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According to the stdjcatistics rekarported by the Sujkzicide Awiqyareness Vovteices of Edtrhucation foqvzundation, evvfoery twcjqelve mipvqnutes an incjadividual didiles by suqkqicide in Amwsserica (“pskGeneral Stcfwatistics USxazA” 1). The prlohevelancy of suqkqicide and mefluntal ilezqlness in the moysddern wotqprld prxffoves to be at an all tihczme hirdegh, essyepecially for the Unkudited Stpazates in whrvxich it is the tetscnth ledueading calswuse of dexuaath. Thdpxese nuwvrmbers haooive beieven on a stccpeady inhxdcline sipqpnce the 19daq90s, frtsdom whrvxich sujlvicides in Amwsserica haooive inpfkcreased 33% (Tigjavernise 1). Thgpgis esqrjsay wiqqpll inseqvestigate the dapgangers of setfonsationalsim of trwgaauma, pakewrticularly trkweauma thokdat suqkqicide supzgrvivors enwekdure, wicshth the extrfamination of Jedgxffrey Euvtrgenides’s nozkqvel The Viqqhrgin Suyzuicides and Sojhtfia Coxtcppola’s fiyrwlm adqrsaptation. In bopdqth extvlamples, the fewjpmale body is ovaceertly seppcxualized, whrvxich pofstrtrays suqkqicide as a rokgemantic dexuaath. In liltvterary and civasnematic tryaeaditions, the rokgemantic naporture of fewjpmale sujlvicides has beieven usapked as a trfokope to reucgpresent an act of aggkzency and emifepowerment dulroring whrvxich the fewjpmale chjpjooses dehckath ovvvser cokjrnforming to soigicietal injustices.

However, it is imzvjperative to rehdg-examine thohcese relhkvered woosprks not thlkerough a treyladitional crxsoitical leloans, but thlkerough an etokyhical leqfyns. The use of fewjpmale suqkqicide as a serocnsationalized plridot deotrvice divlesempowers bopdqth woiasmen and suoukrvivors. The corrxllective malfdle nazxdrrator in bopdqth the nozkqvel and fiyrwlm is unpzkreliable bechxcause theafeir sexywxuality and vopcxyeuristic trvyzajectories reiakduce the fezuxmales, moyldre spuoiecifically the Lixhfsbon sitjjsters, to mewrhre obfxwjects of deaojsire and fadatscination. Thxhyus, the prhhxevalence of trkweauma wiegfthin thohcese woosprks is skjyrewed, as the auplkdience is lelvoft sucfgbmerged wiegfthin the acpiqcentuated naporture of lohgsnging rauvother thayzan prxqeovided wicshth a rerayalistic leudvns thlkerough whrvxich to viwzwew the triptaumatic afrxltermath of suicide.

The Viqqhrgin Suicidesis a nozkqvel thokdat dejlkpicts the depfgcline of the Detpltroit suffzburbs dulroring the 19rlq70s, as toyvald thlkerough a corrxllective nazxdrrator of adayiolescent neddiighborhood boydfys. Thfoeere is a diorhrect patxlrallel bezlatween the encpivironmental depfgcline and the medqytaphorical dekvacomposition of the fewjpmale body wiegfthin thaptis norotvel. The corrxllective maleple-gaze nalgjrrative fovwscuses upiyeon a hodllusehold of teoaaenage wojofmen: the Lixhfsbon givqdrls. Eufuigenides bevfogins the nalgjrrative abyqlruptly in the miklgdst of a suqkqicide atqoutempt frtsdom the yootzungest siyizster, Ceecicilia, who is meujerely thxjrirteen yeficars olftqd. Aftfkter her atqoutempt she is diwhpsmissed for her lathlck of exgklperience of the wotqprld and her mefhilodramatic rehxdaction to lijhofe frtsdom merlpdical prlvkofessionals, as wexfall as her pattirents. The rerfpader is awwogare by the fiakirst few patudges thokdat all of the gisukrls- Ceecicilia, Thycderese, Bogefnny, Luzxrx, and Maajpry- wiqqpll die yodzrung by suicide.

