Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold: Setting and Symbolism

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How can one cope with sudden changes, following the murder of someone close to them? To begin with, accepting a loss is quite unbearable especially when dealing with family complications. Although the death of Susie Salmon made a great impact in her family and friend’s lives; even they are able to find themselves along the way. In the novel, Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold, setting and symbolism relates to theme by revealing the weaknesses of humanity when faced with tragedy.

Initially, the atmosphere of the story undergoes a dramatic shift following the death of Susie Salmon. In the beginning of the novel, a shift is developed from a neutral setting to melancholic. This mood change is highly important because the characters’ actions are linked to a chain of events. The passing of Susie led her family to depression and subjective behaviour which later ruined their relationships, but brought others closer. In addition, the story is told through innocent eye narrator which shifts from past, present and future. It is told from the perspective of Susie who experiences many events, especially during her time in heaven. So it is inevitable that her opinions and views will change over time. Furthermore, there is not only a shift in time and atmosphere, but in the protagonist’s character. When Susie first reaches heaven, her main priority is to make sure Mr. Harvey receives his deserved punishment, but her outlooks change in the future when she realizes that her family’s grief and suffering is her weakness. The murder not only affects her family, because her viewpoint changes as well, when she realizes the important things in life. In other words, the interactions and how the characters’ present themselves are all related to their experiences with the setting.

Throughout the novel, the author uses symbolism multiple times to create a descriptive atmosphere. Therefore, Alice Sebold uses the “in-between” as a representation of purgatory. Both Susie and her family are...
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