The Lovely Bones

The Lovely Bones Chapter 20 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Mr. Harvey arrives at a tin-roofed shack in Connecticut. He killed a young waitress in the shack years earlier, and now, as he enters it, finds that the earth inside of it has been dug up. Mr. Harvey lies down on the ground and falls asleep next to the waitress’s empty grave.
The dug-up grave indicates that the police are discovering the remains of Harvey’s victims one by one. He knows his time is running out, but is powerless to stop the falling dominos all around him.
Themes
Justice and Injustice Theme Icon
Desire and Longing Theme Icon
To counter the list of the dead, Susie has begun keeping a list of the living—she has noticed that Len Fenerman does this, too. Off-duty, he notes all of the girls and women he observes throughout his days—living, breathing women. Len sees wounded women, too—they come to him for help at the station, but he can also sense the pain of women he sees in shops, restaurants, or on the street.
Bearing witness to so much death and pain has left Susie feeling like she needs to pay attention to the lives that are healthy, whole, and safe just as much as she needs to pay attention to the lives that are lost or stolen. Otherwise, she would go crazy with the weight of all the sorrow and suffering. She knows that Len feels this way as well.
Themes
Justice and Injustice Theme Icon
Tragedy, Grief, Alienation, and Isolation Theme Icon
Related Quotes
Len writes in Susie’s file for the first time in a long time. He has obtained the name of another potential victim, Sophie Cichetti, and has obtained the Pennsylvania keystone charm, though it did not reveal any fingerprints or other evidence. Len plans on giving the charm back to Jack, though this is against protocol. Len, having gotten word that Jack is in the hospital, believes that the charm will be a talisman that might even speed Jack’s recovery. Watching Len, Susie realizes that he has “followed the physical to try to understand things that were impossible to comprehend,” and feels that in this way, they are the same.
Susie sees another similarity between her and Len in this passage. Len’s job is all about finding physical evidence to help illuminate and make clear horrific acts of violence—he uses tangible things to make sense of the intangible, unbelievable nature of crime and violence. Susie, too, uses what she can see of the physical world to make sense of her removal from it—she attempts to understand the world of the living by observing but never actually experiencing it.
Themes
Justice and Injustice Theme Icon
Tragedy, Grief, Alienation, and Isolation Theme Icon
Desire and Longing Theme Icon
Outside the hospital, Abigail buys an enormous bunch of flowers from a vendor and brings them to Jack’s room. Everyone else has gone home from the hospital, but Abigail is not ready to go back to the house just yet—she needs some time to think. She goes across the street to a diner, sits alone in a booth, and eats. A man across from her looks at her, and Abigail falls into her old habit—one she has not held onto in California—of sizing up every man she sees as Susie’s potential murderer. As Abigail eats, she thinks that she cannot handle being home for more than a few days.
Abigail, after just a little bit of time back in the world she left, suddenly remembers why she left it. The pain, the curiosity, and the anger she feels about her daughter’s death blind her to everything else, and create an endless and painful cycle of anxiety and obsession. Abigail considers, as she eats in the diner, whether she is prepared to commit to a full-time return to this life, or whether it is easier to simply flee again.
Themes
Justice and Injustice Theme Icon
Tragedy, Grief, Alienation, and Isolation Theme Icon
Get the entire The Lovely Bones LitChart as a printable PDF.
The lovely bones.pdf.medium
Back at the hospital, Abigail plans to wait for Jack to wake and then say goodbye and return to California. As Abigail sits at Jack’s bedside, she takes his hand in hers, and wishes she could climb up onto the bed and lie beside him. She realizes that she is still in love with Jack, and wonders how she can love someone so much while keeping it a secret from herself every day.
Once she sits beside Jack, Abigail realizes that the love she feels for Jack—though she has tried to push it away—is stronger than the grief and shame she feels about Susie, and she must honor the light rather than return to the dark.
Themes
Tragedy, Grief, Alienation, and Isolation Theme Icon
Love and Sex Theme Icon
Family and Community Theme Icon
Desire and Longing Theme Icon
At about two in the morning it begins to rain. In Connecticut, rain falls on the tin-roofed shack where Mr. Harvey is sleeping—he is dreaming of Lindsey and the number on the back of her jersey flashing at him as she ran away from his house that fateful day. He has this dream whenever he feels threatened.
Mr. Harvey is threatened, and in one of his “not-still” dreams he returns to a similarly powerless and fearful moment—the moment he realized that Lindsey Salmon stood to bring him down.
Themes
Justice and Injustice Theme Icon
Jack wakes at close to four in the morning. He wishes he could hold the sleeping Abigail, but he is too weak. Instead he watches the rain hit the windows of his room. Susie slips into the room to be near her mother and father, and is present in a way she has never been—she is beside them, not hovering over them. Jack begins to speak—it is unclear if he is addressing Susie or Abigail. He says, “I thought if I was still enough you might come back,” and Abigail rouses from sleep.
The ambiguity of Jack’s statement in this passage reveals his allegiance both to Susie and to Abigail. Just after his loss of Susie he had to contend right away with the loss of Abigail, too, and he has longed for a way to get both of them back in the difficult years since. Both of them have come back to him, in a way, though he knows that only one of them can make the choice to stay forever.
Themes
Tragedy, Grief, Alienation, and Isolation Theme Icon
Family and Community Theme Icon
Desire and Longing Theme Icon
Jack asks Abigail how it was to see Buckley and Lindsey, and she admits that it was unbelievably hard. Jack confesses to Abigail that he fell in love with her all over again while she was away, and Susie, watching them, experiences deep envy for the love they share—for the fact that Jack loves Abigail in spite of, and perhaps even because of, her “brokenness.” Jack asks Abigail if she will stay, and she tells him that she will for a while. She reveals that she did not come back to “pretend”—she came back because she feared Jack was dying.
Susie understands that her parents have always loved one another, and as she watches them discuss and attempt to wrangle the pain, fear, and brokenness that have kept them apart for years, she understands—somewhat begrudgingly; she is Susie, after all—that their love for one another has overwhelmed their grief over her loss.
Themes
Tragedy, Grief, Alienation, and Isolation Theme Icon
Love and Sex Theme Icon
Family and Community Theme Icon
Desire and Longing Theme Icon
Jack tells Abigail that Susie appeared in the room just now, and presses Abigail to admit that she too sees Susie now and then. Abigail admits that she sees Susie “everywhere.” Jack asks what Abigail would say if he told her that Susie was in the room ten minutes ago; Abigail confesses that she would say he was “insane and probably right.” Susie watches as her parents kiss one another and together begin to cry.
Jack and Abigail’s mutual admission that they see their daughter “everywhere” allows them to embark on a new chapter in their relationship. Right after Susie’s death, each of them was always attempting to squash their grief, tamp down their pain, and “do the right thing” by moving on. Together, they now acknowledge that they will always bear the pain and guilt of Susie’s loss, but that they can rejoice in her ubiquitous presence in their lives rather than run from it.
Themes
Tragedy, Grief, Alienation, and Isolation Theme Icon
Family and Community Theme Icon
Desire and Longing Theme Icon