Virgin Suicides

by: Jeffrey Eugenides

Important Quotations Explained

Quotes Important Quotations Explained

… but none of these signs of malnourishment or illness or grief … detracted from Lux's overwhelming impression of being a carnal angel. They spoke of being pinned to the chimney as if by two great beating wings, and of the slight blond fuzz above her upper lip that felt like plumage. Her eyes shone, burned, intent on her mission as only a creature with no doubts as to either Creation's glory or its meaninglessness could be. The words the boys used, their shifty eyebrows, fright, bafflement, made it clear they had served as only the most insignificant footholds in Lux's ascent, and, in the end, even though they had been carried to the peak, they couldn't tell us what lay beyond.

Immediately after Homecoming, at the beginning of Chapter Four, Mrs. Lisbon inexplicably withdraws the Lisbon sisters from school and confines them to the house. In the following months, Lux is seen having sex on the roof with a stream of anonymous men. The neighborhood boys, fascinated, watch her escapades with binoculars, piecing together what they see with firsthand testimony from some of her partners. As the winter progresses, Lux begins to physically deteriorate, but as the quote indicates, her performance and presence are no less magnificent. At Cecilia's ill-fated party, the boys had realized that Lux was the only Lisbon girl as beautiful as they had imagined. Here, she becomes symbolic not only of all that is desirable about the Lisbon sisters, but also of a greater feminine ideal. She is the creature of each narrator's fantasy, lying not only beyond his comprehension but also more tangibly just beyond his reach.

Lux's carnal knowledge implies a worldly wisdom well beyond her fourteen years, echoing her mysterious ability to summon partners without leaving the house. But here, and throughout the novel, her magic depends on her inaccessibility. The boys can see her, but they cannot touch, taste, smell, or hear her from their own rooftop. Indeed, the book's emphasis on sight and vision as primary senses continually underscores their distance as spectators. They imagine Lux to be an angel, an unreachable and barely human creature who has temporarily alighted on earth. Although they willingly participate, Lux's partners have little idea as to her actual motives for braving the roof, their lust, and the winter chill. At chapter's end, the boys will echo these questions as they wonder why Lux invited them to attend her sisters' suicide. The girls' surety, their resolve and their silence leave the boys wondering whether they have known the girls at all. They suspect that they have been simply accessories, allowed to witness but not to participate in the girls' higher plans.