The Lovely Bones

The Lovely Bones Summary and Analysis of Chapters 12-14

Chapter 12

Susie watches her father in the hospital. The story told about him is that he is crazy with grief and was seeking revenge. He has to have his kneecap replaced. The surgeon is very patient; he is Jack’s age and has children of his own.

Abigail, Lindsey and Buckley are awakened by the sound of sirens. Abigail tells Lindsey to get her father and they discover he is not there. Abigail is angry because she realizes that Jack must have gone after Harvey. Lindsey wants to help him but Abigail does not want her to. Lindsey has no choice; she takes Buckley up to her room to go back to sleep. Abigail gets a call from the police that Jack has been hit by a baseball bat. Lindsey stays at home while Abigail goes to the hospital.

Lindsey calls Nate’s mother to get Buckley. Then she calls Samuel so Hal can pick her up on his motorcycle and take her to the hospital. Abigail is not in the room when Lindsey arrives. Hal tells Lindsey he will wait outside in case she needs a ride. Lindsey sings a song to her father that he used to sing to his daughters before Buckley was born. Jack is completely unconscious and unaware of his life and his surroundings. In heaven Franny tells Susie that when the dead are done with the living, the living can move on. Susie wants to know what the dead do, but Franny won’t answer.

Len Fenerman comes to the hospital because Abigail requested him. At the hospital Abigail is pacing and she is still wearing her nightgown and raincoat, but she has applied red lipstick. Len arrives and Abigail is relieved. Len suggests they talk in the visitors’ area. Len fills Abigail in on what happened in the cornfield. Len and Abigail go to a balcony to smoke cigarettes. Abigail asks Len how his wife died. He tells her she committed suicide. Susie is struck by the way her mother looks smoking the cigarette—she looks like the mother Susie photographed, the Abigail who never had children. She asks why his wife killed herself and Len tells her he doesn’t know but that the question preoccupies him when he is not thinking about Susie’s murder. Abigail smiles when he says “your daughter’s murder” because no one in the neighborhood ever talks about it directly. She has him repeat the phrase, and then she kisses him.

Susie was always aware that her mother was irresistible, especially when in need. But her father had always been the one who could make her let go and make her laugh. When Lindsey and Susie were little, their father would come home from work early on Thursdays and that was Mommy and Daddy time. Abigail would have them bathe early, and tell them stories from Greek mythology. Abigail has a master’s in English, and Susie felt like her birth prevented her mother from doing what she wanted to do. After the bath she would dry them both as they chattered and then put them down for a nap. Susie and Abigail tucked Lindsey in together and then Abigail would tuck Susie in and confide in her. Abigail was lonely and Susie, as the oldest, was her only friend. One day she asked Susie if she knows who Persephone was. Susie did not answer because she has learned that bath time is when she is allowed to talk, but when they are in her room it is her mother’s turn to talk. She told her all about Persephone while Susie fell asleep. Sometimes Susie was awoken by laughter and the sounds of love-making; Susie would pretend they were all in a ship with the ocean all around them.

Everything shifted for Abigail when she got pregnant with Buckley. She stopped reading the novels she was always so fond of and began replacing them with books on parenting, cooking, and gardening. She sealed away the mysterious mother. But even though she had bottled up that part of her, she was still needy, and this came out in her kiss with Len. He resists, but she wants him to kiss her and touch her so she can forget.

Susie notes that she used to watch her mother ride the lawn mower, and remembers how she used to whistle when she made her tea and how her face would light up when Jack brought her marigolds. With just Jack, she was in love, but with her children she grew away while Jack grew closer to them.

Abigail passes Hal as she goes back to Jack’s room. He stops her to tell her Lindsey is in there. Abigail realizes she needs to gather herself together, which was Hal’s purpose in stopping her. Lindsey has fallen asleep while holding her father’s hand. Susie watches the three of them in the room together. She remembers playing hide-and-seek with her mother when she was little, trying to win her approval. She decides now that she will not divide them in her heart.

