How might a dead person feel?
The opening chapter of the novel tells us:'My name was Salmon, like the fish; first name, Susie. I was fourteen when I was murdered on December 6, 1973.'
No one knows how a person would feel having been murdered. Scientific understanding establishes that a dead person has no capacity to feel emotions or physical sensations. The premise of The Lovely Bones, however, turns our understanding of life and death on its head by imaginatively exploring what such a murdered person might think and feel about their ordeal.
When someone dies, whatever the circumstances, the bereaved are left behind to deal with the grief.
- What emotions do you think bereaved people may experience having lost someone they care about? Make a list of these of these emotions.
- Imagine there is definitely an afterlife. How might a dead person feel if they had been murdered brutally at the age of fourteen? Make a list of these emotions.
- Compare your two lists. Are they similar or different? What points of reference do we use to imagine the life of the dead?
- How does this story challenge conventional representations of the ‘living dead'?