48 pages 1 hour read

Jeffrey Eugenides

The Virgin Suicides

Fiction | Novel | Adult | Published in 1993

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Chapter 1Chapter Summaries & Analyses

Chapter 1 Summary

In a typical American suburb in Michigan, teen boys compare observations and artifacts about five attractive sisters, the Lisbon girls, and what might have led up to their deaths by suicide. They describe the death of each girl and outline pieces of gossip and observations they made before the girls died. The girls (Therese, Mary, Bonnie, Lux, and Cecilia, in descending order of age), all of whom were teens at the time, died one by one, beginning with the youngest, Cecilia.

Cecilia was 13 when she cut her wrists in a bathtub. The paramedics found her barely alive, wearing a white dress and holding a photograph of the Virgin Mary on her chest; words on the back of the photo noted how the Virgin Mary arrived to “bring peace to a crumbling world” (12). The boys watched as Cecilia was taken out on a stretcher and her mother “let out a long wail that stopped time” (4). At the hospital, Cecilia seemed numb and detached, and when asked, blamed her decision on being “a thirteen-year-old girl” (5). Cecilia was known to wear an antique wedding dress around the house, as she had on that day, and the boys have photographs that showcase how the girls looked and behaved.