The Lovely Bones: Alarm Clock

Alarm, n.

1. A message or news of approaching hostility.
2. The apparatus or mechanism which sounds the alarm.
3. A warning sound of any kind to give notice of danger.
4. A warning of danger of any kind; especially one given in such a way as to startle or arouse the unwary.
5. A call to arms; a signal calling upon men to arm.


The clock is one of the oldest human inventions, meeting the need to consistently measure intervals of time shorter than the natural units: the day, the lunar month, and the year. Devices operating on several different physical processes [e.g., sun dial, water clock] have been used over the millennia, culminating in the clocks of today.

The purpose of a clock is not always to display the time. It may also be used to control a device according to time, e.g., an alarm clock, a VCR, or a time bomb (see: counter). However, in this context, it is more appropriate to refer to it as a timer or trigger mechanism rather than strictly as a clock.

The Lovely Bones (The Script)

From the The Guardian:

Int. Mr Harvey’s House – Night

ANGLE ON: CAMERA DRIFTS past the FRONT of a MOONLIT HOUSE – neat and tidy, with FLOWERS PAINTED on the WALLS. We think it’s real at first, but soon REALISE that we’re looking at a model … an intricately constructed DOLLHOUSE.

On the soundtrack: The Great Pretender by Brian Eno.

As the CAMERA rises above the roof of the DOLLHOUSE, we see the hunched FIGURE OF A MAN; a shadowy giant, grotesquely out of proportion with his small scale surroundings, working intently with plywood and glue.

There are 4 or 5 more DOLLHOUSES in various states of completion lined up in a row on the LIVING ROOM FLOOR.

An ALARM CLOCK RINGS! Through a window of the DOLLHOUSE, we watch the MAN rise – as if compelled by the ALARM – to pull the blinds shut …

CLOSE ON: A PAINT BRUSH painting more FLOWERS on the WEATHERBOARD WALL but these ones are CLUMSY and CRUDE LOOKING. There is a faint but continuous TREMOR in the hand that is holding the BRUSH.

ANOTHER ALARM RINGS! The MAN rises, taking four paces to the left, and without looking – flicks off the LIGHTS.

The Lovely Bones (The Novel)

He set several clocks. One to tell him to open the blinds, one when to close them. In conjunction with these alarms, he would turn lights on and off throughout the house. When an occasional child happened by to sell chocolate bars for a school competition or inquire whether he would like to subscribe to the Evening Bulletin, he was friendly but businesslike, unremarkable.

He kept things to count, and this counting reassured him. They were simple things. A wedding ring, a letter sealed in an envelope, the heel of a shoe, a pair of glasses, an eraser in the shape of a cartoon character, a small bottle of perfume, a plastic bracelet, my Pennsylvania keystone charm, his mother’s amber pendant. He would take them out at night long after he was certain that no newsboy or neighbor would knock on his door. He would count them like the beads of a rosary. …

When the alarm had gone off to tell him to shut the blinds and then the next alarm, which told him to shut off most of the lights because the suburbs were asleep after that, Mr. Harvey would go down into the basement, where there were no cracks that light could peek through and people could point to, to say he was strange. By the time he killed me he had tired of visiting the crawlspace, but he still liked to hang out in the basement in an easy chair that faced the dark hole beginning halfway up the wall and reaching to the exposed baseboards of his kitchen floor. He would often drift off to sleep there, and there he was asleep when my father passed the green house at around 4:40 a.m. …

What I discovered, when I followed Mr. Harvey’s stare to the crawlspace, were these animals that had gone missing for more than a year. People thought it stopped because the Ellis boy had been sent to military school. When they let their pets loose in the morning, they returned in the evening. This they held as proof. No one could imagine an appetite like the one in the green house. Someone who would spread quicklime on the bodies of cats and dogs, the sooner for him to have nothing left but their bones. By counting the bones and staying away from the sealed letter, the wedding ring, the bottle of perfume, he tried to stay away from what he wanted most – from going upstairs in the dark to sit in the straight chair and look out toward the high school, from imagining the bodies that matched the cheerleaders’ voices, which pulsated in waves on fall days during football games, or from watching the buses from the grammar school unload two houses down. Once he had taken a long look at Lindsey, the lone girl on the boys’ soccer team out running laps in our neighborhood near dark.

What I think was hardest for me to realize was that he had tried each time to stop himself. He had killed animals, taking lesser lives to keep from killing a child. (pp. 128-131)

The Lovely Bones (The Movie)

The murderer works diligently, creating beautiful ornaments for his Dollhouse.
An homage to his ideal of perfection.

But as evening turns to night, he soon grows weary.
Perhaps even a little anxious.

So, when the alarm sounds, he closes the curtains …

… and turns off the lights.

So he can begin making plans for a different kind of construction.
In the basement below, under the cover of dark.

Building a trap for what he believes lays beyond himself.
A possession to be had.
Stolen from another.

When building the hunter’s blind (for Lindsey), he would say:

It’s all about concealment.
The art of concealment. And patience.
It takes a lot of patience, sitting hours on end in the dark.

In the face of others, the man has no shame.
Yet his hiding tells a different story.

~ by mistified on May 18, 2010.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: