The Lovely Bones

The Lovely Bones Summary and Analysis of Chapters 8-11

Chapter 8

Mr. Harvey dreams of buildings. His favorite is Vologda, The Church of Transfiguration. This is what he dreams about before he has the “not still” dreams of women and children. In George Harvey’s childhood, his father was a builder—making houses in the desert of glass and wood. When he has the not still dreams, he looks through his father’s notebooks. He thinks of his mother the last time he saw her, dressed in white and running through a field after his father forced her out of the car. She had given George her amber necklace on her way out.

Chapter 9

Grandma Lynn comes for Susie’s memorial service in a limousine and wearing a mink around her neck. Lynn has Jack make her a drink; when she finds out Jack is not drinking, she gets him to drink with her. Susie realizes that Lynn is bringing the light back to their house. Lynn tells Abigail she needs help, and insists on giving her a make-over with her “bag o’ magic.” Lindsey asks Grandma Lynn to teach her about make-up. She tells her about it while she does Abigail’s make-up. When Lindsey suddenly thinks of Samuel Heckler, Grandma Lynn knows immediately from Lindsey’s expression that she has a boyfriend. Lynn does Lindsey’s make-up and she looks like a clown. Jack gets drunk, and Abigail goes to bed without doing the dishes, which is not usual for her. After everyone is in bed, Lindsey looks at herself in the mirror. Both Lindsey and Susie see an adult who can take care of herself. Lindsey makes faces at herself in the mirror, and then sleeps on her back so as not to mess up her face.

Mrs. Bethel Utemeyer was the only dead person Lindsey and Susie had ever seen. She moved in with her son in their neighborhood when Lindsey was five and Susie was six. Sometimes she would leave the house and get lost. Abigail would bring her in for tea, and she would be there when Lindsey and Susie got home. She often called Lindsey “Natalie.” When she died, Lindsey and Susie were excited to view the body. Their mother was pregnant with Buckley at the time. Mr. Utemeyer took them up to see the body, and told his mother that he brought her Natalie. Both girls thought she might talk. Susie noted that “it” (the body) was Mrs. Utemeyer, but that it was something else as well. Mrs. Utemeyer is in Susie’s heaven, and she walks hand in hand with a little blond girl, her daughter Natalie.

The morning of the memorial, Lindsey decides she will wear one of Susie’s dresses. She goes into her room and opens the closet. Grandma Lynn comes in and asks Lindsey to help her with zipping and hooking her dress. Lynn tells Lindsey she is pretty, which is a shock to Lindsey since Lynn never gives out compliments. Lynn helps Lindsey pick out a dress, and she picks a mini dress that belonged to Clarissa. While Lynn is looking, Lindsey asks Lynn who the man is that her father thinks did it. She doesn’t answer. She is so busy helping Lindsey that she doesn’t put make-up on.

Samuel Heckler is at the church waiting for them. Detective Fenerman is there as well. Susie wishes she could be there with her father. He feels every day he wakes up there is something else to get through. Ruth comes to the service as well. She is with her father. She notes Lindsey’s new look and doesn’t like it because she thinks make-up is demeaning. She also notices Hal Heckler in the graveyard smoking. Clarissa is at the service with Brian Nelson. She approaches the Salmons and offers her condolences. Abigail is angry because Clarissa is alive and Susie is not. Clarissa notices Lindsey is wearing her dress but realizes she will never get it back. Ray Singh does not come; he says good-bye to Susie by looking at the portrait she had given him earlier that year. He realizes the photo is not her and that Susie exists in the things he does rather than in the picture. He places the picture in a volume of Indian poetry where he and his mother press flowers.

At the service people say nice things about Susie. Grandma Lynn points out George Harvey to Lindsey and she looks at him and then faints. Mr. Harvey then leaves the service quietly.

Chapter 10

Lindsey and Samuel are at the statewide Gifted Symposium that summer together. There are cliques of different types of nerds there. Samuel is a Master of Arcane Knowledge, who understands things in a real way, rather than theoretical. One of his heroes is his brother Hal, who dropped out of high school and runs a garage where he fixes motorcycles and other motorized things. Samuel tells people he does not know what he wants to be when he grows up.

