Thursday, March 31, 2011


After the dance, the boys take the Lisbon girls home. All except, of course, Lux, who stays with Trip on the football field to have sex. She appears drunk at her home, two hours later than expected. Because of her failuire to make curfew, Mrs. Lisbon shuts the girls up in the house, and takes them out of school. The boys rarely see the girls, except for Lux, who has developed a habit of having sex with random boys and men on the roof of her house at night when the Lisbon parents are asleep.

"'We just want to live. If anyone would let us'" (Eugenides 172).
This quote by Mary Lisbon, to her homecoming date really sums up the feelings of the Lisbon sisters. After the death of Cecilia, so many rules and sanctions are placed upon them. They have been analyzed and discussed and scrutinized to the point in which they no longer have any breathing room. Their parents, their friends and their community have all played a role in this. It calls in to question the definition of being alive, and what is really important in life. For example, it's one thing to be living, but Mary Lisbon (and presumably her sisters) want to experience life. They're rare birds in cages, cut off from the outside world (pardon my cliched metaphor).

To add to the mystery of the storyline, Trip Fontaine begins to act strangely as he and Lux go off to the football field. The book Trip is a lot more heartless than the Trip in the movie. He begins to hint at his unattached feelings for Lux: "'This is it. We danced. We got ribbons. It only lasts for tonight'" (Eugenides 178). He is referring to their status as homecoming King and Queen, but his choice of words almost foreshadows to what is about to happen next. And what does happen next is the kind of thing you  hear about in typical cautionary don't-have-sex stories: "'It's weird, I mean I liked her. I really liked her. I just got sick of her right then'" (Eugenides 179). Trip has sex with Lux, and leaves her on the football field, alone. I don't know what to make of this, other than the obvious finger-wagging message of not engaging in sex, because the man/boy/boyfriend/manthing/whatever will instantly devalue you if you do. Is this a message to young girls? Granted, this may just be reality. It may be simpler than a cautionary message, it might just be the sad truth of being a teenager and unsure about what you want. As much as boys can say they don't understand girls, here, I don't know if I understand Trip's motivations.

The season changed definately, as the girls are placed under lockdown: "Moreover, as fall turned to winter the trees in the yard drooped and thickened, concealing the house" (Eugenides 181). The metaphorical death of Lux's innocence is symbolized by the coming winter. Even the other girls lost some of their cherished innocence at the dance, though they did not fall as hard as their younger sister did. The trees conceal the house, the opposite effect of what bare trees normally do. The boys' close relationship (through nothing but sight and sound of the girls) is ending. They are drifting farther away from the four sisters.

I also find it interesting that, years after the deaths, Mrs. Lisbon meets the boys for a makeshift interview in a bus station. It's almost as if she has no place to go, no metaphorical home anymore. She is lost, much like uncomfortable traveller at a bus terminal.

It also has mentioned for quiet a while that Lux is a cigarette enthusiast. The cigarette could be looked at as a phallic symbol. Lux is addicted to cigarettes, it is her crutch, and it helps her through the day. In turn, she is now also addicted to men, trying to justify through sleeping with countless amounts of them that her time spent with Trip Fontaine (who she never talks to again) was meaningless. Both of these habits make her feel better, they help her take her mind off her troubles. They can also both leave you dead, both literally (cigarettes) and figuratively (sleeping with anyone brave enough to scale your roof).
Lux and Trip never speak again.
Words Looked Up:
Dictum: A formal statement from an authoritative source. Mrs. Lisbon, a controlling dictator, would be one to give a dictum.
Redolent: Strongly suggestive of something. The boy's remember the hour of the day, by the redolent tastes in their mouths from hours before. The days are blending together, with nothing of merit to mark their coming and going.
Punitive: Intended as punishment. Mrs. Lisbon later insists that she never meant to punish the girls by taking them out of school.
Miasmic: An unpleasant smell. Raccoons were attracted to the run-down Lisbon house by the miasmic vapours of garbage. There is A LOT of smell imagery in this book.


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  2. Something just got me thinking while I was reading this blog. I'm trying to figure out why Lux even had sex with Trip in the first place? I'm sure she was well aware of his womanizing ways, so why would she go all the way with him? Do you think she just wanted to give up her virignity and go against her parents rules? Or maybe that Trip was the most desirable man out there and Trip wanting Lux made her desirable as well? What do you think?

    1. I think Lux really did like Trip. I don't think she was that drunk, but I do think he took a bit advantage of her. It's so sad that this scene is actually really relevant to many teenage girls. A quote from Still Standing (lol...) reminds me a lot of this scene.
      Judy: Don't have sex unless--
      Lauren: Yeah yeah until I'm in love and married and ready. I know.
      Judy: Well, I was going to say unless you really have the hots for a guy but I like your answer better.
      I love this book so much, and I myself have fallen victim to a good-looking guy's charms. God, what a great novel.

  3. Well first of all, she was drunk. Maybe that had something to do with it? She had been with other guys before, maybe she just didn't care anymore about respecting herself?

    My big question is the planning of the suicides. When do you think the girls made their plans to commit suicide? I think Lux was already thinking about it when she was with Trip. This may have been why she didn't care about what she did with him.

  4. I never actually thought that Lux could have been thinking about suicide when she was with Trip and that could have been the reason why she did not care. Good point! Now to answer your question, I think a particular moment triggered each girl to say, "If this is the way we have to live, I rather just die." I personally think all the girls thought about suicide when they were pulled from school and were locked up at home. That was a whole new turn in the girls’ lives and when anyone is locked up at home, it is torture. I mean come on, if our parents locked you or me in our house and never let out and pulled from school to end all socialization, I would go crazy! The sisters were probably so fed up with being locked up and they probably knew that this was going to be their fate and life was never going to be how they wanted it to be. They could see how their future was going to be and were so fed up with how they were being treated that they decided to just end their lives, to just end the misery.

  5. I don't necessarily think that the Lisbon sisters wanted to die, I just think that they didn't particularly want to live anymore. Does that make sense? It kind of does to me.

    I also think they saw death as more romantic and beautiful then the average person would; teenage girls tend to romanticize suicide in particular. It's statistically proven that more girls than boys attempt suicide, though more boys succeed then girls. They envision themselves as Juliet, or Marilyn Monroe, or Ophelia, the tragic death of beauty. Though I am totally convinced that many girls buy into the tragic glamour of these characters, I'm not a hundred per cent sure why.