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
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?
Wednesday, February 23, 2011
1. If you were in Eddie's position, would you try to save the little girl's life even if you were risking your own?
2. Would you have done what Eddie did when his father took a drunken swing at him even if you knew you may never speak to him again?
Tuesday, February 22, 2011
Hamlet dedicates himself to seeking revenge, but he is often delayed in his plans because of his contemplative and thoughtful behaviors. He becomes so melancholy that he seems to reach a certain level of madness. Claudius and Hamlet's mother worry for him and try to find a cause for his despair, using two of his friends to watch him. Around this time Polonius suggests that Hamlet is simply madly in love with his daughter Ophelia. Wanting to know if that is the truth, Claudius spies on one of their conversations but does not find any indication that Hamlet is in love with her.
Still trying to avenge his father, Hamlet comes up with an idea to test his uncle's guilt. A group of traveling actors come to Elsinore and Hamlet has them act out a play that closely resembles the way Claudius murdered his brother. He believes that if his uncle truly did kill his father, then he would react in some way. When the murder scene comes, Claudius leaves the room. Convinced of his uncle's guilt, Hamlet follows him to finally get revenge. However, he finds Claudius praying, and thinking it would send him to heaven, Hamlet waits to extract his revenge. Claudius, who is scared for his well-being, orders that Hamlet be sent to England.
Before he leaves, Hamlet goes to confront his mother but ends up accidentally killing Polonius. He is immediately sent to England with his two friends. What Hamlet does not know is that Claudius has a secret plot in which he demands that Hamlet be put to death in England. Ophelia, mad with grief over her father, drowns herself in the river.
Afterwards, Polonius' son Laertes comes back to find his family all dead. Claudius then convinces Laertes that Hamlet is to blame for all his misfortune. Hamlet ends up coming back because of pirates that attacked his ship and Claudius uses this opportunity to use Laertes desire for revenge to finally kill Hamlet. Claudius declares that Laertes and Hamlet have a fencing duel and to ensure that Hamlet dies, he poisons Laertes blade. As another precaution he poisons a goblet in case Hamlet wins. Hamlet comes back just as Ophelia's funeral is taking place. Grievous, he attacks Laertes and declares that he had always loved her.
The fight begins and Hamlet wins the first score. When Claudius offers him the goblet, he declines and instead his mother drinks from it, dying immediately. Laertes then wounds Hamlet but he does not die from the poison immediately. Laertes then wounds himself with his own sword and before dying, he tells Hamlet that Claudius is responsible for his mother's death as well. Hamlet soon stabs Claudius with the poisoned sword and forces him to drink all of the poisoned wine. Claudius dies and with his revenge full filled, Hamlet dies immediately after. The kingdom is then taken over by a man named Fortinbras, who after learning of Hamlet's story from Horatio, has the dead prince carried away in the manner of a fallen soldier.
1. Do you think Hamlet's revenge was justified? Should he have forgotten about it and just continued on with his life?
2. If Hamlet had not tried to get revenge, how do you think his life would have changed?
Sunday, February 20, 2011
1. "So many people along the way, whatever it is you aspire to do, will tell you it can't be done. But all it takes is imagination. You dream. You plan. You reach. There will be obstacles. There will be doubters. There will be mistakes. But with hard work, with belief, with confidence and trust in yourself and those around you, there are no limits." Do you think that anything is achievable in life? If you want something bad enough and are willing to work for it will you get it, or are some things not achievable?
2. "I engaged in behavior which was regrettable and demonstrated bad judgement. I'm twenty-three years old and, despite the successes I've had in the pool, I acted in a youthful and irresponsible way, not in a manner people have come to expect form me. For this, I am sorry. I promise my fans and the public it will not happen again" (237). Do you think it is right to judge Phelps for the illegal activities he was caught doing? Should people talk poorly about an entire sport because of one person's mistake?
1. Despite everything, Jeannette Walls refuses to condemn her parents. If you were living in Jeannette’s shoes, how would you feel living with parents who did not take care of you? What actions would you take in order to take care of yourself? Would you still honor your parents?
2. As Jeannette grew older and lived in New York she still kept very close touch with her parents. They too later moved down to New York. If you were Jeannette would you still want to be close with your parents? Why?
The next day Sean finds Ellie at her work. Sean takes Ellie home. Ellie tells Sean about Nina. He tells her that his brother died and he would love to help Ellie find Nina because there is nothing he can do to help his brother. Ellie and Sean find a credit card of Nina's and go online to see what she bought with it. One purchase was a snowboard and the other purchase was a breakfast at a diner, Sweetie's in Nebraska. Ellie and Sean go to Nebraska.
When they get to Sweetie's there is a tour bus in the parking lot. Ellie goes to the bathroom which is covered in Sharpie drawings. Ellie sees a drawing of a boy and a bus with the writting Cakey <3's J and the bus number 257. Cakey was Nina's nickname. Ellie runs out and tells Sean. The bus in the parking lot has the number 257. So Ellie and Sean follow the bus.
The bus takes them to Denver. In Denver Ellie sees a sign that says, "Get a tattoo at Bijoux Ink. 2740 Colfax Avenue" (157). Ellie and Nina had an imaginary dog named, Bijoux. They go to Bijoux Ink and find a picture of Nina and a band. Ellie takes the picture and they go to Bottom Forty, a music store. There they meet Jamie and Jamie. The Jamies tell them that the band is The Monsterhands and they are having a concert in Phoneix in the Spit Pavillion. Ellie, Sean and the Jamies go to Phoneix.
When they get there Ellie goes and talks to the band. To get in she tells the guard she is Nina. The band tells Ellie that the last time they saw Nina was when they dropped her off at a house in Big Sur with a snowboard. Ellie goes to find Sean and tells him.
On their way to Big Sur they stop at a gas station. Sean tells Ellie he hired a privatae investigator and the investigator told him Nina was dead. Ellie doesn't believe him. She screams and cries. Instead of going to Big Sur, they stop at a hotel. Ellie wakes up in the morning and remembers what strange things happened that night. She remembers tracing scars on Sean and him putting a breifcase in the back of a closet. Ellie askes Sean to get her a salad for breakfast. While he is gone she finds the briefcase and the combination is Cakey.
1. Do you think Ellie finds Nina?
2. If your sibling went missing would you try to find him/her to such extremes as Ellie did? (Ellie's mom didn't help her in finding Nina. Everytime she would ask her mom for help her mom would tell her to stop).