wonder if things would have been worse had she stayed because her leaving made her realize how important her family was to her.

Abby M. 1-2 said...

We can only guess Brandon!

Renae G. 1-2 said...

1. I do not think Susie's mother should have abanded her family just because of a horrible loss. The other members of the family coped with Susie's death without moving away.

2. I think the dead can influence the way people act and live on Earth. I think they are slightly connected with life on Earth.

Rafiq O. 1-2 said...

1.) No, I don't she is justified in abandoning her family but looking from her point of view I understand her reasoning. If I had been in her predicament I would probably need some form of escape to gain some closure, but whether that means leaving my family or not, depends...

2.)I think they're connected in some way...

Millie W. 7/8 said...

2) I think there connected. Not in the way that someone in heaven could intervene or anything. However I think our ancestors can see what were doing.

Monica J. 1-2 said...

1. I dont think any circumstance you have should justify leaving and abandoning yoiur family. You can go get help but dont abandon because you have the responsibility and you just cant ignore it.
2. I think death and life on earth is ocnnected because is you have aa issue and cant move on you wont be able to move on in the afterlife either.

Josie D 7/8 said...

1. No, she was not justified. The situation does not make it okay for her to abandon them. During this time was when her family would need her most and they could help her recover from the lost.

2. I believe there is some connection, although I could not say what it is or how it works.

jessica b 1/2 said...

1. Although everyone grieves in their own way, I do not think that she should have left her family when they were grieving too, and needed her most.
2. I do think that there is some kind of connection between life and the life after death.

Sydney S. 1-2 said...

1. I don't think that her decision could be justified. She abandoned her family when they all needed eachother just because things were hard for herself.

2. I think that people who have passed can look down on earth, but I don't think that they can change what happens. But who knows?

Heather B. 1-2 said...

1.) No she was not jusrified. The entire family had to cope and it was her responsibility as a parent to be there for her family.

2.) I believe there is some connection, but I don't think it can be as easily explained as people would hope.

Hannah K. 1-2 said...

1) I think that while abandoning her husband and children when they were also grieving is a horrible thing to do, when that could cause further strain and grief for the family, but that it might have simply been necessary for her. If she was miserable, and unable to cope at their house, then she was justified.
2) I don't personally believe in life after death, but I think that if there was something, it would be connected to this life, because most deceased would still have strong ties to their old lives.

Andrew C 7-8 said...

i dont think susie's mother should have left them. In the end you should always stay strong and it appears as if she took the easy way out.

Hannah J. 7-8 said...

1. no i dont think she was justified at all, she had a life set up and what she did was compltely selfish and unfair.
2.yes because what the dead do is a reprocussion of what happens on earth

Mrs. Sherwood said...

Thread graded and closed.