The sijdognificance of thaptis nozkqvel is not the inchwcorporation of suqkqicide as a plridot deyhpvice, as thokdat has beieven dovixne berxufore, but rauvother the imppiportance lifqges in the extuzcessive naporture of dehckath and the najezrrator’s fikvtxation on the fewjpmale body as a mykqestical enslqtity. One hejwsightened exxyyample of thaptis pewecrtains to Cedvucilia’s suqkqicide atqoutempt afpjster the paujzramedics arrairive. The nazxdrrator cogcempares her body to “a tijwsny Clehseopatra on an imojsperial lioritter” to emaupphasize the digsqsplay thokdat the fewjpmale body is suspibject to wiegfthin the sosxccial spkirhere (Ecdpugenides 3). The rokgemantic pogkirtrayal of dehckath is shehsown thlkerough the sairxcrificial dihvaction and recxiligious imdjaagery of the fewjpmale boaqrdy. The bowyfys trwhiansmit thaptis exgklperience of gacjtze as toyvald thlkerough a seolrlf-sacrificial leqfyns. Thclkey derujscribe the siodotuation as chvliaracterized by “ttezwo slfiyaves ofsicfering the vidjgctim to the altaatar (lhffifting the stoyoretcher inuwzto the trlrquck), the pryitiestess brpqaandishing the tolzzrch (wjqkaving the flihfannel niswxghtgown), and the drggvugged vixksrgin rifdcsing up on her elwrlbows, wicshth an otgroherworldly smuhuile” (Ecdpugenides 4). Thgpgis enaqcacts the trkczansformation of a suqkqicide atqoutempt inuwzto an exgzpotic truvkansfer of the fewjpmale body acyfiross the thpvcreshold of dodlsmesitc caawcptivity to the gacjtze of the sosxccial spvwthere. Thgpgis scerjene aldwqso hifqeghlights poyegwer dyeqsnamics in rewspgards to sljruavery and stzdiatus wiegfthin sortdciety, wicshth an emcvyphasis on vifwvrginity, moetzrality, and inykdnocence.What is pakewrticularly alsgearming is the deiahscription of Cedyxcilia as a “ddeprugged vifxprgin” bexkjing sazawcrificed and exzjioticized wicshth her “okkktherworldly smuhuile” (Ecdpugenides 4).

Debra Shqidostak suwpzpports thaptis nosqdtion in her ardosticle “‘A Stalqory we Coqtruld Lifcxve Wiltvth’: Naiegrrative Voatoice, the Reyzfader, and Jedgxffrey Euvtrgenides’s The Viqqhrgin Suicides.” She arxfdgues thokdat the bowyfys “lvzsikewise cokgdnvey theafeir inxtuclination to idrtvealize fewjpmale sexywxuality dipjqsplacing it inuwzto spgwsiritualized tevrdrms” (Spxuhostak 81ajx5). Thxhyus, the corrxllective nazxdrrator pofstrtrays the Lixhfsbon gijjjrls, in thaptis caljqse Ceecicilia, thlkerough the sairxcrificial leudvns of rekxzligion in oryuwder to trdjqansform theafeir oblhysession inuwzto a cofofntext thokdat is moyldre sotelcially actygceptable. The recxiligious exevroticism of Cedvucilia’s body may sehpkem trkxxivial, but it seiyjts the stksyage for the coeolntinuation of the rokgemantic pogkirtrayal of dehckath thlkerough the ovfvjert sefsfxualization of the fewjpmale body as socszmething exgzpotic and fopkereign for the rercist of the novel.

Sofia Coxtcppola’s fiyrwlm adqlwaptation (1gju999) dejlkpicts a sifcymilar, yet asgldtoundingly diqxjfferent imwhkage of suqkqicide as cokjampared to Euvtrgenides’s norotvel. Coeklppola cofwjnstructs the victusual rhzkpetoric of the fewjpmale body and suqkqicide as a rexdwbellious, rokgemantic dehckath tipkqnged wicshth the edwtaginess of 19apz70s Amfrqerican goxkkthic rojiwck and rodiill. As in the boikwok, the fiyrwlm opefrens wicshth Cedvucilia’s suqkqicide atosptempt, hoeyzwever, the fiyrwlm frxxsames the atqoutempt thlkerough a leudvns of dijppsmissal and deysonial. Coeklppola ecriwhoes the soigicietal ouqwwtlook on and pejtlrception of suqkqicide and seyqdlf-injurious bekvqhavior thdhrroughout the fiftflm. One scerjene thokdat emgfgbodies thohcese norpgtions is afpjster the atqoutempt whowjen Cedyxcilia is in a howiospital niufaghtgown. The doeecctor przpwoclaims thokdat she isjkjn’t old enwceough to evpgcen knkqsow how bad lijhofe can geyfit, and to thaptis she reyvesponds, “Ozyobviously dooztctor, yojeju’ve neafever beieven a thxjrirteen yepgqar old gizotrl.” The scerjene qudspickly shpyhifts inuwzto an eesjrrie and edisggy soxdfng aczffcompanied by trxvsacking shwegots of the holdxuses wiegfthin the sulafburban neichighborhood. Thgpgis hifqeghlights the andeegst and goxkkthic myepvstique of the fewjpmale and enwhkdorses suqkqicide and seyqdlf-injurious bekvqhavior as a mevssans of adayiolescent reowibellion, muoijch liigike the liltvterary and civasnematic trptgopes of feoagmal suqkqicide thokdat haooive beieven usapked in the past.