Ruth Connors is there as well. She knows she wants to be a poet, and has been writing poetry. Ruth has also become a vegetarian after Susie’s death, much to Ruth’s mother’s dismay. After she ate a whole head of cabbage, she had to be taken to the hospital because she had gastritis. Then she was driven to the symposium.

Lindsey hopes that people at the symposium will not associate her with Susie. She draws a fish instead of writing her last name on her nametag. Lindsey and Samuel had been discreet about their affection during the spring at school, but both of them wear their half-heart pendants.

Both Ruth and Lindsey are “floaters” at camp because they do not belong to any one group. At camp, Ruth decides to eat meat—she knows she can’t do it at home because she made a big deal about not eating it. She sees Lindsey in the dining hall and introduces herself. She asks about the fish on Lindsey’s nametag. When Ruth says Salmon out loud, Lindsey asks her not to say it. Ruth feels empathy for Lindsey.

Samuel and Lindsey are the only couple at camp. The heat of the summer has brought on their lust. They meet and kiss in a tree. Still, they follow the rules at camp. Ruth writes in her journal that she thinks the couple is going to have sex. Susie likes that Ruth writes everything in her journal, about how she feels connected to Susie and about what it was like to be touched by her soul. Ruth imagines Susie would tell her she’s a good poet. Susie can also see that Ruth has a desire for women—Ruth thinks it’s not that she wants to have sex with them, but that she wants to hide inside of them.

During the last week of the symposium there is always a project that is contest between the schools. Usually, the contest is to build the best mousetrap. Samuel and Lindsey are already preparing for it by collecting things they need for the trap—small rubber bands from braces, and tin foil. Lindsey does not want to kill the mice. Samuel says Artie is going to contribute tiny coffins. Lindsey mentions that Artie had a crush on Susie and asks if he talks about her. Samuel says that he asks about how Lindsey is doing. Lindsey changes the subject to building a couch for the mice. Samuel doesn’t pressure her to talk more about Susie.

Susie does not spend as much time that summer watching earth from the gazebo. At night the shot-putters and javelin throwers in her heaven leave for another part of heaven. She wonders what the other heavens are like. Sometimes, if she wanders too far, she is in the cornfield again and her head throbs. She calls this the lip of her grave. She starts to wonder what heaven means, and why her grandparents aren’t there; she wants a place where she feels joy and has no memories. Franny tells her she can only have that if she lets go of watching and caring about what happens on earth.

Ruth comes into Lindsey’s dorm and asks to get in bed with her. She tells Lindsey she had a dream about Susie, where Ruth is inside the earth and Susie is walking above in the cornfield; Ruth tries to call to her but he mouth is filled with dirt and Susie can’t hear her. Lindsey says she doesn’t dream about her. Ruth asks if she misses her, and Lindsey admits that she misses her more than anyone will ever know.

The contest that year is not to make a mousetrap—instead, the kids have to come up with how to commit the perfect murder. Artie wants to break the news to Lindsey before she reads the flier. He approaches her in the breakfast line. She tells him she does not want the little coffins he offered to make for the mice. He tells her the contest is different this year—it’s about murder. Samuel comes in and Lindsey asks him what is going on. Samuel confirms what Artie has told her. Lindsey says she is fine and leaves. Artie goes to the table and draws hypodermic needles with embalming fluid dripping out. Susie notes that he is lonely.

Samuel and Lindsey go off to talk. Artie sees Ruth sitting at a picnic table outside. They talk about how each of them found out about Susie’s death. Artie’s father sat him and his sister down and told them a “little girl” had been killed. Ruth already knew Susie had died but she saw it in the paper that her dad was reading. It starts to rain, and Ruth suggests they just get wet. Artie goes under the table. The rain suddenly stops and the sun comes out. Ruth quietly says that she thinks Susie listens.

