Symbolism In The Lovely Bones

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The Lovely Bones, by Alice Sebold, is the story of Susie Salmon, who is fourteen when she is murdered on December 6th, 1973. The story is told from Susie’s perspective, and jumps back and forth between flashbacks and her current place, in Heaven. The novel explores the themes of grief, violence and mortality through many techniques, such as symbolism, irony and foreshadowing, and as a result forces the reader to sympathize with Susie and her family as they come to terms with such a violent act. Symbolism is one of the key techniques that Sebold uses throughout The Lovely Bones to represent crucial ideas or qualities. One of the first personal items of Susie’s that is found is her jingly beanie; “My mother grabbed it out of Len Fenerman’s hands,…show more content…
“What do you have in here? A dead body?” (p. 48) is Mrs Flanagan’s remark when Mr. Harvey is dumping Susie’s body in the sinkhole – this is ironic because the safe that Mr Harvey is dumping actually holds a dead body, but Mrs Flanagan does not know what the reader does. This creates a frustrating situation for the reader, as they know where Susie’s body has been disposed of, but none of the characters do. A similar use of irony is utilized by Sebold when Mr. Harvey uses his various victims’ names to refer to his imaginary wife – he uses a different victim for the different places he lives, although this is revealed later, only the reader and Susie are aware of this. Also, Susie consistently refers to him as “Mr. Harvey” for the entirety of the story – this is ironic as he does not deserve the title, nor the respect of being referred to in that way. Alice Sebold uses the symbolism, irony, and foreshadowing techniques throughout The Lovely Bones to successfully explore the complex themes of violence, grief, and mortality in a novel which ultimately causes the reader to feel empathetic towards Susie and her family, creating a captivating and thought-provoking story which shows the true nature of such a violent crime and the aftermath that it
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