Essential Quotes by Character: Susie Salmon
Essential Passage 1: Chapter 1
My name is Salmon, like the fish; first name, Susie. I was fourteen when I was murdered on December 6, 1973. In newspaper photos of missing girls from the seventies, most looked like me: white girls with mousy brown hair. This was before kids of all races and genders started appearing on milk cartons or in the daily mail. It was still back when people believed things like that didn’t happen.
In the opening paragraph of the novel, Susie Salmon introduces herself. She reveals that she was murdered at the age of fourteen in the early 1970s, a time of relative innocence. She is a typical white girl with nondescript brown hair—nothing out of the ordinary. Susie's disappearance and murder occurred before the mass advertisement of missing children whose pictures and physical descriptions, dates of birth and abduction, and other essential details appeared on the sides of milk cartons and flyers delivered in the mail. In Susie's era, such matters were left to police without involving the entire community through the media. It was a time of pretended innocence. Many people ignored the possibility of such evil. The world was generally considered a safe place for children. As Susie will attest, however, it was far from safe.
Essential Passage 2: Chapter 6
I grew to love Ruth on those mornings, feeling that in some way we could never explain on our opposite sides of the Inbetween, we were born to keep each other company. Odd girls who had found each other in the strangest way—in the shiver she had felt when I passed.
As Susie leaves her body, bound for heaven, she accidentally brushes against Ruth, a girl from her school but not one of her friends. Ruth had been something of an outsider, living on the margins. Yet as soon as Susie touches her, Ruth becomes fascinated. To Ruth, Susie had simply been “the girl from school who was murdered” and someone with whom she had formed a vague acquaintanceship. She writes poetry about Susie and draws pictures of scenes and images representative of Susie. She haunts the cornfield where Susie was murdered. From heaven, Susie begins to focus on Ruth and on her life at school and at home. She begins to live her life from Ruth’s point of view, especially later in Ruth’s relationship with Ray Singh, Susie’s almost-boyfriend before her death. It is Susie who draws Ruth out of her home life and helps the girl find companionship with Ray. Their relationship will help Ruth make some sense of the strange connection she feels with Susie.
Essential Passage 3: “Bones”
And in a small house five miles away was a man who held my mud-encrusted charm bracelet out to his wife.
“Look what I found at the old industrial park,” he said. “A construction guy said they were bulldozing the whole lot. They’re afraid of more sinkholes like that one that swallowed the cars.”
His wife poured him some water from the sink as he fingered the tiny bike and the ballet shoe, the flower basket and the thimble. He held out the muddy bracelet as she set down his glass.
“This little girl’s grown up by now,” she said.
I wish you all a long and happy life.
Life has moved on without Susie. Her parents are back together, having come to terms with her loss. Buckley has grown up, forgiving his mother for having left them for eight years. Lindsey and Samuel are married with a daughter whom they have named Abigail Suzanne, after Lindsey’s mother and murdered sister. Susie remains in heaven and still occasionally checks in on her family. They continue to think of her and miss her. But life goes on, even in heaven. A man finds Susie’s charm bracelet that she had been wearing when she was murdered. He shows it to his wife who muses that the owner of the bracelet has grown up. She does not know that the owner of the bracelet had died long ago. Susie, however, says that she is almost grown up, but not quite. In farewell, she wishes all, family and...
(The entire section is 2,814 words.)