Lovely Bones: Mr. Harvey's Childhood

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George Harvey is always depicted as the vile, relentless murderer behind the rape and death of Susie Salmon, the protagonist of the novel Lovely Bones. It is easy for the reader to show absolutely no pity for this character. However, in Chapter 15, the author Alice Sebold converts this heartless soul into an individual that urges the reader to offer him sympathy instead. Sebold begins the chapter by reflecting on the tremendous amount of hardships that George Harvey endures in his childhood. As a child, George and his mother depend on each other, as they struggle through life in poverty and dread the presence of his father. Alongside his mother as her accomplice, they turn to theft as a method to receive food and resources behind his father’s back. In success, George receives the one thing he always longs for, a mother’s love. Furthermore, Susie Salmon suggests, “he did it because she wanted him to,” (Sebold, 188) which proves George’s dependence on his mother. Soon, their theft from stores shifts to graves. As George and his mother falls into a deep slumber after a night of grave robbery, they are awakened by a noise from the exterior of the truck where they had slept for the night. As they open their eyes, they stare into the eyes of three drunkards, who are there for George’s mother. With quick reaction and precise planning, George’s mother (with George’s help) runs over a man and rears onto him again. In the end, George only learns “how life should be lived: not as a child or as a woman” (Sebold, 190).

It is evident that the influence of George Harvey’s mother plays a significant role in his moral development. Although George Harvey does not entirely approve of the actions of his mother, George, nonetheless, continues to steal in order to satisfy his mother. Additionally, when George follows his mother’s plan for him “to reach forward and turn the keys in the ignition,” (Sebold, 190) it leads to him aiding his mother in running over a human...
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