Susie and Holly sometimes watch the souls coming up from hospitals when they cannot sleep at night. Franny tells Susie when she first arrives that she still loves to watch them. When Susie first started to watch them, she felt them before she saw them, and they looked like tiny sparks, or fireflies. Franny compares them to snowflakes—each one is different but from where they are they all look the same.

Chapter 13

When Lindsey returns to school in the fall she is known as the daughter of the nutcase, which she finds very hurtful because she knows it is not true. Clarissa and Brian are in high school and they use the incident to make them cool. Clarissa has lost her virginity to Brian and Susie notes that everyone she knows is growing up. Buckley goes to kindergarten that year and has a crush on his teacher, Miss Koekle. He is set apart from the other children because of Susie’s death.

No one goes inside the Salmon house except for family. Jack’s leg will always be stiff but he should be able to walk again. Buckley asks a lot of questions about his father’s fake knee. He brings reports of what his father says and of kindergarten to his mother, who listens and nods. She becomes absorbed in the small tasks of being a mother, cutting vegetables, washing lunchboxes, folding clothes, etc. When Buckley talks to her she pays attention for a few minutes and then lets her mind wander and thinks of Len.

By November, Jack can hobble, and Buckley eggs him on. The one year anniversary of Susie’s death is approaching. Jack has taken an extended sick leave from his firm; everyone there treats him differently now. He no longer pursues Mr. Harvey or mentions him to Abigail. He apologizes for this to Susie in his journal. He sets his return to the firm for December 2nd, right before the anniversary. He notices that Abigail is pulling away. Jack decides he will build back his strength and pursue Mr. Harvey.

Grandma Lynn is due for a Thanksgiving visit. Lindsey has been keeping up a beauty regime prescribed by her. Abigail considers beautifying for Len, but realizes she is not in love with him, that she wants to use him to forget. Two weeks before Thanksgiving Jack decides to try and give Buckley a piggyback to return to father-child normalcy. The piggyback is successful, and they run up the stairs and find Lindsey shaving her legs in the bathroom. Jack tells her she is too young to shave her legs. Jack sends Buckley to his room and then offers to get Lindsey a fresh blade. He gives her tips on how to shave. Lindsey offers to let him stay. Jack mentions they never talk about Susie—Lindsey says it is because she is everywhere. She asks him if he still thinks George Harvey did it and he says he does. She asks why Len does not arrest him, but Jack explains that it is not that simple; there is no evidence, nothing to link Harvey to Susie. They wish they could find her body.

The make-up Lindsey wears does not completely disguise the fact that her eyes look like Susie’s. Lindsey realizes that talking about finding evidence makes her father see her as Lindsey instead of a combination of his two daughters. Lindsey suggests they need to get into Harvey’s house. Jack hesitates and tells her that is illegal—but Lindsey knows he needs someone to do it for him.

Grandma Lynn arrives on the Monday before Thanksgiving. She notices something different in Abigail’s eyes. Lynn offers to help Abigail clean up, which is very rare. Abigail refuses but Lynn insists. They do it in silence. Then Lynn suggests they go for a walk because she knows something is going on with Abigail. On the walk Lynn tells Abigail that her father had a long-term affair with another woman. Abigail tells her she is not sure why she is telling her this. Lynn takes her hand; the two of them have never been affectionate, so the action is awkward. Lynn admits that Susie’s death helped her mourn her own husband’s death, which she never did properly. Abigail tells Lynn she resents her for that. Lynn is glad for the nugget of truth. Abigail admits she has always felt alone. Lynn asks Abigail to stop seeing the man she is seeing; Abigail says she is not seeing anyone, and asks if she could use her father’s cabin if she needs to get away. Abigail suggests they walk past George Harvey’s house. Then they smell foreign cigarettes; Abigail goes off in pursuit of them, and Lynn heads home. Abigail finds Ruana Singh smoking. Ruana is not startled by Abigail; she calls her Mrs. Salmon and tells her she is glad to see her. Dr. Singh is having a party and Ruana has discreetly stepped out to smoke. Ruana comments that they live in a weird place. Abigail asks for a cigarette and asks Ruana to call her Abigail. Ray can smell the cigarettes from his room and wonders what Abigail is doing outside with his mother. He also wonders if things would have been different if he had kissed Susie on the scaffolding.

