Summary II

By October, the Lisbon household appears less cheerful. No one leaves the house except to go to church or to school. Groceries are delivered once a week, but the Lisbons' leaves remain unraked. The shabbiness of the house begins to attract attention, reminding the neighborhood of the family's decay. Previously, Cecilia's suicide had attracted no media attention, as the suburban papers were discrete and the city papers were not interested. But on October 15, an anonymous letter in the local newspaper calls for the school to address teenager anxiety. Shortly thereafter, a local reporter publishes a detailed human- interest account of Cecilia's suicide. Also, a local television station interviews teenagers who regret their attempts at suicide, and pamphlets are mailed out giving general suicide statistics.

Meanwhile, the Lisbon girls keep to themselves at school, and other students assume that they want to be left alone. In a belated response to Cecilia's death, the high school holds a Day of Grieving, but no one wants to broach the subject of the suicide. The teachers simply discuss tragedy in very broad terms while the Lisbon sisters wait out the day in the bathroom. The school also hires a social worker, Miss Kilsem, in whom the girls are thought to have confided. No one knows for sure if Miss Kelsem knew anything, because she disappears after her degree is discovered to be false and her records are destroyed in a freak fire. Nonetheless, the girls seem to be in better spirits. Lux obtains a small part in the school play, while her sisters make friends and seem to be recovering.

Trip Fontaine convinces Mr. Lisbon to persuade Mrs. Lisbon, the family authority, to allow him to take Lux to Homecoming, provided he finds dates for the other girls and that they all return home by 11 P.M. Mr. Lisbon, as chaperone, ensures that the couples only go to the dance. On the night of Homecoming, the boys drive together up to the Lisbon house. Lux, waiting on the porch, rings her doorbell to warn the other girls, and then rushes inside.

As the boys enter the house, the girls appear in shapeless homemade dresses, with their hair overly teased. Once they are in the car on the way to the dance, the girls begin to talk and gossip. The boys realize that the Lisbon sisters are actually perfectly normal. At the dance, the girls make seven trips to the bathroom, but otherwise dance, talk, and flirt with the adoring boys. Trip and Lux, followed by Joe and Bonnie, sneak under the bleachers to drink peach schnapps and make out, before emerging again to dance. Everyone applauds when Trip and Lux are voted Homecoming King and Queen. Mary tells one boy that she is having the best time of her life.

After the dance, Trip and Lux are nowhere to be found. The other three couples wait until 10:50 P.M. before driving home. Lux does not arrive home until well after midnight. Years later, Trip will explain to the boys that he persuaded Lux to sneak out of the dance and out onto the football field, where they made love on the goal line. Then Trip abandoned her to walk home. Despite Trip's feelings for Lux, he will explain to the boys that at that particular moment he just got sick of her.

At 1:30 A.M. on Homecoming night, the boys, still heady from their date, decide to drive past the Lisbon house once more. They see a single light in the bedroom window. A shade is pulled back, and then the light goes out. The boys realize, deep down, that something has just gone very wrong.