All of the students at the symposium now know that Lindsey’s sister was murdered. They talked about it, and about the people they knew had died, but they had never known someone who was murdered.

Underneath a boat, Lindsey and Samuel lay together. Samuel gets an erection, and Lindsey tells him she is ready to lose her virginity. Lindsey goes to a place where Susie has never been.

Susie says that in heaven, the game of how to commit the perfect murder is old. Susie always chooses the icicle as her weapon, because it melts away.

Chapter 11

At the Salmon home, Buckley is the only child. Jack gets up early and takes Holiday for a walk, and slows as he passes George Harvey’s house. He hopes he will find a clue. He remembers that Ruana Singh told him that if she were Jack, and she were sure of the killer, she would find a quiet way and kill him. Abigail believes in what the police say and not in Jack’s theories.

Susie describes the house she grew up in as a box. Mr. Harvey’s house is the same as theirs, but more barren. He keeps the house cold. He spends most of his time in the kitchen building dollhouses, in the living room listening to the radio, or sketching blueprints like he did for the hole and the tent. Mr. Harvey has not been bothered about Susie for a few months. He sets alarms so he knows when to open and close the blinds, and when to turn lights on and off. He keeps a routine so no one is suspicious. Late at night, when no one will bother him he counts a few simple things: a wedding ring, a letter sealed in an envelope, the heel of a shoe, a pair of glasses, an eraser the shape of a cartoon character, a small bottle of perfume, a plastic bracelet, Susie’s Pennsylvania keystone charm, his mother’s amber pendant. He does not remember the names of all of the victims, but Susie knows them all. The heel of the shoe came from a little girl named Claire. Mr. Harvey lured her into the back of a van and took her shoes off; she cried and he did not like the noise, so he went to let her out. But she kept crying. A man banged on the door and asked what he was doing. He pried the heel off one shoe and said he was fixing her shoe. He gave the shoes back but kept the heel. He now rubs in between his fingers like a worry stone.

The darkest place in the house is the crawl space in the basement. When Mr. Harvey’s alarm goes off to tell him to shut the blinds, he goes into the basement where no light can leak out. He no longer goes to the crawlspace, but he does sit in an easy chair that faced the space and often falls asleep. Joe Ellis, a boy from the neighborhood, was known for being tough. He had a small dog that one day disappeared, Many other pets in the neighborhood also disappeared. People blamed Joe Ellis; when he went to the military the disappearances stopped. But Susie discovers that Mr. Harvey was the one killing the pets, whose bones are now in the crawlspace. Susie tries to understand that Mr. Harvey kills animals in order to stop himself from killing a child.

In August Len Fenerman decides he needs to establish boundaries with Jack Salmon. Jack has been calling the precinct about Mr. Harvey non-stop. Len goes to the Salmon house and smokes a cigarette on the porch in the humidity. Lindsey comes out and they chat. She tells him that Buckley has made Len the chief of police in the town he built. Jack takes Len into the kitchen and offers him coffee. Len tells him he has no news; he came to tell him to stop making calls about George Harvey. Lindsey comes in and tells Len that he is giving up. Abigail comes in and Jack sees her look at Len. Jack senses something in her eyes.

That night Jack writes in his journal that Abigail believes Len about George Harvey. Jack has not been doing well at work and has been making a lot of mistakes. Now, the flickering candle distracts him. He turns off his desk lamp and sits in the dark with the candle. He is sitting in his green easy chair, where he often relaxes. When he is about to go to bed, he sees a light outside and it is moving in the direction of the cornfield. Jack believes it is Harvey. He dresses and gets a baseball bat. He goes outside and into the cornfield. Jack remembers what Ruana said about finding a quiet way to kill the man he knows did it. Susie tries to send a warning to him from heaven, to no avail. The person in the cornfield is Clarissa, waiting for Brian. Jack realizes it is not George Harvey.

Brian is late to meet Clarissa. Jack runs into Clarissa in the dark and knocks her down. He screams “Susie!” Brian comes running, his light briefly hits Mr. Harvey, but only Susie sees him. Brian drags Jack off of Clarissa, and then hits him with the baseball bat. Susie knows she can do nothing; all she does is blow out the candle that is flicking in the study window.


