The Lovely Bones

Buckley Salmon Character Analysis

The youngest of the Salmon children, Buckley is only four when Susie is killed. At first, the Salmons shield him from the truth, but eventually help him to understand that his beloved older sister is gone, and is never coming back. Over the years, Buckley tells anyone who will listen that he often sees and talks to Susie, and that she comes to visit him at night. It is never fully revealed whether Buckley’s visions of Susie are real, or just the product of a child’s imagination. As he grows older, Buckley becomes quiet and introverted, marked not just by the loss of his sister but also by his mother’s abandonment.

Buckley Salmon Quotes in The Lovely Bones

The The Lovely Bones quotes below are all either spoken by Buckley Salmon or refer to Buckley Salmon. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Justice and Injustice Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Back Bay edition of The Lovely Bones published in 2002.
Chapter 16 Quotes

My neighbors and teachers, friends and family, circled an arbitrary spot not far from where I'd been killed. My father, sister and brother heard the singing again once they were outside. Everything in my father leaned and pitched toward the warmth and light. He wanted so badly to have me remembered in the minds and hearts of everyone. I knew something as I watched: almost everyone was saying goodbye to me. I was becoming one of many little-girl-losts. They would go back to their homes and put me to rest, a letter from the past never reopened or reread.

Related Characters: Susie Salmon (speaker), Jack Salmon, Lindsey Salmon, Buckley Salmon
Page Number: 209
Explanation and Analysis:
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Snapshots Quotes

Years passed. The trees in our yard grew taller. I watched my family and my friends and neighbors, the teachers whom I'd had or imagined having, the high school I had dreamed about. As I sat in the gazebo I would pretend instead that I was sitting on the topmost branch of the maple under which my brother had swallowed a stick and still played hide-and-seek with Nate, or I would perch on the railing of a stairwell in New York and wait for Ruth to pass near. I would study with Ray. Drive the Pacific Coast Highway on a warm afternoon of salty air with my mother. But I would end each day with my father in his den. I would lay these photographs down in my mind, those gathered from my constant watching, and I could trace how one thing—my death—connected these images to a single source. No one could have predicted how my loss would change small moments on Earth. But I held on to those moments, hoarded them. None of them were lost as long as I was there watching.

Related Symbols: Susie’s Photographs
Page Number: 230-231
Explanation and Analysis:
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Chapter 18 Quotes

Above his bed the clock ticked off the minutes and I thought of the game Lindsey and I had played in the yard together: "he loves me/he loves me not" picked out on a daisy's petals. I could hear the clock casting my own two greatest wishes back to me in this same rhythm: "Die for me/don't die for me, die for me/don't die for me." I could not help myself, it seemed, as I tore at his weakening heart. If he died, I would have him forever. Was this so wrong to want?

Related Characters: Susie Salmon (speaker), Jack Salmon, Lindsey Salmon, Buckley Salmon
Page Number: 258
Explanation and Analysis:
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Chapter 19 Quotes

On the flight to Philadelphia, she sat alone in the middle of a row of three seats. She could not help but think of how, if she were a mother traveling, there would be two seats filled beside her. One for Lindsey. One for Buckley. But though she was, by definition, a mother, she had at some point ceased to be one too. She couldn't claim that right and privilege after missing more than half a decade of their lives. She now knew that being a mother was a calling, something plenty of young girls dreamed of being. But my mother had never had that dream, and she had been punished in the most horrible and unimaginable way for never having wanted me. I watched her on the plane, and I sent a wish into the clouds for her release. Her body grew heavy with the dread of what would come but in this heaviness was at least relief. The stewardess handed her a small blue pillow and for a little while she fell asleep.

Related Characters: Susie Salmon (speaker), Abigail Salmon, Lindsey Salmon, Buckley Salmon
Page Number: 266
Explanation and Analysis:
Quotes explanation short mobile
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Buckley Salmon Character Timeline in The Lovely Bones

