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In this term paper I will compare two books that I really liked: “The lovely bones” and “The liars’ club”. I decided to write about them, because I believe that both stories are very similar and very well written. I also think that the authors of these books are admirable women who have struggled with life, society and family. For this reason, I consider important to compare the two books. I will start to write about “the lovely bones”. At the beginning, I did not wan to finish reading the book, because it is a hard story that talks about the raping of a little girl. Therefore, I felt so angry and frustrating. But then I understood that I had to continue reading the book if I wanted to know the meaning of it.
The point of view of the lovely bones is first person and it is narrated by Susie Salmon, the girl that was horribly raped and murdered by her neighbor. The entire story is about the grief that the Salmon family is experimenting after Susie’s death. However, there was a member of the family who suffered the most: Susie’s father, Jack Salmon. This man loved her daughter so much that when he knew that she was killed, life became a hell for him. As a result, his marriage was very affected and his wife cheated on him. I found a quote that explains the relationship between Susie and her father:
“His own father had taught him how to build ships in bottles. They were something my mother, sister, and brother couldn’t care less about. It was something I adored. The den was full of them. He would call me in whenever he was ready” (Sebold, Alice p, 45)
Unlike her siblings, Susie enjoyed her father’s hobby. This man loved to build ships in bottles, because his father taught him how to do them. So, he shared this hobby with their children, but the only one who liked and care about it was Susie because she had a very strong relationship with her father. Therefore, when she passed away, his father Jack wanted to die as well.
On the other hand, Mary Karr in her book “The liars’ club” showed that her relationship with her father was very special and unique. For example, she mentioned that he used to be a very lovely father with her and her sister and that even though he was many years in the war, when he came back home he always wanted to spend time with his family. However, Mary’s father did not have a good relationship with the rest of the family, because his mother in law did not like him and as a result, his marriage was falling apart. This quote explains the situation he was living:
“Mother threatened divorce a lot of times, and Daddy’s response to it was usually a kind of patient eye-rolling. He never spoke of divorce as a n option. If I asked him worried questions about a particularly nasty fight, he’d just say I shouldn’t talk bad about my mother, as if even suggesting they might split up insulted her somehow” (Karr, Mary pa, 35)
As we can see, Mary’s father did not want to get divorce maybe because he wanted to be with her two children. Moreover, he said to Mary that even though he had conflicts with his wife, she had to love her mother no matter what. I think this man showed that he was a good husband and a good father since he always asked Mary to respect her mother. This case is very similar to the conflict that Susie’s parents had in the book “The lovely bones”. As we know, when Susie died, all the family struggled with the fact that she was not longer with them. Each of them faced Susie’s death differently. The father, for example, was obsessed to find the killer, the sister Lindsay did not want to talk about it, the brother was very innocent to realize that her sister had passed away and the mother decided to cheat on her husband to “relieve the pain”. I said before that Susie’s father and Mary’s were similar because both men were married with women that, from my point of view, did not care about their children. Mary’s mother cared only about herself. She just wanted to have fun and get another husband that is why she went on a trip with his Latin-American boyfriend and left her children. Susie’s mother did the same thing when she decided to move to another state in order to be alone and deal with her daughter’s death.
THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN SIBLINGS
I believe that in the two books that I decided to compare, the relationship between siblings is one of the most important topics. In this part of my term paper, I will compare Susie’s relationship with her brother and sister and Mary Karr relationship with her sister Lecia.
Susie Salmon had one brother called Buckley and one sister called Lindsay. The tree of them were very closed and cared very much about each other. There is a quote on the book “The lovely bones “where Susie says that once she saved her brother life.
“a three-year-old Buckley had swallowed it. Buckley was choking, his body bucking, and I carried him with Nate trailing into the garage, where my father’s precious Mustang sat. I put Buckley in the back and grabbed and grabbed the keys from the unused terra-cotta pots where my father hid them. I sped all the way to the hospital. “if the hadn’t been there”, the doctor later told my mother “you would have lost your little boy” (Sebold, Alice p, 93,94)
As the quote explains, Susie saved her brother because she loved him very much. She also had the courage to do it since many people would not dare to do what Susie did. Susie loved Buckley so much that she did not think about anything but to safe her little brother. Later in the book, this strong connection is demonstrated when in one of the chapters, Buckley said to his dad that Susie touched his cheek and that he felt that Susie was seeing them from heaven.
