Virgin Suicides


Chapter 4

Summary Chapter 4

Second, Lux's sexual promiscuity suggests that she has access to worlds beyond suburbia and to wisdom beyond her years. The boys are as mystified by her ability to summon partners as they are by her seemingly intuitive knowledge of the sexual act. Without ever leaving her house, Lux meets and copulates with men from places that the boys are free to roam but have never seen. Furthermore Lux's partners, reporting that she often seemed bored by the sex itself, feel that they have been merely part of her greater plan. Lux's access to the world beyond house arrest is mirrored in her access to a world beyond her body. The limitations of Lux's physical environment are simply factors to which she adapts. Her physical presence in the house does not prevent her interacting with other places, any more than the physical act of sex prevents her mind from focusing intently on other things. The neighborhood boys are shocked by this revelation because for them, the physical world, and physical sex, is what is most important. To them, Lux's ability to move beyond the physical warns of an ability to leave the physical world entirely. Lux's knowledge of sex implies a concomitant knowledge of death.

Finally, Lux's "burst appendix" is the only time in the novel in which the ambulance arrives without finding a suicide. This is the third time the ambulance has appeared, having come once after Cecilia's suicide attempt and again after her success. Lux's ambulance ride due to faked illness is an important counterpoint to her sisters' ambulance rides due to suicide. What haunts Lux is not death but life, in the form of pregnancy. The theatrics of her "illness" implicitly call the nature of her sisters' suicides into question, suggesting that they be understood not only as private acts, but also as a kind of performance art. Sitting up on the stretcher, clutching her stomach, Lux is a perfect caricature of the victim. Lux plays on the latent fears of her audience to be allowed to escape the house. It is a brilliant ploy, exposing not only the boys' dire expectations, but also our expectations that the girls will eventually commit suicide. The fake illness makes it difficult for us to ultimately accept Lux as the victim of an inexorable narrative. Like the boys, we are left to wonder whether even Lux's eventual suicide is a trick she has played, or a charade whose real purpose we are not yet clever enough to see.