"When people looked at Lindsey, even my father and mother, they saw me. Lindsey was not immune. She avoided mirrors. She now took her showers in the dark." (Sebold 59). This signifies that people were not seeing Lindsey as a person, but as part of a broken sisterhood, they perceived the absent sister instead. She fears to confront that absence, to see herself without her sister and to avoid the fear and pain, she avoids the evidence of her own single existence. In Alice Sebold's The Lovely Bones, events before and after Susie's death, may be seen to reflect the experiences of other children who find themselves in a similar situation. In particular, it provides insight as to how children 'left behind' may deal with the trauma of grief, horror and loss.
Before Susie's murder, she and Lindsey were pretty much like any two teenage sisters, with certain resentments and jealousies, but strong in family loyalty and acceptance of each other. Susie is bright, feisty and has a good sense of humor, Lindsey is gifted and takes herself rather seriously. Susie explains their differences when she says "She locked herself in her bedroom and read big books. When I read, Are You There God It's Me, Margaret, she read Camus's Resistance, Rebellion and Death." (Sebold 32) The natural envy of the younger sister is shown when Lindsey finds herself in Susie's closet: "Lindsey had always wanted the clothes I owned first-run but had gotten them all as hand-me-downs." (Sebold 106). Every younger sister in the world would recognize that feeling, and sadly, if similar circumstances of loss pertained, some might share in the "guilt and glee" (Sebold 106), felt with the realization that everything was now hers alone. Whatever their differences, sisters love and care for each other, and the constant reminder of loss is a sadness which never goes. For Lindsey, there is much more to cope with, she has almost a greater responsibility than that of any other family member. This forces her to continually change and adapt, to acknowledge she has not just lost Susie, but her own childhood. She thus must develop ways to handle life differently, for as long as it takes to become whole again.
Her immediate response can be appreciated as a major defense mechanism many would employ. She must develop a hard, impenetrable shell, in public at any rate, and build up strength, both mental and physical. "She sat in her room....and worked on hardening herself...make yourself small and like a stone.." (Sebold 29). For Lindsey this is necessary to protect her from the pain and horror of this particular death, and the allusion to 'stone' suggests she believes in the need for a hard inner core. Other strategies included looking through people, a refusal to appear weak, avoidance of those who might breach her defenses, and those she believed to be talking about her and the murder aspects of her sister's death. These beliefs hold some truth, people's perceptions do change, and the dead define the living, robbing them of their individuality, raising expectations of