What were some of the underlying causes that may have led to the suicides of the Lisbons in The Virgin Suicides?

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teachertaylor eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In The Virgin Suicides, it appears that the underlying cause for the suicides of the Lisbon daughters is the lack of freedom that they all have in their lives.  Lux, by far the most outgoing of the Lisbon sisters, is often seen by the neighborhood boys leaving the home through the window to go on sexual escapades.  Her actions represent the desire for freedom felt by the girls.  The girls are not allowed outside the house and are rarely seen in and around the neighborhood.  The Lisbons attempt to shield their daughters from every possible harm that could come to teenage girls, yet their actions result in exactly the opposite of what they expect.  The methods of suicide chosen by the girls--sleeping pills, carbon monoxide, and jumping from a window--symbolically suggest the attainment of freedom.

missjenn eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I agree with the idea that the lack of freedom was one of the main underlying causes that led to the suicides of the Lisbon girls. I also think the overbearing parenting was a large factor. Yet, I feel that the first sisters obsession with death and how peaceful/rewarding she found it (one reading of her ideas) was appealing to the other sisters. They are characterized in this oddly total-unit-communal way, suggesting that the first sisters suicide is merely foreshadowing the inevitable. Which, looking at the title, it's apparent too. I agree that death was a freedom for the girls, but also death at their own hands and on their own terms gives them an autonomy they lacked as well.

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The Virgin Suicides

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