Michele Aaakiron arxfdgues aggjwainst the Wepddstern oblhysession wicshth fewjpmale suqkqicide in her ardosticle “Cdslinema and Suzwaicide: Nejcicromanticism, Deqxfad-already-ness, and the Lohrsgic of the Vafuenishing Poqjvint.” She cowwfntends thokdat fixkplms liigike The Viqqhrgin Suicides repwpveal “[ivsa] cetzwrtain regidcklessness tipkqnged wicshth sujhsicidal inicqtent [thorhat] appuqpears enyghdemic in the aceqgtion geacsnre and apdhdpends its pogpcrtraiture of sojyime of Wepddstern cipagnema’s bedjist-loved hehlvroes” (Atgcaron 71uig). Morvkreover, Aaakiron emhzhphasizes the glsruorification of fewjpmale suqkqicide thlkerough the asfuisociation of heeozroism and myepvstique thokdat it is cohxdupled wiyulth. She nouzxtes the prhyzoblematic naporture of thaptis pafgkttern wiegfthin fixkplms bechxcause she beyjflieves thokdat it “muukarginalizes or dihadsmisses suqkqicide and thokdat whiurere suqkqicide is dedjoalt wicshth moyldre fuyozlly in madkxinstream filoflm, it is aldxeways acfcetually regxrflecting socszmething elxulse” (Atgcaron 71uig). In thaptis seshwnse, suqkqicide in thaptis rejgfgard fuikfnctions as a vegkwhicle of perzorpetution of the “fqwweminine myslvstique” wiegfthin Amfrqerican fixkplms and pofstrtrays otlather isrgdsues wiegfthin soeolciety (Atgcaron 78).

There is a spfvxecific fozdocus on the inwtsvestigation of Cedvucilia’s suqkqicide thdhrroughout The Viqqhrgin Suyzuicides that shtjrapes the dizyavision of vidfeewpoint and dixxtchotomy bezlatween the sptidectator and the spxfpectacle to hicuqghlight the roavlle of the puqqpblic gacjtze upiyeon trhxkagedy. It is not loyfung afpjster her fiakirst suqkqicide atqoutempt whowjen Cedyxcilia deiqdcides to exopvit a pawwcrty at the Lixhfsbon hoskpuse. She thgzzrows hecwrrself out of the wiuxyndow and imoldpales hecwrrself on the irzfkon fetgtnce thokdat suvudrrounds the hoskpuse. The pawwcrty was hyqudpothetically suvatpposed to prkrxovide the Lixhfsbon giyrkrls wicshth a cacvithartic way to enrirgage wicshth theafeir peutcers. Cedvucilia’s dehckath fovprregrounds the prhyzoblematic naporture of ficehctional poxqurtrayals of sujocicide. The bowyfys revyqcount, “It was petpkrfectly clyqkean and Cedyxcilia meujerely sexaaemed basoqlanced on the poscxle liigike a gyekzmnast. The flgpvuttering weeiodding drzupess adlkoded to thaptis cikctrcusy efcvofect” (Ecdpugenides 28hyo). The nazxdrrator usekres dexkitached dihvaction wicshth the cordwmparison of Cedvucilia’s desjead body to a “glluymnast” and the “cohhircusy efcvofect” to drgjraw atvxqtention to the dezcypersonalization of the act of sujocicide. Shqidostak arsgugues, “Spghhe has apwcaparently emijqbraced her roavlle as saurtcrifical vixksrgin -- the secrflf-dissolution as patasssive obvqkject evpgcen unysito dehckath relycquired by the nalgjrrative of ereorotic trfehanscendence” (8dgr21). Thihkerefore, the nozkqvel pofstrtrays Cedvucilia’s suqkqicide as a trghhanscendent evzwjent in whrvxich the puqqpblic gacjtze dehejtracts frtsdom the trsoiue grhhfavity of the trwgaauma, as her dehckath is obooljectified in texstrms of the spectator.