The timeline below shows where the character Buckley Salmon appears in The Lovely Bones. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 2
Justice and Injustice Theme Icon
Family and Community Theme Icon
The Salmons remain at home during the search. Buckley, Susie’s four-year-old brother, is over at a friend’s house—his parents have told him that Susie... (full context)
Tragedy, Grief, Alienation, and Isolation Theme Icon
Family and Community Theme Icon
Desire and Longing Theme Icon
...she has her own. Susie looks down at her family’s kitchen, considering a drawing of Buckley’s which Abigail placed on the fridge just hours before Susie’ death: a thick blue line... (full context)
Chapter 5
Tragedy, Grief, Alienation, and Isolation Theme Icon
Family and Community Theme Icon
...home while Jack was on the phone. She is hiding in the bathroom, eating macaroons. Buckley knocks on the door over and over, shouting “Momma.” Abigail “despise[s]” the word. When she... (full context)
Tragedy, Grief, Alienation, and Isolation Theme Icon
Family and Community Theme Icon
On Christmas Day, Buckley plays happily with his toys, but the atmosphere in the rest of the house is... (full context)
Chapter 6
Justice and Injustice Theme Icon
Tragedy, Grief, Alienation, and Isolation Theme Icon
...Fenerman where Jack is, and Fenerman agrees to wait for him until he gets home. Buckley and his friend Nate come into the room, and Abigail helps them color on white... (full context)
Justice and Injustice Theme Icon
Tragedy, Grief, Alienation, and Isolation Theme Icon
Desire and Longing Theme Icon
...date on Susie’s, and none on his wife’s. Jack comes in, and hugs Nate and Buckley. He greets Len Fenerman, and Abigail sends the boys upstairs, explaining that Jack and Detective... (full context)
 Chapter 7
Tragedy, Grief, Alienation, and Isolation Theme Icon
Family and Community Theme Icon
As Nate and Buckley climb the stairs, Buckley asks Nate if he can see Susie at the top of... (full context)
Tragedy, Grief, Alienation, and Isolation Theme Icon
Family and Community Theme Icon
Buckley tells Nate that Susie came in and kissed him on the cheek last night while... (full context)
Justice and Injustice Theme Icon
Family and Community Theme Icon
Susie explains that a year earlier, when he was three, Buckley swallowed the twig while playing in the backyard with Nate. Susie had been supposed to... (full context)
Tragedy, Grief, Alienation, and Isolation Theme Icon
Family and Community Theme Icon
Nate and Buckley pass the twig back and forth, and Buckley grows nauseous at the memory of his... (full context)
Tragedy, Grief, Alienation, and Isolation Theme Icon
Family and Community Theme Icon
Desire and Longing Theme Icon
...and Holly’s house, the crows alight from the building and follow her. Susie wonders if Buckley has really seen her, or if he is just a “little boy telling beautiful lies.” (full context)
Chapter 11
Justice and Injustice Theme Icon
Tragedy, Grief, Alienation, and Isolation Theme Icon
Family and Community Theme Icon
Desire and Longing Theme Icon
...Lindsey is still away at the symposium, Jack Salmon wakes up early. He checks on Buckley, pulls on his jogging outfit, and takes Holiday out for a walk—an excuse to pass... (full context)
Justice and Injustice Theme Icon
Tragedy, Grief, Alienation, and Isolation Theme Icon
Love and Sex Theme Icon
Family and Community Theme Icon
Desire and Longing Theme Icon
...some boundaries. Lindsey lets Len in—she has just returned from camp. Jack greets Len, and Buckley—who has begun to idolize Len—rushes to say hello as well. Jack shoos Lindsey and Buckley... (full context)
Chapter 12
Justice and Injustice Theme Icon
Tragedy, Grief, Alienation, and Isolation Theme Icon
Love and Sex Theme Icon
Family and Community Theme Icon
Desire and Longing Theme Icon
...bat and is in the hospital, having surgery on his knee. Abigail leaves Lindsey and Buckley alone in the house to go to her husband’s side. (full context)
Tragedy, Grief, Alienation, and Isolation Theme Icon
Family and Community Theme Icon
Lindsey calls Buckley’s friend’s Nate’s mother, who comes to take Buckley. She then calls Samuel, who sends his... (full context)
Justice and Injustice Theme Icon
Tragedy, Grief, Alienation, and Isolation Theme Icon
Love and Sex Theme Icon
Family and Community Theme Icon
Desire and Longing Theme Icon
...mother from the photograph—the version of her mother who had never had Susie, Lindsey, and Buckley. Abigail asks Len why his wife killed herself, and he tells her that though he... (full context)
Justice and Injustice Theme Icon
Tragedy, Grief, Alienation, and Isolation Theme Icon
Love and Sex Theme Icon
Family and Community Theme Icon
Desire and Longing Theme Icon
Susie remembers how, when her mother realized that she was pregnant with Buckley, she sealed the more mysterious parts of herself off. Susie realizes, watching her mother and... (full context)
Tragedy, Grief, Alienation, and Isolation Theme Icon
Love and Sex Theme Icon
Family and Community Theme Icon
Desire and Longing Theme Icon
...Lindsey is in there. He lets her know that he brought Lindsey over, and that Buckley is safe with a neighbor. Hal asks Abigail if she’s okay, and she says that... (full context)
Chapter 13
Tragedy, Grief, Alienation, and Isolation Theme Icon
Family and Community Theme Icon
...Doctors have told him that his right knee will always be stiff from now on. Buckley has many questions about Jack’s fake knee, and Jack spins stories about it being made... (full context)
Chapter 14
Justice and Injustice Theme Icon
Tragedy, Grief, Alienation, and Isolation Theme Icon
Family and Community Theme Icon