Both Chapter 8 and Chapter 11 examine Mr. Harvey, his past, and his lifestyle. In Chapter 8, Mr. Harvey dreams of the Church of the Transfiguration, which is an allusion to the transfiguration of Jesus, which is when God put Jesus above Moses and Elijah and when Jesus appeared in radiant glory to three disciples. Also, transfiguration more generally refers to a change in spiritual state. He has this dream after he kills Susie, indicating he feels he is more enlightened after her death. At other times he has dreams that Susie refers to as the “not still” dreams of women and children. These are the dreams where he feels the spirits of the women and children he has killed, and they disturb him—their spirits are “not still.”

Susie characterizes Mr. Harvey by giving us a picture of his house, which she describes as barren; even though the house is exactly like her home, his house feels cold while hers feels warm. She also characterizes him by describing his calculated ways—such as setting a timer to tell him when to shut the blinds so he can appear normal. Through Mr. Harvey’s thoughts, Susie learns about his parents. Knowing about them and his relationship with them helps her to understand Mr. Harvey. Mr. Harvey thinks of his father’s profession as “a builder” which fits into the theme of construction. Mr. Harvey is also a builder in many ways, as he builds dollhouses for a living, and also takes pleasure in building small hideouts, like the one in which he killed Susie.

When Mr. Harvey’s mother leaves him and his father, she gives him the amber necklace with a fly locked into place. The fly symbolizes being stuck in time: Mr. Harvey’s memory of his mother is of how she looked as she ran away from his father’s car. Similarly Susie and his other victims are also locked in time because of their premature deaths. For each woman that is gone, he has one physical memento that represents that woman. Just as Susie’s family tries to keep her things, each family member taking representative items for themselves, Mr. Harvey uses objects to represent absence.

In Chapter 9, Susie states that Grandma Lynn brings the light back into the Salmon household, which is emblematic of her support as she helps them to survive their grief. The make-up that Lynn applies on Lindsey’s face is a marker of adulthood for her—but as an adult she also has responsibility and independence. Before the memorial service, Lindsey worries that she has forgotten what Susie looked like, emphasizing the theme of memory—it’s the only place Susie “lives” which makes it all the more important for Lindsey. The memorial service is an acknowledgment of Susie’s physical absence from their lives. Her absence is what has kept the family members preoccupied yet it is not very often discussed between them. Ray also says goodbye to Susie that day, but not at the memorial service. Instead he chooses to figuratively bury Susie’s picture in the volume of Indian poetry. Thus he feels he has set her free, and finds his own way of surviving grief and letting her go; he also realizes that Susie is in his relationship with Ruth, that she does not really exist in the picture he has of her. At Susie’s memorial service, her body is not present; Susie remembers a service she went to for Mrs. Utemeyer where her body was present. However, Mrs. Utemeyer’s body has an absence of soul. Just as the picture is not Susie, the body is not Mrs. Utemeyer.

Lindsey’s move toward becoming an adult is continued when Lindsey looses her virginity to Samuel. Susie realizes that Lindsey is growing up in a way that Susie was never able to because Lindsey’s sex brings her to a place Susie did not go. Susie uses a metaphor to describe the difference: the “walls” of her sex had horror and blood, while the walls of Lindsey’s have windows. We are reminded of the tone set by the rape in the first chapter. For Susie, all sex she sees on Earth is colored by her experience with Mr. Harvey.

Right before Lindsey’s sex scene, Susie watches Artie, a loner from her school. While watching him she comments “Lonely… on earth as it is in heaven.” Susie empathizes with Artie because she too feels isolated in heaven. He feels isolated because the nerds at the gifted symposium formed cliques that leave some on the outside. When Jack goes into the cornfield seeking revenge, we are reminded of Susie’s isolation from Earth. Susie tries to push on the Inbetween to warn Jack but is not able to help him. Susie isolated in her world and Jack in his.