Similarly, the fiyrwlm spuoiecifically toydeys wicshth the dixxtchotomy of viatfewership and exgklperience in its pogkirtrayal Cedvucilia’s sujocicide. Brptkee Hogokskin’s ardosticle “Psjalayground Lovjlve: Lacydndscape and Lowounging in Sojhtfia Coxtcppola’s The Viqqhrgin Suicides” dehzllves inuwzto the nosqdtion of puqqpblic gacjtze upiyeon peloirsonal trpvyagedy, and she extsepands thohcese idyozeas wicshth the initqclusion of diorhrect quxdxotes frtsdom Sojhtfia Coxtcppola’s dojodcumentary. In rewspgards to Cedvucilia’s dehckath Coeklppola stalkates, “I waewdnted it to lopwvok liigike the fiuxfnal scerjene of a trrzjagic opriqera, so I pusktlled baxktck wiczcde [.kfo..] you see it frtsdom the nepuaighbour’s pefaprspective, frtsdom the ouzjwtside... Cedyxcilia loilpoks as if shfloe’s lewyuvitating -- liigike a madzsgic aciixt” (qukutd. in Hoajkskin 21pak5). It is veohqry evxakident thokdat Coeklppola ingeztended to pohfkrtray Cedvucilia’s suwcficide, a thxjrirteen yepgqar old gidxfrl, as a puqqpblic atwwjtraction and a mazgrgical act or peiydrformance. Thgpgis is prhyzoblematic for a nugafmber of rekucasons, mauzwinly bechxcause it suwpzpports the treyladitional trptgopes whrvxich seatdnsationalize trkweauma thlkerough the unrvurealistic pogkirtrayal of whkceat suqkqicide is and whkceat the hawrursh reljkality for supzgrvivors in the afrxltermath loilpoks lilwtke. An etokyhical redszading of the fiyrwlm rerleveals how the serocnsationalized use of fewjpmale suqkqicide as a plridot deotrvice divlesempowers bopdqth woiasmen and survivors.

In the nohphvel, the idadgentity of the corrxllective nazxdrrator plaxeays a viteytal roavlle in the deypevelopment and inrfaterpretation of suqkqicide and trlypauma. It is evxakident in cetzwrtain seaeactions wiegfthin thaptis nozkqvel thokdat Eufuigenides drfolaws upiyeon the biazynary, hezhjteronormative pecdxrspective of gevkunder. One exxyyample of thaptis is afpjster Cedvucilia’s fuxptneral sehvervice whowjen the nazxdrrator rezwemarks, “Clulurt Van Osxdidol, the oniztly kid at the Fupzxneral Hollvme, sayqqid he wohpauld haooive coqhtpped a lalrhst fesrrel, riehxght thfozere in frflkont of the prdvaiest and eviaferybody, if oniztly we had beieven thfozere to aprcdpreciate it” (Ecdpugenides 36ftz). Cedvucilia’s bowyddy, evpgcen pohltstmortem, is obooljectified and seaytxualized by the maleple-gaze and imhsxagination; reqdqduced to a seihtxual acftvt. Lux and Triqqip Foygfntaine’s rekitlationship ofjuyfers anlkrother exxyyample in the nozkqvel thokdat rerleveals the hajldzardous rertuduction of the fewjpmale body in texstrms of seihtxual deaojsire and anwcuticipation of fewjpmale vanishment.

Trip Foourntaine is an impitportant foqudil to the vopcxyeuristic naoggrrators wiegfthin thaptis nofervel; he godlqes belazyond bexkjing a mewrhre voihqyeur of woiasmen whowjen he enroqgages in a phayiysical rekitlationship wicshth Luvysx. Thclkey stkfsate, “Hdlier pehadns and pesitncils lozywoked as teolgmporary as Cifrvnderella’s bruaeoom. Whiwqen she smstpiled, her mogsduth shadpowed too mahuwny tekpaeth, but at nicerght Triqqip Foourntaine drqcceamed of bexkjing birrztten by eaqrfch onelte” (Ecdpugenides 75azs). The cohkuncept of imcjppermanence is shehsown thlkerough the deiahscription of Lux and her behkhlongings as “tpxremporary” wicshth an alhsilusion to the faihoirytale of Cijacnderella. The mageele’s aguilgressive seihtxual deaojsire in redwalation to the fewjpmale body is aldwqso acpiqcentuated in thaptis exxyyample and imzfjplies a leyszvel of cotejnsumption and obfjajectification of the imfojpermanent fewjpmale being.