...obsessions with Harvey and with Susie’s murder, announces that she is going to pick up Buckley. She leaves, and Lindsey grabs Samuel’s hand. She tells her father worriedly that she thinks... (full context)
Chapter 15
Justice and Injustice Theme Icon
Tragedy, Grief, Alienation, and Isolation Theme Icon
Love and Sex Theme Icon
Desire and Longing Theme Icon
After picking Buckley up from Nate’s house, Abigail stops at a pay phone, calls Len, and instructs him... (full context)
Chapter 16
Tragedy, Grief, Alienation, and Isolation Theme Icon
Family and Community Theme Icon
...mud room and asks him if he wants to go to the vigil; he does. Buckley rushes into the mudroom, and Jack wonders if it is appropriate to bring Buckley along.... (full context)
Justice and Injustice Theme Icon
Tragedy, Grief, Alienation, and Isolation Theme Icon
Family and Community Theme Icon
Desire and Longing Theme Icon
As Jack, Lindsey, and Buckley approach the field, Jack becomes emotional. He wants Susie to live on in the minds... (full context)
Snapshots
Tragedy, Grief, Alienation, and Isolation Theme Icon
Family and Community Theme Icon
Desire and Longing Theme Icon
Buckley, now seven, builds a fort. Jack does not help him—it reminds him of building the... (full context)
Tragedy, Grief, Alienation, and Isolation Theme Icon
Family and Community Theme Icon
Desire and Longing Theme Icon
...get, physical, and completely anonymous. As Abigail makes her way west, she sends Lindsey and Buckley postcards from every town she stops in. Once in California, she spends her days off... (full context)
Tragedy, Grief, Alienation, and Isolation Theme Icon
Family and Community Theme Icon
Desire and Longing Theme Icon
Grandma Lynn gives Buckley a book about gardening. Abigail calls from California every once in a while. Her conversations... (full context)
Tragedy, Grief, Alienation, and Isolation Theme Icon
Family and Community Theme Icon
Desire and Longing Theme Icon
Buckley, now ten, spends more and more time in his fort, allowing only Hal Heckler, Nate,... (full context)
Chapter 17
Tragedy, Grief, Alienation, and Isolation Theme Icon
Family and Community Theme Icon
...ceremony on his motorcycle, so the fact that Lindsey and Samuel have not worries him. Buckley, now 12, knocks on the door, reassuring him that Lindsey and Samuel will be all... (full context)
Tragedy, Grief, Alienation, and Isolation Theme Icon
Family and Community Theme Icon
Desire and Longing Theme Icon
...the kitchen, the doorbell rings. It is Lindsey and Samuel at the door, soaking wet. Buckley fetches towels for them, and Jack lights a fire in the living room. As the... (full context)
Chapter 18
Justice and Injustice Theme Icon
Tragedy, Grief, Alienation, and Isolation Theme Icon
Family and Community Theme Icon
That weekend, Buckley wakes early. Buckley is not athletic like Lindsey, and instead enjoys gardening. Buckley comes out... (full context)
Tragedy, Grief, Alienation, and Isolation Theme Icon
Family and Community Theme Icon
Jack tells Buckley that he isn’t feeling very well, and collapses into the grass. His arm tingles with... (full context)
Justice and Injustice Theme Icon
Tragedy, Grief, Alienation, and Isolation Theme Icon
Family and Community Theme Icon
Desire and Longing Theme Icon
...him forever—but she wonders if this is the wrong thing to want. Susie knows that Buckley wants Jack to live for the same reason—to keep him with him for as long... (full context)
Chapter 19
Tragedy, Grief, Alienation, and Isolation Theme Icon
Family and Community Theme Icon
...at the gate, or Samuel, who stands by her side. She does not even notice Buckley, sitting off to the side, until she is halfway down the carpeted ramp toward him.... (full context)
Justice and Injustice Theme Icon
Tragedy, Grief, Alienation, and Isolation Theme Icon
Family and Community Theme Icon
...air between them. Once in the car, Lindsey tells Abigail that the hospital won’t let Buckley in to see Jack because of his age. Abigail assures Lindsey and Buckley she’ll try... (full context)
Chapter 20
Tragedy, Grief, Alienation, and Isolation Theme Icon
Love and Sex 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... (full context)
Chapter 21
Family and Community Theme Icon
Desire and Longing Theme Icon
Susie checks in on her family. Hal, Samuel, and Buckley are at a bike show in a nearby town—the bike shop is abandoned for the... (full context)
Chapter 22
Love and Sex Theme Icon
Desire and Longing Theme Icon
...sitting there. She punches in the number to her house, and on the third ring, Buckley picks up. She tells him that it is Susie calling, but Buckley cannot hear her.... (full context)
Chapter 23
Tragedy, Grief, Alienation, and Isolation Theme Icon
Family and Community Theme Icon
...hospital, a nurse helps Jack into a wheelchair—it is time for him to go home. Buckley, Lindsey, and Abigail ride down in the elevator with him, and when the doors open... (full context)
Tragedy, Grief, Alienation, and Isolation Theme Icon
Family and Community Theme Icon
Hal buys Buckley a drum set, and it is waiting for him when the Salmons all return from... (full context)
Tragedy, Grief, Alienation, and Isolation Theme Icon
Love and Sex Theme Icon
Family and Community Theme Icon
Desire and Longing Theme Icon
...she knows what Abigail did, and then the two of them go inside to watch Buckley play his new drums. (full context)
Bones
Tragedy, Grief, Alienation, and Isolation Theme Icon
Family and Community Theme Icon
Desire and Longing Theme Icon
...time and amuse themselves, those in heaven commit small acts of benevolent mischief, like causing Buckley’s garden to come up all at once one year. Knowing that Abigail had stayed and... (full context)