Writers often comment on the values of a society by using characters who are alienated because of their race, gender, class or beliefs. Identify such a character in a novel you have studied and discuss how that character’s alienation sheds light on the strengths and/or weaknesses of his / her society.
I know some of you are going to use the question above so in this post I am going to discuss some of the ways that alienation is shown in The Lovely Bones.
What does alienate mean? Here are some ideas:
- to estrange or make unfriendly
- to be withdrawn or detached from society
- to cause affection to be transferred
In the novel alienation is shown in various forms and we can see it can have many causes. Chapters 18 and 19 are good ones to look at as in these sections we see characters who experience this type of loneliness under different circumstances and to different degrees.
One character that exemplifies alienation is Ruth as even though she lives in a large city she remains a solitary person. She lives alone and she wanders the streets to observe people. She writes down her observations and she often concentrates on the cornfield and her father. Ruth seems to be working on behalf of those who have died violent deaths and she has a vision of one of Harvey’s victims. Ruth is alienated because she is withdrawn from society.
The sinkhole brings to mind alienation as that is where Susie’s dismembered body lies alone.
Buckley is alienated when he uses his fort as a shed for a garden that he looks after by himself. He scatters seeds and plants randomly because none of the adults take much of an interest in what he is doing. Buckley feels like he doesn’t have parents as Abigail has left and Jack is focused on Susie. He becomes detached as his family isn’t there for him. Jack alienates himself from Buckley when he tells him off for wanting to use Susie’s clothes to tie up his plants. Buckley feels totally rejected. He thinks Jack loves his dead daughter more than his living children. Things become so stressful that Jack has a heart attack which further estranges him from Buckley. Susie thinks Jack might die and then he could be with her forever but it is her grandfather who appears and dances with her. Buckley needs Jack on Earth.
Even though Abigail returns to her family to be by Jack’s side she doesn’t bring bags. She seems to want to withdraw and for her family to transfer their affections, to be estranged from them. Lindsay hates Abigail for her affair and Buckley is slow to show any affection for his mother because she abandoned them. Lindsay finds it very hard to forgive her. Interestingly when Jack sees his family together he acts as if nothing had happened despite being betrayed and abandoned by Abigail.