48 pages 1 hour read

Jeffrey Eugenides

The Virgin Suicides

Fiction | Novel | Adult | Published in 1993

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The Objectification of Women

The Virgin Suicides unfolds through the recalled first-person plural perspective of a group of boys who watch, obsess, study, and pine over the Lisbon daughters, five girls who end their own lives in succession. The boys objectify and mystify the girls rather than treating them as human, and the narration depicts the girls as if they’re objects of study or as pieces of art on display. They’re mythologized and turned into a sort of legend of the suburb, which continues to haunt the boys into adulthood. When they gaze on the Lisbon girls, they feel bashful and ashamed, as if they’re “used to seeing women in veils” (5). The boys’ obsession with the Lisbon girls is similar to religious fervor, and every tiny interaction with them assumes magnified importance.

The boys regularly describe the girls’ appearance in a detailed and often graphic and insensitive way, such as when they describe Cecilia as looking like a “deranged harlot” at her party. The boys’ descriptions of other peoples’ encounters with Lux in particular, such as Trip’s first moment with her, are likewise graphically vile: “With terror he put his finger in the ravenous mouth of the animal leashed below her waist.