The Virgin Suicides

In: Novels

Submitted By daughertydianne
Words 4308
Pages 18
Suicide:
The Lisbon Girls’ Only Escape
From the Lies of a Dying Society

One of the major underlying themes in The Virgin Suicides is the idea of a dying society, dying not from disease, but from boredom and conformity, not a physical death, but a cultural death, a spiritual death. We see death in the dying fish flies, the dying Elm trees as well as the Lisbon girls. The perspective of the world in the novel is cruelly and unrealistically pessimistic. The “…town is covered by the flotsam of those ephemeral insects. Rising in clouds from the algae in the polluted lake…flying scum” (4). But is not just fish flies that are polluting this town. Life itself in the Suburbs is morally and spiritually polluted.

Eugenides writes that “Winter is the season of alcoholism and despair” (175). If this is the case then the entire novel seems to be one eternal winter. Or one could consider summer in comparison to winter, as the season of suicide, and no matter what the season, the world in the novel is a cruel, dark, hopeless place. The world is viewed in the novel as a sort of wasteland from which mankind has attempted to escape, moving to Suburbia seeking perfection and thus salvation. Only perfection is an unrealistic goal, and is therefore naturally unobtainable. Part of the American ideal of happiness is to strive for the unobtainable. The suburbs only exist as an attempt to cover up reality, hiding problems, worries, anxieties, realities, and skeletons behind the monotonous lawns, and closed doors. This theme is repeated throughout the novel. For example, in the line that reads: “What my yia yia could never understand about America was why everyone pretended to be happy all the time” (175). Perhaps Eugenides is encouraging us to question this American Value of perfection and perfect happiness.

“Old Mrs. Karafilis…lived in the basement waiting to die”…...

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