Thursday, April 14, 2011

Mrs. Lisbon & the Aftermath

As a reader, I would love to know more about Mrs. Lisbon and her history. To me, she is such an intriguing character because the reader never knows what motivates her and why she is so controlling, cold and emotionless. The subtle mentions of her throughout the course of the final four suicides show that she no longer cares about herself, her husband or her daughters. A key moment in this is when she first lets the paramedics into her house: "When the paramedics entered, she remained in the doorway tightening the belt of her robe. She straightened the welcome mat with her toe twice" (Eugenides 283). It is never clearly established if Mrs. Lisbon is aware that the entire neighbourhood has their eyes on her house and her family. As a mother, a role generally thought as one that keeps the family together, she must have been humiliated and upset at the loss of her first daughter. Mothers in general tend to get blamed and also blame themselves when a family falls apart, because they are the provider, the nurturer. Mrs. Lisbon tightened her robe and straightened the mat because she didn't know who might have been watching.

Mrs. Lisbon also follows the stretcher out to the ambulance, as the already-dead Therese is being wheeled away: "In the next second she was running, holding onto Therese's arm and murmuring what some people heard as 'Not you, too,' and Mrs. O'Connor who had acted in college as 'But too cruel.'" (Eugenides 284). Mrs. Lisbon tries as she runs after Therese to put Therese's dead hand out of sight underneath the sheets on the stretcher. This can be interpreted as her trying to perform a motherly act of protection, or as her
inflicting her controlling personality on her daughter even in death.

I like the fact that the same paramedics come to the house on Cecilia's attempted suicide, Cecilia's suicide, the triple suicide and Mary's final suicide. The neighbourhood almost knows them personally: "We still didn't know their real names but we were beginning to intuit the conditions of their paramedic lives" (Eugenides 282). This led me to thinking that a short story from the paramedics' point of view on the subject of the Lisbon sisters would be really compelling; it is interesting to think of the story from different points of views. Perhaps a fully picture could be pained if the boys knew the paramedics personally. Then again,, if they new the Lisbons personally, the picture would have been much clearer to begin with.

Later, Mrs. Lisbon is seen on her back porch, burning a stack of documents. No one knows what the stack of documents could be. This is another mystery of the Lisbon household that unfortunately, we may never know the answer to. Eugenides wants us to feel like the boys felt, still unable to put the pieces of the puzzle back together in an order that makes sense.

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