Lynn continues on the route planned by Abigail. When she passes George Harvey’s house she feels that it radiates malevolence. She decides she should have sympathy for Abigail because she is living inside of a figurative ground zero. She will offer her the keys to the cabin so she can use them anytime.

That night Abigail has a wonderful dream; she dreams she is in India. A young girl is led to a pyre and wrapped and burned alive. The bright fire brings Abigail to bliss; before the girl was burned her body had been clean and whole.

Chapter 14

Lindsey watches George Harvey’s house while she is running with the soccer team. Samuel runs with her; he is good at running but not at soccer. Since he runs ahead to set the pace, he does not notice her scoping out Harvey’s house. But Harvey notices and it makes him itch. This has happened to him before, where only a girl’s family will suspect him. He leaves the house daily for an hour or two to pick up supplies and go for a walk in Valley Forge Park. Sometimes he runs into field trips there, and when the teachers give him questioning stares he gives them a line about how he used to take his kids there or that he met his wife there. He talks about his victims as if they were his wives. He uses whichever one is on his mind at the time. Once a heavy woman converses with him; he imagines her dead in his basement. After that he no longer talks to anyone at the park.

On November 26th, 1974 Lindsey sees Mr. Harvey leave his house while she is running with her team. She feigns a cramp and waits until the boys have all passed her. She breaks the glass in the basement window in order to get in. Lindsey thinks of Samuel and how he will wait for her. She wonders how long he will wait. She has not told anyone about what she was doing. Lindsey wanted to go through the rooms methodically to find clues. Mr. Harvey’s house is laid out the same as theirs but it has no warmth. She is flooded with memories from childhood, of chasing Susie, of Susie giving Buckley piggybacks, of Susie putting the star on the Christmas tree, and more—about Holiday, about Easter. She sees Susie darting into the other room. She is a child running ahead of her. Susie realizes she may be pushing too hard on the Inbetween and she might hurt her instead of helping. She notes that all of Harvey’s victims are present in the house, and calls their names: Jackie Meyer, Flora Hernandez, Leah Fox, Sophie Cichetti, Leidia Johnson, Wendy Richter. Then Susie pays attention to Lindsey again. Lindsey goes upstairs and sees Harvey’s sketchbook. At the same time, Harvey pulls into the drive-way. Lindsey finds a sketch of the hole he had made in Stolfuz cornfield, where he killed Susie. She rips the page out and escapes out the window, but not before Harvey sees her.

When Lindsey comes home everyone is there, including Grandma Lynn and Samuel. Lindsey only speaks to her father, and gives him what she has found. He asks if she believes him now, and she says she does. Abigail is irritated and states she is going to pick up Buckley. Jack places a call to the police station.

Susie is grateful her sister was able to escape unharmed. Franny gives Susie a map to a field she has seen but never explored. Susie goes there and meets a little girl who also knows Franny. She introduces herself as Flora Hernandez, and Susie introduces herself as well and begins to cry at knowing another girl he killed. Flora tells her the other will arrive soon.


The theme of guilt and responsibility is prevalent in these chapters. Jack’s decision to venture into the cornfield to pursue who he thought was Mr. Harvey shows his feeling of responsibility to avenge Susie’s death. His injuries weaken him—he can only hobble. He has a physical loss of strength that is symbolizes the physical and emotional loss of Susie. But his recovery from his injury parallels his survival of grief. With his recovery he is more able to be a father to Buckley, giving him a piggyback ride. He is also able to be a there for Lindsey and stops seeing Susie in Lindsey, seeing her at last as her own person.

