The Lovely Bones Topics for Further Study
by Alice Sebold

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Topics for Further Study

(Literary Newsmakers for Students)

  • Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, M.D., developed the five-stage grief model, which outlines and defines the stages that a grieving person goes through while healing. Research this model, list and define the five terms, then write an essay explaining how Jack Salmon, Abigail Salmon, and Susie Salmon in Alice Sebold's The Lovely Bones progress through each stage.
  • What would have happened if Susie were never killed by Mr. Harvey? Knowing what you do about her desires, interests, and goals, do you think Susie's life would have turned out more like Abigail's or Lindsey's? Would Susie have married Ray, or lived a bohemian life in the city like Ruth? Write a short biography of Susie's life, including her family, that addresses who Susie might have been if she had not been murdered at age fourteen.
  • Using some historical research on the Women's Movement in the 1970s, explain how Abigail Salmon, Lindsey Salmon, Ruth Connors, and Ruana Singh in Sebold's The Lovely Bones exemplify elements of that movement. In other words, what aspect of the Women's Movement does each of these women illustrate? Write an essay incorporating your research into your explanation.
  • One can easily read Sebold's The Lovely Bones as a coming-of-age story. Identify which characters "come of age" and why. What does the novel offer as the rites of passage for growing up? Do these rites seem bound by the time frame of the novel? In an essay, compare the rites and rituals of adolescence presented in The Lovely Bones with those of today's teenagers. Try to account for any differences by addressing relevant cultural, political, or social issues.