Susie Salmon recalls a snow globe that, in her childhood, always sat on her father’s desk. Inside the snow globe was a penguin in a striped scarf. Susie often worried about the penguin, because he was alone, but Susie’s father always reassured her that the penguin had a “nice life,” and was “trapped in a perfect world.”
The snow globe, and the penguin in it, are a symbol of Susie’s imprisonment in her own “perfect world”—heaven. Susie’s concern for the penguin’s loneliness foreshadows the isolation and alienation she herself will feel once she becomes “trapped” in a supposedly “perfect” afterlife.