Meanwhile, Abigail is more and more mentally and emotionally absent from the family. Her mental and emotional absence is her way of removing herself from the pain. Abigail’s distance from her family is emphasized when Jack finds Lindsey shaving her legs and he is the one who gives her tips on how to shave, rather than her mother. With Susie’s death, the roles in the family are no longer as clear—Lindsey acts as a parent to Buckley and to her father, and Jack is a “mother” to Lindsey in this situation. Jack also acts as Lindsey’s child in many ways, since Lindsey feels the responsibility to take care of him. When she speaks to him in the bathroom she wants to help her father prove that George Harvey is her sister’s murderer; she is taking care of him because she knows he cannot do it himself.

Although Abigail is pulling away from her family now, Susie remembers when her mother used to bathe her and Lindsey when they were little, before Buckley was born. During this time she was not as distant from her family because she still allowed her true self to shine through. When Abigail is telling stories, the author includes an intertextual reference to Greek mythology. Persephone was captured by Hades and brought to the underworld to be the queen. While she was there she ate pomegranate seeds, which caused her to have to commit part of her year to the underworld. This story is a loose parallel to Abigail, who is trapped by motherhood and is thus obligated to be a mother even though that is not the “world” she wants to be in. Like Persephone, she still spends part of her time as the true Abigail, who loves literature and is in love with Jack.

While Susie and Lindsey were the first products of her and Jack’s love, and were thus the initial “seeds” that made her obligated to a life as a mother, Buckley’s birth makes her completely resign herself to motherhood. Sebold uses the metaphor to describe how Abigail “bottled” the mysterious part of her when she had Buckley; the metaphor demonstrates how Abigail has contained her real self for many years because she believed being a mother was more important. This part of her comes out in her affair with Len. She also uses the affair as a way of filling the Susie’s absence. The affair signifies the completion of her psychological absence from her family. The dream Abigail has at the end of Chapter 13 is representative of her desire to escape. The wholeness of the girl’s body in the dream is a wistful reminder of what she does not have with Susie—she has nothing to burn, no body to get rid of, yet she has an emotional burden that she wants to be free from.

Isolation is another prevalent theme in these chapters. After Jack’s incident in the cornfield, the Salmons are the only ones who go inside their house. They have isolated themselves from the neighborhood and from any outside influences. The implication is that the neighborhood also seems to think they need to be left alone in order to recover from the incident and from Susie’s death as the one-year anniversary approaches. Lynn thinks of the household as a “ground zero”—metaphorically, Susie's death was an explosion. Lynn realizes this because Abigail admits to her mother how alone she is; she is the most cut off of all of the family members in the house. She connects to Ruana as another isolated mother.

The Salmon children are isolated as well. Buckley is set apart from the other children at school by his teacher, who gives him special treatment. Lindsey decides to go to Mr. Harvey’s house alone to investigate. While there, Susie refers back to the title of her paper on Othello, turned in right before her death “The Ostracized: One Man Alone.” The “ostracized” is Lindsey, as she excludes herself from the soccer run to go on this mission, alone. Her action parallels Mr. Harvey, because he too has separated himself from society and chooses to live his life alone. While she is at Mr. Harvey’s house, she thinks of photographs that were taken of her and Susie on special occasions; she remembers that they always turn out fuzzy and she doesn’t feel they capture the moments when they were sisters. Here, Lindsey notes the lack of power a photograph has to truly convey a relationship between two people. Being at Mr. Harvey’s house, Susie is no longer isolated because she can see that parts of all his other victims are there too. The author uses exposition to list off Mr. Harvey’s other victims. Chapter 14 ends with Susie meeting all of the other victims in heaven and having the opportunity to tell her story; she feels that this is the solution to her longing and her pain—which related to the theme of finding ways to “survive” the grief of her death.