Susie also got along well with her sister Lindsay. Both girls enjoyed being together, not only because they were sister but also because they were the same age. As a result, when Lindsay knew that her sister was dead, she did not want to talk about this tragic event to anybody. For me, it is very understandable the way that Lindsay felt. Some people like her deal with death like by being quite and reserved. Some others share their feelings in order to release their pain. But what really cares is to remember the people who we love.
Now, the author of “The liars’ club” also had a good relationship with her sister Lecia. These two girls suffered a lot not only because they had many problems in their home, but also because they have an alcoholic mother and a hysterical grandmother. I found a quote that explains how Mary Karr felt strong because of her sister:
“Lecia and I both behaved like savages at any opportunity. When she was only twelve, Lecia could beat the dogshit out of any neighbor boy up to the age of fifteen. For my part, I can remember standing behind the drainage ditch in our yard cussing Carol Sharp for bloodying my nose” (Karr, Mary pa, 40)
In this quote, Mary Karr explains that she used to play pranks with her sister and that thought she had problems in home, she tried to forget them by playing with her Lecia. From my point of view, it is very difficult to live you life normally when you know that your family is hurting each other. For this reason, I admired Mary Karr very much, because she tried to forget all her problems. Unfortunately, when you are a child, all these family conflicts affect you and the only thing that you can do about it is to move on with your life just as Mary Karr did. On the other hand, I also believe that she was conscious about her family problems, but she could not do anything about it. I can not imagine what it feels like to live with a family that is full of traumas and that does not care about you. For example, Mary Karr’s grand mother was a bitter woman who did not love their grand children and who lived in the past. That is why Mary Karr did not suffer when her grand mother passed away. Instead, she felt relieved and free.
Susie Salmon also had a special grand mother, but unlike Mary’s she was a good person who loved their grand children very much. This woman was an alcoholic but she took cared of their grand children while her daughter Abigail decided to move to another state. These two women were so different, but as any human being has flaws. Now, in the next pages of my paper I will talk about the role of the mothers in the two books “The lovely bones” and “The liars’ club”
THE ROLE OF A MOTHER IN A FAMILY
It is well known that a mother represents many important things in a family. She is the one who takes care of her children, because she has a protective instinct that a father does not have. For this reason, it is unbelievable for me to understand why Susie’s mother abandoned their children in order to forget her dead daughter. I can understand that it is very painful to lose your daughter, but by abandoning your other children you are not going to resolve anything. Now, I also comprehend that as human beings we need to have our space, because is our right. But when you have a family like Susie’s mother you also have to think about them.
Another thing that also surprised me was that Susie’s mother cheated on her husband. Even now I can not understand what she did. There is a very good quote that explains Abigail’s attitude according to Susie’s point of view:
“Len kissed her forehead hard and closed his eyes. She took his hand and placed it on her breast. She whispered in his ear. I knew what was happening. Her rage, her loss, her despair. The whole life lost tumbling out in an arc on that roof, clogging up her being. She needed Len to drive the dead daughter out” (Sebold, Alice p, 152)
This woman desired to forget her daughter’s death by cheating on her husband. She thought that her pain was going to disappear if she transferred all his sorrow in another person, but I think that is not the correct way to resolve our problems. She could have gone to a therapist or talking to her husband about Susie’s death. Infidelity is something that I can not comprehend.
Unfortunately, Abigail’s infidelity did not bring Susie back. Instead, this deception caused Abigail more pain and more remorse to her life. At the end of the book, we know that Abigail returned with her family because Jack had a heart attack, but we never knew if she stayed again with them or if she decided to be brave enough in order to tell her husband that she had cheated on him with Len Fenerman.
In the book “The liars’ club” Mary Karr explained that her mother was always worried about herself, just exactly like Susie’s mother. You might think that I am judging these women very hard, but I just can not understand why they behaved that way with their children. I mean, when you decide to have children is because you know that you have to take care of them, yet there are some mothers that do the opposite thing.
