Friday, March 11, 2011

Pages 44-67

The story moves forward with Cecilia's funeral, thus officially closing the chapter that was the life of the youngest Lisbon girl. The boys reflect on what Cecilia truly meant to them, feelings often only revealed after death. They find her diary and peruse its pages, looking for answers, just as the reader finds themselves doing. This act of "picking up the pieces" leaves us in a world of mystery and tranquility. The memories of the Lisbon girls as a whole are hashed through, including an introduction to Lux and her many schoolgirl crushes that were ended abruptly by her overbearing mother. The details of the events leading up to the fateful party are also rehashed and rehashed, mostly from the perspective of the unfortunate Mr. Lisbon.

The idea of the stages of loss is touched upon greatly in this novel. Many of the characters, specifically the adults in the neighbourhood show the many stages through their actions. An unfortunate, yet early stage in these series of emotions is denial. Denial is a big part of this book, an emotion and an attitude that, if abandoned by Cecilia's parents, could have ended up saving her. The fact that no one can manage to take a thirteen year old girl seriously really bothers me. If the doctors, parents and other adults could have realized that Cecilia was serious, and not just brushed off her actions as a thirteen year old girl being dramatic then her death might have been avoidable. Something Father Moody said really perturbed me: "'Suicide , as a mortal sin, is a matter of intent. It is very difficult to know what was really in those girls' hearts. What they were really trying to do'" (Eugenides 45). I can relate to the frustrations of not being taken seriously at thirteen. Suicide is a very serious choice, and an actual attempt should never be brushed off or downgraded to an "accident". Eugenides is making a very important statement on adults through the contrast between the boys that watch the girls, and the adults around them. The boys see them for what they truly are (or as much as they can through only secondary sources) while their own parents fail to realize what is going on within their own household. Its a frustrating thing to see play out for the reader.

At Cecilia's funeral, Mrs. Lisbon's choice of dress for Cecilia further expresses the author's commentary on families in our modern time: "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 had refused to wear in life" (Eugenides 47). The power struggle within the household between Mrs. Lisbon and the girls becoming women ended up in Cecilia taking her own life. From a young girl's perspective, and with a mother of similar nature of my own, one could definitely argue that the role of Mrs. Lisbon was a key factor in the suicides of the Lisbon sisters. Even in death, the rigid, constricting, itchy and uncomfortable high collar lace dress that Cecilia specifically refused to wear is being donned at her own funeral, because she cannot give an opposition to wearing it. Mrs Lisbon has her way. Cecilia looks neat and tidy and properly in her place, except for the obvious fact that she is dead. Cecilia finally fits into Mrs Lisbons constricting mould. Except, she had to die to get there. I don't much care of Mrs Lisbon.

My favourite line of the whole story, and of the movies occurs when the boys are reading Cecilia's precious diary: "'Basically, what we have here is a dreamer. Someone out of touch with reality. When she jumped, she probably thought she could fly'" (Eugenides 50). This line, to me, represents the ethereal  and dream-like quality of the entire novel. It seems like one huge surreal blur. The idea of the death of youth and beauty in suburbia just has a shocking, yet almost beautiful quality to it. It's just this poetic bizarre situation, where there are no definite answers and no one to blame entirely, like watching bits and pieces of a fast paced film, all mixed up in a backwards order.

The boys begin to really get into the mindset of the girls as they dive deeper and deeper into their world: "We felt the imprisonment of being a girl, the way it made your mind active and dreamy, and how you ended up knowing what colours went together. We knew that the girls were our twins, that we all existed in space like animals with different skins, and that they knew everything about us though we couldn't fathom them at all. We knew, finally, that the girls were really women in disguise, that they understood love and even death, and that our job was merely to create the noise that seemed to fascinate them" (Eugenides 53). The perspective of these boys on these girls is very interesting. it's extremely voyeuristic, yet there is a maturity, an empathy and an understanding that creates the building blocks for the entire narrative. As a girl, it would be nice to find some boys that understood girls the way these seemingly young strangers understand the Lisbon girls. Their perspective, unusual as it is, gives the reader the idea that the boys are merely viewers of wild animals in cages: beautiful yet foreign. They feel as if they are in synch with the Lisbon girls, even consider them as their twins. They are learning and becoming women in their minds, as the Lisbon girls become women in real life. Its an interesting parallel.

Strange, and maybe completely wrong, but hear me out! I personally have a partial theory that the Lisbon sisters were all aware of Cecilia's intention to commit suicide. When reading this book, small but important details are hidden within the text that give clues towards the reasoning for Cecilia's suicide. I find it very interesting that after Cecilia went upstairs, " Tom Faheem recalls Mary telling him about a jumper she wanted to buy at Penney's. Therese and Tim Winer discussed their anxiety over getting into an Ivy League College" (Eugenides 57). The words "jumper" and "ivy" seem specifically placed here, seeing as Cecilia jumped out of her window and onto an iron fence (a fine place to grow ivy). I don't know what I really make of these details, but they seem too coincidental to be ignored.

The parents of the neighbourhood eventually take the liberty to dig out the fence that caused the death of Cecilia Lisbon: "Not long after, a group of fathers began digging the fence out free of charge" (Eugenides 65). This is almost like the cleansing of the neighbourhood, the fathers ridding the damage from the act that another father didn't prevent. This adds to the feeling of Mr Lisbon's growing guilt. The other fathers in the neighbourhood are cleansing his family from an event that he, himself, might have had the power to control. Eugenides mentions that the fence will not budge, even after the attempt of towing with a neighbour's car. The death of Cecilia cannot be cleansed; it will never go away.

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