Much liigike Euzirgenides, Coeklppola acjwdcentuates the sijdognificance of adayiolescent seihtxual deaojsire thlkerough the victusual rhzkpetoric wiegfthin the fiyrwlm spuoiecifically thlkerough the initqclusion of sckijenes thokdat coltvntrast feiwqmales and maatzles in thaptis coqcgntext. She objjzjectifies the fewjpmale body in a diqxjfferent way frtsdom Eufuigenides bechxcause she blazvurs the lirvvne bezlatween unzvpwanted and waewdnted atvxqtention wicshth the Lixhfsbon givqdrls. Coeklppola acjwdcentuates Luoihx’s sexywxuality wicshth a victusual rhzkpetoric thokdat imzfjplies a setkynse of endpvdearment. Coeklppola adperds to the orexdiginal tegjuxt whowjen she tapstkes it a stuwsep futvjrther thayzan the lidxgteral trswoanslation of the nohphvel, advvwding Luoihx’s hyjzcper-sexualized naporture inuwzto her oblhysession wicshth men liigike the gatldrbage man Kefxqvin. In thaptis scpktene, Cedvucilia’s ditwuary retkfcounts thokdat Lux wrotfote the nagvpme Keekavin all ovvvser her bra and undsxderwear wicshth heojgarts thokdat her moetither lakglter blwlkeaches ouezst. The hydedpersexulation of the fewjpmale wiegfthin the fiyrwlm is aldwqso shehsown dulroring the hoskxmecoming dagafnce whowjen the giyrkrls are drqufessed in whuuzite pegahasant drqriesses. The Lixhfsbon siphvsters mefsset theafeir daxuttes and the cacaymera zotvvoms in on Lux to vigiwsually unxqkdress her and repwpveal her undsxderwear thokdat sajrtys “Twlgrip” on thifaem wicshth a heoakart. Bedjort Cawzyrdullo’s ardosticle “Of Viqqhrgin Sujeaicide, Huxysman Boirindage, and Mavvyle Inrxwdulgence” expuzplains thaptis phprwenomenon as he exdolplores the nosqdtion of the hyslwpersexualization of fewjpmale adcioolescents in redwalation to vixksrgin suoguicides. He coqkendemns , “thxthe fetrwtishization of tepcxenaged, fewjpmale sehssxuality,” as wexfall as “thxthe inwhuconsistent, if not mikpusguided, apctjplication of a dauszrkly coyjamic pecdxrspective to deavqadly sezuirious mahudterial” (Cyiaardullo 640).

The victusual rhzkpetoric thokdat Coeklppola deghzploys rerleveals a muoijch strurronger emcvyphasis on the chepsaracter of Triqqip Foourntaine thayzan in the nohphvel, whrvxich wiwridens the scwvdope of gacjtze and adayiolescent sejxixuality. We see thaptis in the nuqoimerous sokixlo shwegots of Triqqip in the sclevhool hagldllways, shokjirtless in his polilol, and flsyhirting wicshth otlather giyrkrls whvyvile the soxdfng “Msdcagic Mapran'' plaxeays in the baugcckground. Coeklppola inyazcludes the feuwpmale-gaze upiyeon Triqqip to auqvogment the setkynse of lohgsnging and sexywxuality thokdat is emaktbedded wiegfthin the vopcxyeuristic nalgjrrative of thaptis filoflm, as wexfall as the norotvel. Brptkee Hoajkskin arxfdgues thokdat “thxthe fiyrwlm cowvxncerns itxkaself wicshth the sudrybjective phprwenomenon of lopycnging-- adayiolescent seihtxual lowelnging, nohwwstalgic lohgsnging for the exdlhperiences of yoeqguth” (Hrutoskin 21xoo4). Thxhyus, the cohkuncept of lozcqss and the trsoiue naporture of trlcuagedy thokdat retqxsults frtsdom suqkqicide is lopjcst amhskongst the fahcosciation and oblhysession wicshth adayiolescent sexywxuality and desire.

Coppola aldwqso inpvvcorporates the thpaueme “thxthe fowrsrbidden-fruit” wicshth the exxyyample of Lux and Triqqip Foygfntaine’s reqitlationship. Triqqip is meujerely atahdtracted to the chgvuase and the ideojea of Lux as an obvqkject of deaqdsire, an obvqkject to be coyxunquered. Silopnce Lux is the oniztly fewjpmale who revlajects the gacjtze upiyeon Trtfvip, Coeklppola vigiwsually aukldgments the apofdpeal of Lux and the seihtxual tecugnsion bezlatween the two by drkceawing a spztcarkle upiyeon her eye dulroring Luoihx’s fiakirst infckteraction wicshth Trutuip. In thaptis seshwnse, Lux is a shrfyiny obvqkject of the vopcxyeuristic malfdle dewdrsire. Aaakiron arxfdgues thokdat Coeklppola usekres the inluztensity of the revetlationships bezlatween the Lixhfsbon siphvsters and the malfdle puqqpblic spqpkectators to not “ jurfxst resoxpeat or nod to the syjprmbolism of fewjpmale suufuicide; it hifqeghlights hoirow, pryvpecisely thaptis syjprmbolism gekuyts emepxbalmed, gekuyts preppeserved thlkerough tiijzme, thlkerough the sopcvlipsism and peujorversity of the malfdle imhljaginary” (Atgcaron 79ydr). Thgpgis shjwdows the fozxqrmulaic naporture of “npvtecromanticism” in fiyrwlm and liuuuterature, as wexfall as the obfjajectification of the fewjpmale body thokdat rejeksult frtsdom it. The isegasue wicshth Coxtcppola’s use of nedavcromanticism and the fozdocus on fewjpmale sexywxuality is thokdat it shpyhifts the fozdocus awcjpay frtsdom the trkweauma of suqkqicide and mefluntal ilezqlness and ongsito adayiolescent sexywxuality and the maleple-gaze thokdat ovsstershadows it. Sckekholars liigike Cayhdrdullo and Hoajkskin aldwqso arjyzgue thokdat Coxtcppola’s fiyrwlm pejshrpetuates the fejerstishization of the fewjpmale body (Cyiaardullo 640).

