"The Lovely Bones" by Alice Sebold - Why Harvey Is Not Caught?

Essay by pballer8806High School, 12th gradeA+, March 2006

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"I was fourteen when I was murdered on December 6, 1973" Susie tells the reader (Sebold, 2002, p.5). In Alice Sebold's novel "The Lovely Bones", Mr. Harvey brutally rapes and murders Susie Salmon and is never caught. It is essential to the central themes of the novel that Mr. Harvey is never caught. This is because the book, with a few dramatic exceptions, zeroes in on the intangibles surrounding Susie's death, such as the way in which those close to Susie grieve and the new relationships that form around her death. Catching Harvey would make the novel a mere murder mystery and diminish the importance of the characters' journeys in the wake of Susie's death.

Although Mr. Harvey is haphazardly killed when an icicle hits him in the head and knocks him into a ditch, only Susie and the reader know this; none of the living characters receive any satisfaction from it.

In fact, Harvey never suffers, is never punished, and never has to answer for what he has done to Susie and many other girls. When asked by an interviewer why she doesn't make it a point of her story that Harvey is caught, Sebold says, "Catching a murderer or criminal can help, but there are so many books that make that the point of the story that in books that's the easy way out, as opposed to, 'what are the characters feeling? What's their real journey?'" (Recorded Books, 2002). Sebold does not want to write the common murder case story but wants to focus on in-depth descriptions of her characters' struggles to move on in the wake of Susie's death. With a few exciting exceptions, Sebold chooses to focus on the characters' individual experiences rather than catching and punishing Harvey.

Yes, Susie possesses Ruth's body...