Suburban Horror

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Pedophiles have always been a source of anxiety for people. Since the last two decades of the twentieth century, media and literature in America has started to focus on the phobia over the increase in violence and sexual abuse committed by pedophiles. What intensifies societal anxiety is not only this increase in the number of crimes, but also that perpetrators are clever enough to cover for their offenses and to evade the law. Thus, they remain at large and represent a threat to many individuals and families. Contemporary novelists, like Alice Sebold, are careful not to exclude this issue from their fictional material. This study focuses on Alice Sebold’s “The Lovely Bones” as an example of this public anxiety. It explores the traumatic experience of Susie Salmon, one of George Harvey’s (the pedophilic character in the text) victims and the consequences of his violent act on the victim’s family. It is concluded that Harvey develops anti-social and criminal tendencies as a consequence of abuse and degradation, both familial and social, he had experienced in childhood. The novel, the research concludes, is the author’s psychological guide to victims of trauma, written out of her experience as a victim of physical abuse.