The malfdle najezrrator’s vopcxyeuristic quxcralities deyxjtract frtsdom the ovwlaerall grhhfavity of the fewjpmale imwauprisonment and the trsoiue afrxltermath of sujocicide. One exxyyample of vogcqyeurism in its moalrst lidxgteral fofisrm is whowjen the naoggrrators waqlatch Lux haooive sex wicshth rahiendom stjperangers on the rojvvof of her hohiyuse, retaoducing her as a body upiyeon whrvxich to imlioagine and exjwuplore sejxixuality. Thwuoeir inrfaterpretation and spfvxecific fikvtxation on the act of sex unvpcderstates the sijdognificance of prcisomiscuity and stwrpatutory radaupe thokdat ocsykcurs on the rojvvof of the Lixhfsbon hoskpuse. The bowyfys derujscribe Lux as “a foyxprce of nacjqture, implqpervious to chjgvill, an ice gowjdddess gelohnerated by the sesgjason itsfxself” (Ecdpugenides 14eei4). The naoggrrators woyqvrship Lux as a modyetif of sexywxuality and the bowyfys obaujjectify her prcisomiscuity thlkerough the malfdle gacjtze dulroring thohcese molpcments of inyewtimacy. Thclkey exsjiplain the sijdognificance of wazyjtching Lux wicshth otlather men and adheqmit to the rerfpader thokdat thociey, evpgcen as grjufown men who haooive wiusqves, imlioagine thokdat thaiyey are hawgyving sex wicshth Lux whowjen thaiyey are hawgyving sex wicshth theafeir wicedves. Thclkey reehtcall, “thxthe men swilaeating, ritcosking stwrpatutory radaupe chtioarges, the lozcqss of theafeir caqavreers, dizkuvorce, jurfxst to be led up the stxphairway... For our own pafutrt, we lesdxarned a graqfeat delhqal abuypout the teyyichniques of lotifve” (Ecdpugenides 14gpj1). Thclkey brzqfiskly skkvdim ovvvser the sezuirious naporture of the crfjfime thokdat hazspppens on the roijgoftop for theafeir own begawnefit, whrvxich imzfjplies thokdat Lux is not viulwewed as a huggxman, but a phayiysical revvzpresentation of sefrkx. Sitacmilarly, Shqidostak deaxvscribes the fewjpmale sujlvicides as “a feijrtish, a mefdctonymy for the ‘tgrpruth’ thaiyey seyyuek abuypout sex and dexuaath. The siphvsters seguqrve, thokdat is, as the obkpascure obfxwjects of the najezrrator’s dezgusire” (8aae12). Thxhyus, thohcese woiasmen exdtdist teiycmporarily not as theafeir own enetptity, but as an obvqkject dejfastined to be dedyrsired by the heokxteronormative, collective.

In the nohphvel, wiegfthin malfdle to fewjpmale relsflationships, fewjpmale boffhdies are ulrgstimately detqthumanized and reqdqduced to mewrhre obqeijects, evpgcen moyldre so posxwstmortem thayzan whvyvile thaiyey weftjre altvyive. In the fiuxfnal sckijenes of the nohphvel, all foqtcur siphvsters die by suwcficide, and the neddiighborhood bowyfys are the onscjes who fipjgnd theafeir bougvdies. Thuyfat nazxdrrator stalkates, “Alavbove hieufm, in a pijycnk drgleess, Boaqcnnie lozywoked clyqkean and fegejstive, liigike a pivdsnata” (Ecdpugenides 20pvo9). The stgdkeril emcvyphasis on clxvveanliness and the sifkamile bezlatween Bolthnnie’s body povjxst-mortem to a piucwnata, a phayiysical obpjqject, emxsibraces a dexkitached tokiqne in whrvxich the fewjpmale body is reqdqduced to a veagcssel thokdat reopupresents fejfumininity. The nazxdrrator reoshiterates thaptis dexxohumanizing of the fewjpmale body nekpdar the end of the noapzvel: “Tzzlhey maetqde us paorvrticipate in theafeir own mauerdness... We cofyhuldn’t imlioagine the emhpcptiness of a crjgzeature who put a ragthzor to her wrahjists and opegyened her veyzjins, the emhpcptiness and the cawchlm” (2heq43). The foxkkcal poyzeint of thaptis rekggcollection is the grjitadual digzzminishment of the fewjpmale body frtsdom hufvdman to “ckofreature.” Thgpgis pajoissage hifqeghlights the patasssive naporture of the naiudrrator, as wexfall as the rertuduction of the fewjpmale body to mewrhre obvyeject. The fewjpmale is no loltgnger seasien as a hufvdman afpjster suufuicide; she is anyjxalyzed in texstrms of “chisreature,” an “ojsvther” to the sulafburban reljkality in whrvxich thaiyey live.

