The virgin suicides
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The Virgin Suicides . Chapters 1-2. Chapter 1. Narration “We’ve tried to arrange the photographs chronologically, though the passage of so many years has made it difficult” (4-5). Perspective of boys in the neighborhood Their memories- fading and deteriorating

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Chapter 1

Narration

  • “We’ve tried to arrange the photographs chronologically, though the passage of so many years has made it difficult” (4-5).

    • Perspective of boys in the neighborhood

      • Their memories- fading and deteriorating

      • Subjective (boy’s observations) versus objective (interviews and facts)

      • Boys “we” versus the Lisbon sisters “them”

      • Boy’s trying to make sense of the girls and what they did

      • “put them back together”


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Chapter 1

  • Cecilia

    • “…the youngest, only thirteen, had gone first, slitting her wrists like a Stoic… with the yellow eyes of someone possessed and her small body giving off the odor of a mature woman” (3)

    • “She didn’t say a word, but when they parted her hands they found a Virgin Mary she held against her budding chest…” (4).

    • “She looked lie a tiny Cleopatra on the imperial letter” (5).

      • Lost in between childhood and adolescence

      • Seems wise beyond her years

      • Mystical, religious

      • Virgin Mary/ Virgin Suicide


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Chapter 1

  • Environment

    • “…the slate roof had not yet begun to shed its shingles, the porch was still visible above the bushes, and the windows were not yet held together with strips of masking tape” (5).

      • What house was like before

      • Loss and death is reflected in the environment

      • Progressive deterioration of environment parallels the girls’


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Chapter 1

  • Obsession with happiness

    • “Our local newspaper neglected to run an article on the suicide attempt, because the editor, Mr. Baubee, felt such depressing information wouldn’t fit between the front-page article on the Junior League Flower Show and the back-page photographs of grinning brides” (15).

    • “On the day Cecilia returned from the hospital, those two women brought over a Bundt cake in sympathy, but Mrs. Lisbon refused to acknowledge any calamity” (17).

      • Suburbs represent artificial happiness

      • Not personal but a social expectation

      • What is proper is better than what is morally or humanly appropriate


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Chapter 1

  • The Wedding Dress

    • “The dress was vintage 19920’s. It had sequins on the bust she didn’t fill out, and someone, either Cecilia or herself or the owner of the used clothing store, had cut off the bottom of the dress with a jagged stroke so that it ended above Cecilia’s chafed knee” (26).

    • “The wedding dress bore spots of hospital food, stewed carrots and beets” (27).


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Chapter 1

  • Wedding Dress

    • Vintage, too big, out of place, her connection with the past

      • Catholicism Bride of Christ (beauty and purity)

    • She puts it on after a long bath before killing herself

      • Ritualistic sacrifice?

    • Represents her innocence and purity

      • Stains show loss of it


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Chapter 2

Cecilia’s death

  • “…a creature who in dog years was still a puppy- Cecilia Lisbon” (35).

  • “Cecilia emerged from the background like a figure in an optical illusion. She was dressed not in the wedding gown, which Mrs. Lisbon had thrown away, but in a beige dress with a lace collar, a Christmas gift from her grandmother which she refused to wear in life” (39).

    • First funeral in town

    • No small coffins

      • Represent the unnaturalness of her death

      • Death being confined to the very young or the very old


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Chapter 2

  • Cecilia’s death

    • Ruins the “perfect” existence of the community

    • Not part of the suburban dream

      • “Most of our parents attended the funeral, leaving us home to protect us from the contamination of tragedy” (38).


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Chapter 2

  • Cemetery versus suburbia

    • “Inside, neglect resulting from the strike was obvious” (38).

    • Cemetery workers on strike

      • State of cemetery contrasts the maintained yards of the neighborhood

        • Workers rejection of their labor contracts reflects Cecilia’s refusal to conform thus her death

          • Both lead to the decline in the environment


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Chapter 2

  • Cecilia’s diary

    • “Instead, Cecilia writes of her sisters and herself as a single entity. It’s often difficult to identify which sister she is talking about…”

    • “And so we learned about their lives, came to hold collective memories of times we hadn’t experienced…”(40)

      • Drives the boy’s desire and curiosity to know more

      • Writes as they are 1 “we” same as boys’

      • Writes what takes place in house but no motivation or emotions included

        • No answers as to why?


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Chapter 2

  • Girls and Boys

    “We knew that the girls were our twins, that we all existed in space like animals with identical skins, and that they knew everything about us though we couldn’t fathom them at all” (43-44).

    • Contrast between male and female perspective, bodies, knowledge

    • Allows them the only insight into the girls’ lives


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Chapter 2

  • Horror of the Mundane (ordinary)

    • Death treated as daily routine

    • Average life and actions creates disaster

    • Implication that the everyday domestic aspects are life-threatening

      • This would prove fatal to the Suburbs

      • Must treat it as a catastrophic event so they stay safe- cannot be a problem that might be in their lives


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