In today’s lesson we will analyse: Plot Characterisation Setting Theme - Grief Theme - Isolation
Homework What is Susie’s heaven comprised of? What does this tell us about her? What is the Inbetween? What clues show it is important?
Plot Briefly discuss the events of Chapter Two with your partner. Check that your summary notes include all relevant information.
Characterisation - Susie Sebold initially portrays Susie as a typical American teenager. Read page 16-17 “When I got to Fairfax High…. These were my dreams on Earth.” Briefly write a few sentences explaining why this particular passage makes us feel sympathetic towards Susie.
Characterisation: Susie “Eventually I began to desire more. What I found strange was how much I desired to know what I had not known on Earth. I wanted to be allowed to grow up.” “”People grow up by living,” I said to Franny. “I want to live.” “I could not have what I wanted most: Mr Harvey dead and me living.”
Characterisation: Susie The fact that Susie cannot have what she wants suggests that Susie’s adjustment to death will be a difficult one. Note the capitalisation of “Earth” while “heaven” is always lower case. This suggests where her heart really lies.
Characterisation:Lindsey Susie’s sister. Her name never changes. It is resolute, tough and constant - just like Lindsey. This is shown in the way she she faces Susie’s death with a silent, stalwart wall of grief as she does not let herself cry and tries to keep the grief away by doing sit-ups until she is exhausted. Her name cannot be shortened or changed - neither can the events that have taken place in her life. She must simply learn to live with them.
Characterisation:Jack Salmon Susie’s father. His undying love and devotion for Susie is examined by both Susie and the reader throughout the novel.
Characterisation: Abigail Salmon Susie’s mother. She cannot face Susie’s death and yearns for a different life than the one she has been dealt. Throughout the novel she undergoes an identity crisis as Susie’s death raises questions about Abigail’s identity. Her name changes a number of times to reflect this - “mom” “Abigail”
Characterisation: Franny Susie’s counsellor. Her job is to help Susie and her roommate Holly adjust to death and to help their souls find release from Earth. Franny is the same age as their mothers as this is something that they both want - their mothers.
Setting: Heaven Susie learns that everyone’s heaven is different. Heaven is obviously, in this novel, what each person dreams. Remember the capitalisation of “Earth” compared to lowercase “heaven.” Looks like her school playground with a good set of swings. Everything that she has ever wanted appears as soon as she thinks of it - apart from what she wants most: to be back with the people she loved on Earth.
Theme: Grief The process of grief and the long road to acceptance and letting go are the main themes of the novel. Through Susie’s narration, Sebold gives us a bird’s eye view of a grieving family over a number of years. Susie is used to convey that even a dead person might need to grow up and accept death. Sebold focuses more on the aftermath and effects of Susie’s death rather than on the murder itself.
Theme: Grief Throughout the novel Susie watches her family move through the five stages of grief: denial anger bargaining depression acceptance
Theme: Grief The family ’ s mantra, “ Nothing is ever certain ” is a reflection of the first step of the process of grief: shock and denial. Chapter Two shows shock and denial. The reality of Susie ’ s death hasn ’ t really hit home yet. The family is stunned and bewildered. It ’ s important to note that they react in different ways to her death.
Theme: Grief When Detective Fenerman shows the family the hat and tells them about the body part, they enter the second stage which is anger. Abigail wails. Jack sobs. Lindsey “toughens” so she won’t break.
Theme: Grief Buckley, who is four, doesn’t understand what “gone” means. He draws a picture in which a thick blue line separates the Air from the ground. This is the “Inbetween” - perhaps what we refer to as purgatory. Susie wants the picture to be a real place. This is because she too wants an escape from the reality of death.
Theme: Grief Purgatory: place or condition of temporary punishment meant to cleanse those destined for heaven but not quite ready for it. In purgatory one is purged of their imperfections.
Theme: Isolation Susie is in heaven alone and has not yet been reunited with other family members who have died. Ruth and Ray are both isolated from those around them. Ray will always be tainted by the initial suspicions of the police. Jack and Abigal are isolated from each other by Susie’s death, “My mother and father ended up standing in the same room downstairs. They had come in from opposite doorways.” (pg 29) The last paper Susie writes for school is “The Ostracised: One Man Alone”