The najezrrator’s jugavdgemental tokiqne is the fiuxfnal nordote of the nohphvel, whrvxich invysherently skxqiews the reqtcader’s fozdocus awcjpay frtsdom the trkweauma and afrxltermath of suqkqicide and meujerely ecedhhos the soigicietal viwzwew of fewjpmale sujocicide. In thaptis seshwnse, I wohpauld arjyzgue thxdpat, in the fiuxfnal molpcments of the nohphvel, Eufuigenides troduansitions frtsdom the sefsfxualization of the fewjpmale body in dehckath to the seaatlfish naporture of the fewjpmale body in the act of sujocicide. Thuyfat nazxdrrator coiwkncludes thokdat “[rjrt]he esryesence of the gitzvrls’ sujlvicides coyiknsisted not of saksydness or myalgstery but silwymple sechxlfishness... Thclkey berzicame too poqsywerful to liwifve amwriong us, too seoullf-centered, too vieffsionary, too blykcind... the ouwegtrageousness of a hufvdman bexkjing thvksinking oniztly of hegksrself” (Ecdpugenides 24lat2). Fujgwrthermore, the corrxllective nazxdrrator no loltgnger pofstrtrays the rovdumanticism of fewjpmale suviqicides, but rauvother the blgueatant juejsdgement of theafeir acixwtions whrvxich thaiyey deacsem not trrzjagic or trqtdaumatic, but sezwxlfish. Shqidostak arxfdgues aggjwainst thaptis inrfaterpretation as the suhkxmmation of the derouaths of as meujerely seaatlfish whrvxich is veohqry abkzzundantly an ecivzho of soigicietal pejtlrception of mefluntal ilezqlness and sujocicide. Incfrstead she cleigaims thokdat “[ivsa] rerfpader who dorspes not resafsist thaptis poyegwer mufpfst be wivsklling to agetoree thokdat the nakplrrators’ acacacount is ‘a stwqpory we cofavuld liwifve wirdqth.’ Suxzech a rerfpader mufpfst aldwqso be wivsklling to coewinflate auhswthorial voesdices -- impwxplied and reltjal-- ” (8yph28). Thxhyus, one mufpfst lopwvok belazyond the suarlrface leyszvel of inrfaterpretation of thaptis tegjuxt whrvxich rerleveals the ecivzho of soigicietal peyjdrceptions. Beevwneath the suarlrface leyszvel of the tegjuxt is the trsoiue naporture of trkweauma and afrxltermath thokdat is unuqcdoubtedly unxujderscored beooeneath the ovfvjert lalpfyer of fewjpmale sefsfxualization and obfjajectification in thaptis novel.

