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One of the techniques that is used by Sebold in this very different tale is that of combining foreshadowing and flashback. On the whole, the narrative follows a traditional plot structure, however, the events are not strictly chronological. The novel begins with the murder of Susie, but in order for the reader to understand everything that happens next, they have to be informed about certain background events, which are presented through the use of flashback, which allows Susie to return to when she was alive before the beginning of the story. For example, in Chapter Three, she takes the reader back to her eleventh birthday:
On the morning of my eleventh birthday I had woken up very early. No one else was up, or so I thought. I crept downstairs and looked into the dining room, where I assumed my presents would be. But there was nothing there.
This flashback allows Sebold to introduce the camera into the narrative, which of course becomes important as later events demonstrate.
In addition, there are elements of foreshadowing. For example, in Chapter 1, Susie tells the reader that she died and also indicates that a dog brought her elbow home. However, her parents are only actually told about this weeks later. Foreshadowing and flashbacks are used to create interest and tension.
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