Mary Karr’s mother for example, tried to be a good mother, but I feel that she had a very hard background that did not allow her to live her life peacefully. Even Mary Karr recognized that when she finished her book, it was very hard for her mother to read it. At the same time, Mary said that she was very supportive when the book was done. Another thing that it was hard to assimilate for Mary and her sister Lecia was live with their stepfather Hector. He constantly had arguments with Mary’s mother and they did not have a good relationship. There is a quote that explains this situation:
“Other nights were occupied with Mother and Hector fighting. The litany of his innate low-lifedness got seared into skull during this time. Hector was a pussy, was her main gripe. Also, he lacked gainful employment, which meant Mother accused him of sponging off her all the time”.
As this quote explains, Mary’s stepfather did not support his wife economically. Therefore, Mary’s mother argued with him and had many conflicts. Plus, he was an alcoholic who was worried more about drinking than about taking care of his wife, his house and his stepdaughters. When I think about the problems that Mary had to deal with, I really felt sorry for her. She was only a child when her parents got divorce and when he had to accept a new father figure. I can see Mary’s life like a quest. During her childhood, she lived so many bad things that made her stronger, but at the same time made her more vulnerable.
In order to conclude this term paper in the next to pages, I will talk about the most difficult topic in both books: raping. The reason why I decided to write about it at the end, was because I want to reflect about how raping can change your life.
TWO GIRLS WHO LOST THEIR INNOCENCE
The books that I decided to compare in this term paper talk about a very hard topic: raping. In the lovely bones, the main character Susie Salmon was horribly raped and killed bi her neighbor Mr. Harvey. This story is fiction, but the author of it was raped in real life. For that reason, she wrote this book.
As we know, Susie Salmon was a fourteen year old girl who had a normal life and who wanted to fell in love for the first time. Unfortunately, all of her dreams were destroyed by a disgusting and despicable man named Mr. Harvey. He took away Susie’s innocence when he raped her. After this, he decided to kill her so she could not accuse him of anything. But Susie was not dead in a one hundred percent, because her spirit went to heaven. She saw her family and her killer from there. She saw all the pain that Mr. Harvey had caused after he killed her. But she also saw that her family got over her death and moved on. Here is a quote in which Susie explains her raping:
“Mr. Harvey made me lie still underneath him and listen to the beating of his heart and the beating of mine. How mine skipped like a rabbit, and how thudded, a hammer against cloth. We lay there with our bodies touching, and, as I shook, a powerful knowledge took hold. He had done this thing to me and I had lived”. (Sebold, Alice p, 14)
The only thing that I can say about this quote is that I can not imagine what this girl felt in that moment. For me, it is very difficult to understand how these criminals can exist. I mean, this man took advantage of a child who was not big or strong enough to defend herself. Killing a person is horrible, but killing a kid who is weak and innocent is the most despicable act in the world. From my point of view, Mr. Harvey was a scum of the earth who did not deserve to be alive, because she also killed other children. All of them were girls that had a life, dreams and hopes for the future. But this killer ruined their lives and left sorrow in their families.
Finally, in the book “The Liars’ club” Mary Karr narrates that she was raped, when she was a little girl. This event changed her life and her perspective about the world. The quote says:
“He pulled me off my shorts and underwear and threw them in the corner in a ball, over where I knew there could be spiders. He pushed down his pants and put my hand on his thing, which was unlike any of the boys’ joke about hot dogs and garden hoses. It was hard as wood and felt big around and felt big around as my arm. He wrapped both my hands around it, and showed me how to slide them up and down” (Karr, Mary p, 66)
When I read this fragment of the book, I really felt so angry and frustrated. I can to imagine the desperation that Mary Karr experimented. She as Alice Sebold experienced how it felt to be raped and humiliated by a man. But at the same time this horrible experience made them successful and brave. So, my conclusion for this term paper is the following: every person forms his character based on his personal experiences. As a consequence, in life we can follow two paths: the one that is related with hate, vengeance and sadness and the one that is connected with love, success and hopes. I believe that the authors of the books that I compared follow the second path, because they decided to heal their emotional wounds in order to move on. That is a lesson that all human beings should learn.
Nobody said that life is easy. Nobody said that life is pink color. However, god made us strong to achieve any objective that we have. He made us intelligent to understand that life is something that id full of bad and good moments. For this reason, these two authors, Alice Sebold and Mari Karr succeed when they decided to tell their stories to the world. They had a lot of pain in their lives, but they also decided to cure their traumas to move on and have a good life.
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