illustration of Susie in the clouds with her charm bracelet above her head

The Lovely Bones

by Alice Sebold
Start Free Trial

After the grandmother arrives in The Lovely Bones, she has an immediate impact on the energy in the house and particularly on Lindsay; How did she accomplish this? 

The grandmother has an immediate impact on the energy of the family's house in The Lovely Bones by becoming a positive force and working the family through the stages of grief. She helps Lindsay understand her new-found responsibilities and the reactions of everyone around her after the loss of Susie.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Her grandmother’s visit is both disruptive and restorative for Lindsey. Prior to her coming, Lindsey had struggled with her own grief as she moved out of the denial stage. She had also done her best to substitute for her largely incapacitated mother, Abigail, in nurturing her little brother, Buckley. This quasi-maternal role was further complicated because Susie had filled much of that gap when she was alive. Because of Grandma Lynn’s larger-than-life personality, Lindsey had thought of her previous visits as entertaining interludes. Abigail is blocked from accepting her mother’s support, as she has already separated herself emotionally from her husband and children, including through having an affair. Once Abigail physically takes leave as well, Lindsey’s unmediated relationship with Lynn is stressful but ultimately a source of security.

Grandma Lynn’s arrival comes at a crucial point. It had been difficult for the family to accept that Susie was dead because her body had not been recovered, but finally they hold a memorial service. Ostensibly attending the service is the occasion prompting Lynn’s visit, but she recognizes the deep needs in the whole family. Her presence is positive because she applies herself to helping her grandchildren with their grief and in coping with their parents’ reactions. Lynn recognizes how difficult it is for Lindsey to become the oldest in such a terrible way, and she helps her with both specific difficult moments—such as what to wear to the service—and in interpreting Jack’s and Abigail’s moods and actions.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team