Study Questions and Suggested Essay Topics
Discuss the novel's narrative "we." What is the effect of a plural narrator? What are the narrator's characteristics? How does the narrator compare to other characters in the novel?
How are vision and sight important to the novel? What role do images play?
The word "Suicide" is mentioned in the book's title, and Mary's death is the subject of the first sentence. What is the effect of this narrative structure on the novel? How does it influence the reader's perception of events?
Suggested Essay Topics
What is the effect of setting the novel in suburbia, the symbolic home of American middle-class happiness? How does the suburban landscape influence the story's events and narrative style?
Compare and contrast Lux Lisbon and Trip Fontaine. What is the significance of their relationship? Why does it matter that Lux made love to Trip instead of one of the neighborhood boys who narrate the novel?
At the end of the book, the boys admit that they still do not understand the girls' deaths. How does this failure affect the novel? In what ways does the novel use the tropes of blindness and loss to explain their imperfect knowledge?
Though the book purports to be about "virgin" suicides, Lux's encounters on the roof suggest otherwise. How does Lux's sexuality affect the reader's and the boys' perception of her character and that of her sisters? How does Lux's promiscuity affect the girls' suicides? How are the themes of sexuality, virginity, and death connected in the novel?
All five Lisbon girls and all the neighborhood boys are teenagers during the fateful year of the girls' suicides. How and why is adolescence important to the story? How are the physical and social changes of adolescence dealt with in the novel?
Compare and contrast Lux and Cecilia, the two sisters about whom we know the most. What is the significance of comparing them? What do they represent? How is this reflected in the image that Peter Sissen sees of Lux's bra draped over Cecilia's crucifix?
The neighborhood boys are impressed with Trip's gentlemanly refusal to discuss the details of his erotic adventures. To what extent is love in the novel something that can be expressed? Compare and contrast Trip's love of Lux with the boys' own love affair with the Lisbon girls. Does the fact that Trip kept his mouth shut make his love any better or more real than the narrators' love, who divulge all they can?
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