Sine Nomine

〓 Sin Unto Death 〓


Do you believe in karma?

Sin unto death is the performance of a sin that is so vile it guarantees a spiritual or physical (and maybe even both) death.

It’s common knowledge that murder is a terrible sin — something that wouldn’t be easily forgiven without an efficient amount of repentance and regret, in addition to never committing the same act ever again. Mr. Harvey fails to meet the criteria to save his tarnished soul. It’s true that he attempts to quench his need to kill humans by killing lesser beings (such as animals) but that doesn’t change the fact that he keeps on. Presumably, he’s never asked for forgiveness and even if he did, it wouldn’t work as he doesn’t stop his murders anyway.

icicleYou can say that Mr. Harvey had it coming. There’s a sense of foreshadowing in Susie’s earlier statement on how an icicle would be the perfect murder weapon. True enough, that’s exactly how the man dies — caught in the middle of trapping his new object of torture before an icicle moves to cause his death. Finally, his previous sins had caught up to him and gave him a taste of his own medicine. Although his death isn’t as brutal and disturbing as how he’s murdered those other girls, it still stands that he is killed unaware and, hopefully, is sent straight to burn in hell.

According to Hamlet, those who die without seeking forgiveness has nothing but hell to welcome their souls in the after-life. However, after Sebold’s alteration of the supposedly simple idea of heaven, it remains suspicious as to how she would have dealt with Mr. Harvey’s soul had she went into detail about it. Unlike Susie and the other murdered girls, the murderer’s spirit would certainly not be welcome in the in between.

Maybe Sebold doesn’t even have an alternative to hell. Maybe it really is the only place where a soul like Mr. Harvey’s can spend eternal life in.


〓 Third Eye 〓

It is a term that many use to describe a person’s ability to see the supernatural.

Ruth Connors, an important supporting character in The Lovely Bones is one of these people.

“That strange otherworldly girl who so easily accepted the presence of the dead among the living.”


The word Ruth translates to “a feeling of pity, distress, or grief.” With Synonyms “pity, compassion, mercy, sympathy, and remorse” to add to that. This girl is every bit each meaning. Ruth plays a big part in the novel, with her being Susie’s contact with the human world (especially with Ray Singh). She displays compassion, helping Susie’s spirit even though their friendship hadn’t developed much during Susie’s time on Earth — she’d merely been that weird, unpopular girl at school.

As one of the few who are able to see Susie’s spirit (and the one who sees her most), she serves as a friend who gains Susie’s trust even after her death. However, Ruth is not happy with how she lives. She sees the earth as more bad than good and may possibly envy Susie in leaving for the after-life.

“Well, as my dad would say, it means she’s out of this shithole.”

I don’t blame her. According to accounts from religious believers who claim to have the third eye, it is not the most pleasant gift to grow up with — rather, it would seem more like a curse.

Some perks of having a third eye include:

  • seeing nice ghosts
  • seeing bad ghosts
  • seeing bloody ghosts
  • knowing their stories
  • needing to help them
  • seeing ghosts

Have I made my point yet? Being able to see what is supposedly invisible is terrifying. Ruth must be one strong girl in able to put up with that. The fact that she becomes obsess with how Susie and the other murdered girls die also complicates things and further distorts her view on the good. While Susie wants back to Earth, Ruth would rather take her place.

〓 The Ghost is Back 〓

liI’ve found more connections with Hamlet and The Lovely Bones than I expected, particularly for the similar theme of death and the after life. However, different from the rather passive ghost in Hamlet (passive other than that angry, bellowing speech about his death), Susie Salmon’s ghost is more productive and, spoiler

— she even manages to kill her murderer in the end.

Although the action being performed by the spirit herself isn’t set in words, it is heavily implied. And personally, I strongly believe that she has something to do with it. Especially with the way he was murdered.

It’s funny how a teenage girl manages to extract her own revenge as a spirit while King Hamlet’s ghost had no power to do the same.

Susie’s ghost is present for the whole novel. After all, she’s the narrator. It gives the reader an insight of what the after-life could be. Just like Hamlet’s ghost, she is seen only by few. It all seemed normal in the beginning and towards the middle, with the ghost only floating around watching everyone below her. However, it got kind of weird near the end.

Comparing her ghost to Hamlet’s I would say that Shakespeare’s portrayal of ghosts are more believable. Also, the fact that the ghost in Hamlet is only a ghost because they are restricted from heaven makes much more sense. Susie, who has access to the middle heaven somehow got back down to Earth and took over a girl’s body, and that is odd in my perspective. Where is the eternal peace that souls who reside in heaven are supposed to be gifted with? It seems that Susie is stuck in a paradise I wouldn’t want for myself.


〓 The In Between 〓


Previously in Hamlet, Shakespeare writes it so that the soul goes straight into heaven as long as forgiveness is granted before death.

This time in The Lovely Bones, the author made it so that the soul goes into what I’d like to refer to as the middle heaven or the in between.

Susie Salmon, the main character who dies at the beginning of the book is shown to enter into a realm that is no longer Earth, but is not heaven either. In there, she can make the world give her anything she wants. Like that trinket trapped in the middle of the snow globe at the very beginning, Susie is trapped in a perfect world she doesn’t want.