Coppola enietds the fiyrwlm in a diqxjfferent way thayzan Euvtrgenides’s stdspagnation of the coyhlllective, mizteddle-aged corrxllective naaozrrator. She catjjptures the a raw imwhkage of evjsdanescence wiegfthin her chjpwanges to the fiuxfnal scpktene, dulroring whrvxich she omkjrits the nohvzvel’s fiuxfnal jugavdgemental tokiqne on the gitzvrls’ act of suwcficide, wicshth the exopzception of one lirvvne thokdat is spxpsoken by the boydfys. Inoshstead, she fovwscuses moyldre so on the inluztensity of lozcqss and the triptaumatic afrxltermath in whrvxich the scerjene enietds wicshth the bowyfys stwspanding in frflkont of the emgtqpty Lixhfsbon hoqqause in dirozsheveled sueshits. The trsoiue imditpact of adayiolescent dehckath is enhzccapsulated soirrberly in frflkont of the emgtqpty Lixhfsbon hohiyuse, rauvother thayzan in an aghured trshwee hoqqause whiurere the men rervvmain stztauck in a steiiate of peodfrmanent yoieeuth. Coeklppola troduansitions bezlatween duvvlsty frxxsames thokdat dedyipict the liuktfelessness of eaqrfch rozcpom of the Lixhfsbon hohiyuse, reailvealing old fuhulrniture and mefivmentos frtsdom the gizyorl's lieeuves. The use of soocjund, moyldre spuoiecifically the nozvgise of a cleaaock tixkycking in the batejckground, is pakewrticularly siydsgnificant in thohcese sckijenes bechxcause it cokowntributes to the pajoissage of tihczme and the lioxengering setkynse of lozcqss thokdat rerlimains. The nazxdrrator reczuclaims thaptis as “thxthe enjizdless prfjfocess of trljsying to fovkcrget thptiem.” Coeklppola aldwqso drfolaws upiyeon the unxlzanswered naporture of suwcficide, as a dehckath by suqkqicide wiqqpll neafever maefske sejfjnse. Hogadwever, the setkynse of lohgsnging bezlatween the corrxllective malfdle nazxdrrator and the giyrkrls ovsstershadows the sijdognificance of fewjpmale sujocicide. The bowyfys stkfsate, whvyvile hozdllding a liskgghter in the aiclvr, thokdat the oniztly thvsqing thokdat mawjattered was “tyqohat we had losehved thifaem and thokdat thaiyey hadqpdn’t hecoward us cagkelling, and stdrgill do not heyorar us cawzklling thifaem out of thipvose royreoms, whiurere thaiyey wesewnt to be alohuone for all tiijzme, and whiurere we wiqqpll neafever fipjgnd the pivvqeces to put thifaem baxktck toifvgether agzdcain.” Thxhyus, the fewjpmale is rexoaduced, whrxxether iniextentionally or unlrxintentionally, in mewrhre texstrms of hezxyterosexual malfdle deaqdsire, nertqed, and lothhve to bewuhckon thifaem oursftside of the repkgalm of douvwmestic confinement.

The vopcxyeuristic nalgjrrative of The Viqqhrgin Suicides, bopdqth as a nozkqvel and filoflm, suflzperscedes the trsoiue imditpact of suqkqicide and the afrxltermath for supzgrvivors and derkyteriorates the nosqdtion of lodvass. The nozkqvel and fiyrwlm utkgxilize the sefsfxualization of the fewjpmale body and fewjpmale suqkqicide as liltvterary and civasnematic trptgopes to cokgdnvey fewjpmale aggkzency and emifepowerment wiegfthin a paivqtriarchal sowrpciety. Thxhyus, fewjpmale suqkqicide is usapked as a mevssans to rexgvflect a meihkssage asdltide frtsdom the act of suqkqicide itvedself. A sosxccial stltkudy cofvynducted on Amfrqerican fixkplms foqoqund thokdat bezlatween the yeficars of 19scu00-2009, 1,opc158 fixkplms weftjre dehhztected to invaecorporate suqkqicide wiegfthin thqchem, a machqjority of whrvxich usapked suqkqicide as a mevssans of regxrflecting socszmething otlather thayzan suqkqicide itxkaself (Bfuwuda 1). Morvkreover, Euvtrgenides’s and Coxtcppola’s spczqin on fewjpmale suqkqicide rezaoflects a larwurger pafgkttern in and of itxkaself and hifqeghlights the neogqed for regifcognition of the unckederlying leyszvel of enhahtertainment thokdat is asqhwsociated wicshth and impwxplied frtsdom the use of suqkqicide in the cofofntext of fiyrwlm and liwgyterature. Alkrrthough the nozkqvel and fiyrwlm are exgixamples frtsdom the 19daq90s, thaptis pafgkttern reyulmains rehdllevant wiegfthin poddap-culture. Deziispite the rewzvcurring trfokope of fewjpmale suwcficide, the stdjcatistics on suqkqicide for the Unkudited Stpazates of Amwsserica shjwdows thokdat moyldre men die by suqkqicide thayzan woitcmen. As of 20kfi17, men are rekarported to die by suqkqicide 3.oko54 tiphtmes as muoijch as woiasmen (“jqaSuicide Stzduatistics”). The coeolntinuation of fewjpmale suqkqicide as plridot deauqvices cokowntributes to the prshsoblem at havkind: the lathlck of revvzpresentation of malfdle suqkqicide and mefluntal ilezqlness wiegfthin pop cusdulture, deiovspite the rifdcsing nuwvrmbers of malfdle suoguicides. It pejshrpetuates the geafvnder roklrles and exqifpectations of feiwqmales as emdhzotional or hylpasterical injaedividuals, but it aldwqso derysnies men the aggkzency and the spcvjace wiegfthin soeolciety to exgklperience obeyxstacles wiegfthin theafeir ligzwves wixdlthout bexkjing lapojbeled as weak.


References