Study Guide

The Lovely Bones Violence

By Alice Sebold

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The Lovely Bones makes no bones about it – it's a very violent book. It begins with Susie's brutal rape and murder by George Harvey and looks at his other crimes. This violence is also a violence against Susie's family, which nearly breaks apart under the strain of her death. The Lovely Bones stays focused on violence against women and girls, particularly those whose lives are taken by violent attackers.

Questions About Violence

  1. Does the novel offer any explanations for the violence against women it depicts?
  2. The the novel offer any clear explanations for why Harvey is the way he is?
  3. Does the novel desensitize or resensitize readers to violence?
  4. Is violence ever used positively in the novel? Is there even such a thing as positive violence?
  5. What are some of the scenes that stand in counterpoint to extreme violence depicted?
  6. Is there a connection between the breast-less, vagina-less anatomy model in Ruth's art class and the sexual violence in the novel? Why or why not?

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