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

The Lovely Bones

by Alice Sebold
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How does the unique portrayal of death in The Lovely Bones remove that fear of death people have?

The unique portrayal of death in The Lovely Bones removes the fear of death that people have by presenting readers with the idea of a personalized heaven. According to Sebold's vision, heaven manifests differently for each person. It is individualized to meet the specific, personal desires of each person. Sebold's heaven also allows the deceased to watch over Earth and the people living on it.

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In her novel The Lovely Bones, Alice Sebold presents us with a unique vision of the afterlife through the descriptions of narrator and protagonist, Susie Salmon.

Susie is fourteen years old when she is brutally raped and murdered by her neighbor, George Harvey. After she dies, Susie's spirit travels to her own personal version of heaven, from which she watches over her family and friends.

Unlike traditional descriptions of heaven, Susie's heaven is a manifestation of her own desires. She later learns that heaven is not the same for everyone and each person's version of heaven is a manifestation of his/her dreams and hopes.

In Susie's version of heaven, there are other teenage girls, fashion magazines, and her favorite snacks.

Sebold's portrayal of heaven differs from traditional depictions of heaven in that it is personalized and constantly evolving. Each person's version of heaven is filled with the things that make that person happy. These personalized heavens change to accommodate the changing feelings and desires of the people who inhabit them.

In her version of heaven, Susie is able to watch the happenings on Earth. She is able to watch over her family and still be part of their lives in a sense. At one point in the novel, Susie is even able to temporarily switch bodies with Ruth and spend time with Ray before having to return to heaven.

Sebold's unique vision of the afterlife removes fear of death by suggesting that the deceased can still watch over their loved ones while being able to basically design their own personalized versions of heaven, filled with whatever makes them happy. Sebold's vision of heaven is an accommodating one in which heaven is not only specific to the individual, but also changes to meet the changing desires of its inhabitant. People are less likely to fear death if they believe they will enjoy a personalized version of heaven that allows them to watch over their loved ones and still be part of their lives, even if they have a limited ability to communicate with the living.

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