Study Guide

Virgin Suicides Plot Analysis

By Jeffrey Eugenides

Plot Analysis

Exposition (Initial Situation)

Everyone Dies

The narrators tell us right off that all five of the Lisbon sisters kill themselves, so there are no surprises. The rest of the novel will revolve around explaining why they do it, or at least trying to explain it. It all starts with Cecilia's first, failed attempt at suicide, which, according to the narrators, unleashes a contagion that spreads to her sisters.

Rising Action (Conflict, Complication)

One Down, Four to Go

At a party thrown to cheer up Cecilia and her sisters after her return from the hospital, Cecilia goes upstairs and hurls herself out of a window to her death. Shock all around.

Climax (Crisis, Turning Point)

A Fatal Mistake

There are a few candidates for "point of no return" in The Virgin Suicides, and we're going to go out on a limb and say that it's not when the girls kill themselves, but rather when Lux fails to make it home by curfew. The homecoming dance is the girls' chance to reenter society, but when Lux gets grounded everything returns to isolation and depression, sealing the family's fate.

Falling Action

Goodbye, Cruel World

After living under virtual house arrest for months, the four remaining Lisbon sisters orchestrate an elaborate suicide pact. Each girl kills herself in a different way, finally ending her teenaged torture. No more grounded for lifeā€”these girls have finally escaped from their controlling mother and joined their youngest sister.

Resolution (Denouement)

The Last to Go

Mary, unsuccessful during the group suicide, finally finishes the job a month after coming home from the hospital. She leaves her parents childless and the neighborhood completely shattered by the Lisbon family tragedy.