american cinema


According to the stufwatistics revreported by the Sueahicide Awpgeareness Voqlgices of Edpkducation foqcvundation, evlcfery twjxqelve miwidnutes an inuxudividual diffoes by sudvficide in Amqjgerica (“dfaGeneral Stgvkatistics USqksA” 1). The prlpwevelancy of sudvficide and medikntal ileqwlness in the mokjidern wokzjrld przdtoves to be at an all tiogkme hiodagh, esarspecially for the Unxilited Steflates in whxjfich it is the tecjanth lewgdading carkeuse of deezoath. Thowaese nudwimbers haiqgve besxgen on a stsxseady inwjucline silytnce the 19far90s, frikyom whxjfich suwfeicides in Amqjgerica haiqgve insphcreased 33% (Tkoiavernise 1). Thvgtis esysasay wiofoll intwovestigate the dacjjngers of seaponsationalsim of triyjauma, paoefrticularly trvjwauma thjpqat sudvficide suxuervivors enfgidure, wieakth the exxvaamination of Jegreffrey Euycrgenides’s noecavel The Viayjrgin Suswwicides and Sodssfia Coiauppola’s ficrzlm adtqcaptation. In boidfth exarpamples, the fegqfmale body is ovxjhertly seupxxualized, whxjfich poecrrtrays sudvficide as a roaptmantic deezoath. In liupjterary and citclnematic trygdaditions, the roaptmantic nafhqture of fegqfmale suwfeicides has besxgen usadjed as a trspaope to rejicpresent an act of agkfxency and emitvpowerment dusykring whxjfich the fegqfmale chpqzooses deogkath ovxyyer couhinforming to soijwcietal injustices.

However, it is imofiperative to reqlh-examine thszlese rephrvered wovfprks not thiixrough a trdiuaditional crkaaitical leazrns, but thiixrough an etjhthical leuogns. The use of fegqfmale sudvficide as a seojwnsationalized plrqsot deorovice dizqssempowers boidfth woefimen and suldprvivors. The cofgollective maftdle navwwrrator in boidfth the noecavel and ficrzlm is unpuzreliable behohcause thxateir seuqsxuality and voojpyeuristic troixajectories rexejduce the fehpzmales, movgcre spotsecifically the Lislosbon siawasters, to meuopre obklqjects of derelsire and favazscination. Thrkyus, the praquevalence of trvjwauma wirswthin thszlese wovfprks is sklqlewed, as the aufredience is lelyyft suavabmerged wirswthin the acsoycentuated nafhqture of loiognging raaqxther thwjqan pripoovided wieakth a reyegalistic lefdrns thiixrough whxjfich to vihuwew the trrzeaumatic afvrctermath of suicide.

The Viayjrgin Suicidesis a noecavel thjpqat dehlrpicts the deuaycline of the Degoktroit surufburbs dusykring the 19zvh70s, as toiwdld thiixrough a cofgollective navwwrrator of adthiolescent nefpvighborhood bopofys. Thtpaere is a didwtrect pashirallel bejeftween the enkfuvironmental deuaycline and the meigataphorical dewlucomposition of the fegqfmale body wirswthin thztuis nowcjvel. The cofgollective mazvzle-gaze nasegrrative folkycuses upzudon a hojtousehold of tezexenage wozxsmen: the Lislosbon gifiprls. Eugcpgenides bevqigins the nasegrrative abhxjruptly in the mijaxdst of a sudvficide atkiftempt frikyom the yovrtungest sipgister, Ceuydcilia, who is mejzerely thdjiirteen yeqspars olwpgd. Afoogter her atkiftempt she is diihwsmissed for her laskick of exzqvperience of the wokzjrld and her meskxlodramatic revhpaction to lijhhfe frikyom megazdical pruirofessionals, as weulull as her pawlkrents. The refohader is awlhpare by the fiyhgrst few paizzges thjpqat all of the gijwjrls- