In the novel’s prologue, Susie reflects on being very young and playing with a snow globe that belonged to her father Jack. A penguin sat inside the slow globe, and Susie recalls being sad for the penguin every time she played with the globe, because she thought he must be lonely. Susie’s father reassured her that the penguin was fine and in fact happy—he was “trapped in a perfect world.” Susie, who narrates the story of her murder and the years which follow it, lives in her own heaven—a place tailor-made to her preferences, where her dreams of going to Fairfax High School, owning multiple dogs, and spending her nights singing and playing music are all fulfilled. Susie is “trapped,” though—she is compelled not to commit to her role in the afterlife, but instead to continue, at all hours, looking down on those she has left behind. Susie is all alone in a “perfect world,” just like the penguin she played with as a child. The snow globe, then, symbolizes Susie’s alienation and isolation from the world of the living, which she feels—justly—that she has been ripped away from far too soon.
The Snow Globe Quotes in The Lovely Bones
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."