After Cecilia's suicide attempt, the Lisbon parents decide to heed the psychiatrist's advice and allow the girls to have a party, thus relaxing some of their strict rules around the house. The boys tell of their invitation to the party, how they attended, only to witness a sullen Cecilia Lisbon excuse herself and, minutes later, plunge to her death. The boys and the Lisbon sisters watch helplessly as Mr. Lisbon attempt to rescue Cecilia from the garden fence that she is impaled on. The boys, again, look for clues in the diary of Cecilia as the rest of the neighbourhood searches for answers.
The aspect of this novel that really impacts me is the presence of dramatic irony: "That was why, two weeks after Cecilia returned home, Mr. Lisbon persuaded his wife to allow the girls to throw the first and only party of their short lives" (Eugenides 28). Specifically, the audience is fully aware, even from the first page, even before opening the book, that all five sisters are going to kill themselves. The question is not the traditional who, but is a more unorthodox why. Is isn't: who killed themselves? It's: why did they kill themselves? Therefore, the story takes a more interesting look at suicide and it's causes and affects and the emptiness it creates for those it leaves behind.
The imagery used is also very powerful to illustrate the death of Cecilia: "He was trying to lift her left breast, traveled through her inexplicable heart, separated two vertebrae without shattering either, and ripping the dress and finding the air again" (Eugenides 37). The literal death of innocence is described here and I causes the reader to ponder. The title The Virgin Suicides refers to the literal death of the girls in the book, them being youthful pure and (for the most part) virginal. Literally however, it refers to the death of innocence that is the prominent theme of the story. The death is willing, making it a suicide. I think the author is trying to make a story about the fact that no one can stay a Lisbon girl forever, and everyone must grow up and face the real world eventually. Cecilia's diary hold pictures: "Minatures designs crowded the pages. Bubblegum angels swooped from top margins, or scraped their wings between teeming paragraphs. Maindens with their golden hair dripped sea-blue tears into the book's spine. Grape-coloured whales spouted blood around a newspaper item (pasted in) listing arrivals to the endangered species list" (Eugenides 38). The boys have merely been fascinated by Lisbons and how they have, even only momentarily, have captured the essence of youth.
The author is also making a comment regarding the disunited nature of the typical North American family and community. After Cecilia's suicide: "No one else on our street was aware of what had happened. The identical lawns down the block were empty. Someone was barbecuing somewhere. Behind Joe Lawson's house we could hear a birdie being batted back and forth" (Eugenides 40). Life can go on, in such an emotional situation with such an emotionless attitude from the neighbours around, as if it was any other day. The death of youth and beauty has occurred right on their street, and they're barbecuing and playing badminton, blissfully unaware. It's dissatisfying and anti-climatic, but very real, such as the cemetery strike. Cecilia's body is unable to be buried. It's a sad situation for the family, because of the reality of real life. Life goes on, and what may be a colossal and life-changing situation for your family, someone else may be completely apathetic about. Just a sad truth about life I guess.
I already am enjoying this book as much as I enjoyed the movie. There are some small but important differences between the two that I find interesting. I'm looking forward to the story progressing and reading more about Lux and Trip Fountaine.