Alice Sebold’s (author of the novel) perception of life after death is very different from Shakespeare’s depiction of the matter. Shakespeare’s follows the beliefs of Judeo-Christianity — a tradition which teaches “that after a person dies, the soul lives on eternally in a place of happiness (heaven or paradise) or torment (hell or purgatory).” Sebold twists it a little by adding the in between, a place where the soul can make whatever and be whoever they want rather than sticking with the fixed idea of heaven or hell.

grLooking at it from a Judeo-Christian’s view, I would say it’s almost pointless. What is the purpose of a middle heaven when the soul can go straight to heaven? It seems so random and odd for souls to be stuck there as they wander back to Earth as intangible beings. It contrasts with a handful of ideas following the Christian belief; the main one being that a soul stuck in between is kept from the peaceful eternal rest that Christians yearn for. Another would be the greed (a sin) involving the fact that the dead can have whatever they want in there. It doesn’t match up.

〓 Parody 〓

While I was browsing through different film versions of Hamlet, I came across this one and thought it was quite funny.

This is South Park’s parody of Hamlet. They use the same Shakespearean language with some of the script modified to order fit their humorous concept.

〓 2B or not 2B 〓

It’s funny how many times this phrase pops up outside the world of Shakespeare. It’s not that one Shakespeare saying that stuck to generation after generation and can practically be used everywhere. Even those who have never read Hamlet knows of it due to its sheer popularity!

To be, or not to be, that is the question

// Act 3, Scene 1

Earlier this afternoon, I was helping out a couple of friends with sketches for art class and guess what? Surprise, surprise, this saying managed to wiggle into conversation. Funnily enough, it had nothing to do with Shakespeare.


When sketching, there are various types of pencils available– HB 2H, 3H, 2B, 4B, etc. And of course that 2B pencil didn’t escape the pun. It was coming, really. While we were rummaging through the pencils, one of them suddenly goes “2B or not 2B, that is the question.”

Thankfully, I wasn’t the only one who laughed at the joke.

The point is, “to be, or not to be” is used everywhere in different variations.

To go or not to go

To read or not to read

To do or not to do

And I’m sure I’m missing a whole lot of other ones. Even Beyonce uses it as an opening line for one of her songs!

Whether Hamlet performs this soliloquy as he decides between life and death out loud, or as a mere questioning of identity, this phrase is used everywhere in the form of decision making. It is unclear, even until now, what really goes on in Hamlet’s mind as he recites this speech, but what is clear is the fact that he has to make a decision. Image

While others are so focused on analyzing what he really means by being or not being, I think it’s purely open to interpretation and the main point is that he is making a vital decision about something. I, for one, don’t think that he’s talking about suicide at all. I’m not sure how to phrase how exactly I interpret it at the moment. Maybe once I finish the whole play, I’ll be able to get a firmer grasp of it.

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〓 Boo 〓

Shakespeare’s obsession with ghosts really amuses me.

Or at least he seems obsessed with it– but we know not seems right? (Ah, the woes of studying Shakespeare)

Well, to be honest I’m not sure whether amusement is the right expression to use but every time ghosts are mentioned in his plays, I can’t help but raise an eyebrow at how ridiculous they appear to me. Then again, it may only appear as ridiculous to me as I didn’t live during his time.


Doom’d for a certain term to walk the night, 
And for the day confin’d to fast in fires, 
Till the foul crimes done in my days of nature 
Are burnt and purg’d away

// Act 1, Scene 5

Apparently, ghosts were thought to be common in the Shakespearean era– it’s all related to the religious belief that one must ask forgiveness for their sins before they die or they end up in purgatory instead of heaven. When you look at it that way, I guess the logic makes sense for the people at that time. Someone like me, however, who lives in the 20th century and has her own religious beliefs finds something like this just a little bit insane.

First of all, the ghost is tangible and tells people (or just Hamlet, really) to commit murder. That’s even more surreal than the ghost even existing. I can’t even begin to explain what other aspects of the ghost bugs me. The words just escape me for some reason but know that such characters definitely take away the connection I feel towards the play. They just seem so unrealistic that my mind refuses to believe that it’s possible to happen in real life.

But since the ghost is apparently a significant part of Hamlet, all I can do is sit here and attempt to understand the message conveyed through the character.

Or maybe I can sit here and scoff.

… but then attempt to comprehend again because of reasons.

〓 Party Time! 〓

Jhumpa Lahiri’s The Namesake focuses on the idea of clashing cultures by a significant amount. One part of the novel describes a party that Ashima has planned out. The guests are many and the place is packed. Gogol shows signs of boredom even with the vast amount of people surrounding him.

What I’ve noticed from immigrant get togethers (as I’m not born in Canada either) is that they like to fill their party with guests– especially those with the same heritage as them (and also lots and lots of homecooked food rather than pizza or takeout that the western people seem so fond of). It’s as if just because two groups share the same background, they are automatically friends. That’s what I noticed speaking from my own personal experience.

While that’s what I’ve gathered from immigrants, the western people (Canadians in my case; Americans in the novel) seem to prefer small gatherings with those they consider friends. An example would be Gogol’s party spent with just his friends. He’s had more fun with his own group more than the many that he shares heritage with. I believe Gogol has been ‘whitewashed’ (or Americanized as the majority likes to call it), preferring western culture over the Indian’s.

So from evidence taken from the book and real life observations, I noticed that the western people prefer to celebrate with small groups of people they already know (even the adults) while immigrants love to make huge parties containing strangers (so long as the stranger knows someone who’s invited and preferably someone of the same heritage as well).

I find it interesting to realize this just now.