The Lovely Bones

Jack Salmon Character Analysis

Susie’s father Jack delights in his role as a husband and father. Loving to the point of foolishness and at times dedicated to the point of madness, Jack is transformed by his grief in the wake of his daughter’s death, and becomes desperate to solve her murder. After an encounter with George Harvey, during which he unknowingly helps his daughter’s killer construct a ritual bridal tent in Harvey’s backyard—allegedly in remembrance of Harvey’s late wife—Jack realizes that Harvey knows something about Susie’s death, and begins to suspect that he is her murderer. Jack can find no evidence linking Harvey to Susie, however, and his frustration begins to drive him mad. Driven by the encouraging words of his neighbor, Ruana Singh, Jack goes off into the cornfield one night to catch someone he believes to be Harvey, setting out for another kill—but it is just a pair of necking teens, and Jack is beaten badly both physically and psychologically by his failure. Lindsey steps in and attempts to help her father prove that he was always right, and was never crazy, but by the time the police begin to thoroughly investigate a piece of evidence she retrieves from Harvey’s house, it is too late—Harvey has already escaped. Shortly thereafter, Abigail leaves Jack and their children, and Jack must reckon with yet another major loss. In the years that pass Jack grows slow and somewhat debilitated, overwhelmed by his grief and pain. He remains loving and supportive of his children, and even when threatened by a heart attack, he remains a sensitive and engaged parent. Jack, like his son Buckley, feels—rightly—throughout his life that Susie is watching over him and guiding him, and this gives him the strength, even in his darkest moments, to carry on in pursuit of justice for his daughter, his family, and his own fatherly intuition.

Jack Salmon Quotes in The Lovely Bones

The The Lovely Bones quotes below are all either spoken by Jack Salmon or refer to Jack 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.
Prologue Quotes

Inside the snow globe on my father’s desk, there was a penguin wearing a red-and-white-striped scarf. When I was little my father would pull me into his lap and reach for the snow globe. He would turn it over, letting all the snow collect on the top, then quickly invert it. The two of us watched the snow fall gently around the penguin. The penguin was alone in there, I thought, and I worried for him. When I told my father this, he said, "Don't worry Susie; he has a nice life. He's trapped in a perfect world."

Related Characters: Susie Salmon (speaker), Jack Salmon
Related Symbols: The Snow Globe
Page Number: 3
Explanation and Analysis:
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Chapter 1 Quotes

My murderer was a man from our neighborhood. My mother liked his border flowers, and my father talked to him once about fertilizer. My murderer believed in old-fashioned things like eggshells and coffee grounds, which he said his own mother had used. My father came home smiling, making jokes about how the man's garden might be beautiful but it would stink to high heaven once a heat wave hit.

Related Characters: Susie Salmon (speaker), Jack Salmon, Abigail Salmon, George Harvey
Page Number: 6
Explanation and Analysis:
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Chapter 3 Quotes

The bottles, all of them, lay broken on the floor, the sails and boat bodies strewn among them. He stood in the wreckage. It was then that, without knowing how, I revealed myself. In every piece of glass, in every shard and sliver, I cast my face. My father glanced down and around him, his eyes roving across the room. Wild. It was just for a second, and then I was gone. He was quiet for a moment, and then he laughed—a howl coming up from the bottom of his stomach. He laughed so loud and deep, I shook with it in my heaven.

Related Characters: Susie Salmon (speaker), Jack Salmon
Page Number: 46
Explanation and Analysis:
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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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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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Jack Salmon Character Timeline in The Lovely Bones

The timeline below shows where the character Jack 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
Tragedy, Grief, Alienation, and Isolation Theme Icon
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Desire and Longing Theme Icon
On December ninth, Jack Salmon, Susie’s father, takes a phone call from the police. The lead detective on the... (full context)
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The next morning, Jack pours a bottle of scotch down the sink. Lindsey, Susie’s younger sister, asks him why.... (full context)
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...tell them they believe they have found one of Susie’s schoolbooks. Though evidence is mounting, Jack and Abigail continue to explain away the policemen’s finds, refusing to believe that their daughter... (full context)
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...Fenerman knocks on the Salmons’ front door. In the living room, he sits down with Jack, Lindsey, and Abigail and reveals that the police have found yet another personal item of... (full context)
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Jack leads Len to the door, where Len tells him that going forward, the police are... (full context)
Chapter 3
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...it is by accident—two days before Christmas, just weeks after her death. As she watches Jack clean his den, she reflects on the craft they had worked on together in that... (full context)
Chapter 4
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...been to this sinkhole with her father to dump an old refrigerator, and she remembers Jack describing the sinkhole as the Earth’s mouth. Mr. Harvey knocked on the door of the... (full context)
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Jack, having just smashed all of his glass bottles and seen Susie’s face in the shards,... (full context)
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...is done, and Mr. Harvey goes back into the house. Outside, it begins to snow. Jack takes the snow as a sign from Susie, and asks aloud what she’s trying to... (full context)
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...a stack of sheets in his arms, meant to be draped over the structure. When Jack reaches for the sheets, his hand touches Harvey’s, and Jack experiences an “electric shock.” Jack... (full context)
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...about use the structure as a wedding tent. Mr. Harvey imagines receiving a virgin bride. Jack moves toward Mr. Harvey, but Harvey holds his palm out, and instructs Jack to go... (full context)
Chapter 5
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When Jack returns from building the tent at Harvey’s that day, Abigail is not home. Jack goes... (full context)
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Lindsey returns home, and Jack is relieved to have some noise and company in the house. Susie momentarily resents her... (full context)
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Jack knocks on Lindsey’s door, and Lindsey shouts for him to go away. Jack begs Lindsey... (full context)
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Jack knows that the window of time during which physical evidence connecting a killer to a... (full context)
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Abigail is downstairs, having arrived home while Jack was on the phone. She is hiding in the bathroom, eating macaroons. Buckley knocks on... (full context)
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...for specialty toy stores. On his second visit to Harvey’s home, in the wake of Jack’s phone call, Fenerman asks Harvey about his recent conversation with Jack Salmon. Mr. Harvey replies... (full context)
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Later, Len calls Jack Salmon to tell him that though Harvey is odd, there is nothing incriminating or suspicious... (full context)
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...visit her. She gets up to greet him, leaving the game of Monopoly she and Jack are playing together. While Samuel and Lindsey converse in the kitchen, Buckley asks Jack where... (full context)
Chapter 6
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One afternoon, Jack Salmon knocks on the door of the Singh house. He is “struck dumb” when Ray’s... (full context)
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Jack asks Ruana if things have been hard for Ray, what with the policemen’s investigation of... (full context)
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Jack tells Ruana that he knows who killed Susie. She asks if he’s informed the police,... (full context)
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...that she will go out to the street to meet him, and tell him that Jack is waiting for him inside. Before putting on her coat and boots, she tells Jack... (full context)
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...do something else “uncontrollable,” and reveal himself. Fenerman has come over to the Salmons’ while Jack is at the Singhs’. Abigail tells Fenerman where Jack is, and Fenerman agrees to wait... (full context)
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...resolution on the back. There is no 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... (full context)
Chapter 9
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As Grandma Lynn pulls up to the house, she calls out to Jack, who is sitting on the porch, that she needs a stiff drink. Lindsey runs away... (full context)
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...Salmons, together with the Hecklers, head into the church. Len Fenerman is inside, and though Jack asks him to come sit with their family, Len implies that he wants to stand... (full context)
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That morning, Jack woke up with a hangover. Though the days since Susie’s death have all been miserable,... (full context)
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...everyone says nice things about Susie—Principal Caden, Mrs. Dewitt, and the Reverend Strick all speak—but Jack and Abigail sit numbly through the memorial. Lindsey, too, does not react to Samuel’s attempts... (full context)
Chapter 11
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One morning, while Lindsey is still away at the symposium, Jack Salmon wakes up early. He checks on Buckley, pulls on his jogging outfit, and takes... (full context)
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All summer, Jack has been calling the police repeatedly to report small things about Harvey, thus irritating the... (full context)
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That night, Jack writes in his notebook that “Abigail thinks Len Fenerman is right about Harvey.” Alone in... (full context)
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Jack reaches the soccer field, then the cornfield, following the beam until it goes dark. Jack... (full context)
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...a flashlight in hand, and suddenly hears “cries for help.” In a moment of delusion, Jack rushes up against Clarissa, believing her to be Susie. He begins calling Susie’s name aloud.... (full context)
Chapter 12
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...family is awakened by police sirens down the street. Abigail instructs Lindsey to go wake Jack, who she assumes has fallen asleep in his study, but Lindsey finds that her father... (full context)
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...Lindsey up on his motorcycle and bring her to the hospital. When Lindsey walks into Jack’s room at the hospital, Abigail is not there. Lindsey, crying, comforts her sleeping father, and... (full context)
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...they touch hands, then retreat to the visitors’ area to talk. Abigail explains what has happened—Jack followed Clarissa, thinking she was George Harvey. As Abigail and Len enter the visitors’ area,... (full context)
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...the visitor’s area, watches Abigail and Len—hair and clothes mussed—walk back down the hall toward Jack’s room. Farther down the hall, Hal stops Abigail just before she goes into Jack’s room,... (full context)
Chapter 13
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...not just the sister of the dead girl, but the daughter of a “crackpot”—news of Jack’s mishap in the field has spread throughout the neighborhood. Lindsey knows that Brian and Clarissa—who... (full context)
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By October, Jack is just beginning to get up and around. Doctors have told him that his right... (full context)
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As November speeds by and the first anniversary of Susie’s death steadily approaches, Jack—who has been on an extended leave from work—prepares to return to the office. He has... (full context)
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One afternoon shortly before Thanksgiving, Jack finds Lindsey attempting to shave her legs for the first time. Jack helps her, but... (full context)
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...way home, she senses something evil radiating from the house, and right away knows that Jack is right. She understands the magnitude of what her daughter is going through, and plans... (full context)
Chapter 14
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When Lindsey walks in the front door of her own home Jack, Abigail, Grandma Lynn, and Samuel are sitting together, worried sick that she has come home... (full context)
Chapter 15
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Jack calls the station and asks for Len Fenerman, but Fenerman cannot be located—the police tell... (full context)
Chapter 16
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Jack’s car pulls into the driveway. Lindsey meets Jack in the mud room and asks him... (full context)
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As Jack, Lindsey, and Buckley approach the field, Jack becomes emotional. He wants Susie to live on... (full context)
Snapshots
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Susie reflects on her great passion in life—photography. She took so many photographs that Jack would make her choose which rolls she wanted developed—there were too many to send out... (full context)
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One evening in the summer of 1975, Jack and Abigail make love. The next morning, she leaves for her father’s cabin in New... (full context)
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Buckley, now seven, builds a fort. Jack does not help him—it reminds him of building the bridal tent with Mr. Harvey. Instead... (full context)
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...an old Coke bottle bearing both Harvey’s fingerprints and Susie’s, and Fenerman at last believes Jack, knowing he was right all along. Mr. Harvey has disappeared into thin air, leaving behind... (full context)
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Jack organizes a memorial for Susie each year. As the years pass by, fewer and fewer... (full context)
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...book about gardening. Abigail calls from California every once in a while. Her conversations with Jack are strained and hurried. Jack often tells Abigail that he misses her, but Abigail shows... (full context)
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...to wait until he is certain of anything, either way, to get in touch with Jack Salmon. (full context)
Chapter 17
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At home, in his den, Jack Salmon plays with an old snow globe that Susie once loved. Hal Heckler has made... (full context)
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...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 Salmons and the Heckler boys sit... (full context)
Chapter 18
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...Susie’s old clothes, which he plans to use to help stake his tomato plants. When Jack sees Buckley with Susie’s clothes, he tells Buckley that he cannot use them for gardening.... (full context)
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Jack tells Buckley that he isn’t feeling very well, and collapses into the grass. His arm... (full context)
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...hospital bed, she wonders in which direction she should usher him. She knows that if Jack dies, he will join her in her heaven, and she will have him forever—but she... (full context)
Chapter 19
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...away. Abigail begins dialing local hospitals in Norristown, until she finds one that tells her Jack was admitted recently. She asks what happened to him, and when the operator asks what... (full context)
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...Lynn; she lets her mother know that she is on her way. Lynn reveals that Jack has been asking for her, and also lets Abigail know that Lindsey and Samuel are... (full context)
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...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 and do something, but... (full context)
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...same hospital she came to eight years ago in the middle of the night, when Jack went out into the cornfield. She recalls her first kiss with Len, which took place... (full context)
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...of the room and into the waiting area, intercepting a nurse carrying a message for Jack Salmon. Lynn reads the note: it is from Len Fenerman, and it promises that he... (full context)
Chapter 20
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...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,... (full context)
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...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... (full context)
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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... (full context)
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Jack wakes at close to four in the morning. He wishes he could hold the sleeping... (full context)
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Jack asks Abigail how it was to see Buckley and Lindsey, and she admits that it... (full context)
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Jack tells Abigail that Susie appeared in the room just now, and presses Abigail to admit... (full context)
Chapter 21
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...bodies that have been linked to Mr. Harvey. Len is gearing up to go visit Jack in the hospital, and is thinking hard about what he is going to say. He... (full context)
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Len arrives at the hospital and enters Jack’s room. Abigail awkwardly welcomes him. Len tells Abigail and Jack not to get their hopes... (full context)
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...nearby town—the bike shop is abandoned for the day. Abigail is at the hospital with Jack, reading to him from the newspaper. Lindsey is at home alone. Mr. Harvey is driving... (full context)
Chapter 23
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At the hospital, a nurse helps Jack into a wheelchair—it is time for him to go home. Buckley, Lindsey, and Abigail ride... (full context)
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...return from the hospital. Susie senses that during the forty-eight hours her mother sat by Jack’s side, the world has changed—but she notes that it will change again and again, endlessly,... (full context)
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...the Salmons unpack the car, Lindsey asks her mother if she is going to hurt Jack again. Abigail assures her that she is going to do “everything she can not to,”... (full context)
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...of champagne in a toast, and says how grateful he is to have Abigail and Jack back home, and how honored he is to be marrying Lindsey. As Susie watches her... (full context)
Bones
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...restore the house, Lindsey discovers that she is pregnant. The Salmons are all overjoyed, and Jack hopes that one day he will be able to teach another child to build ships... (full context)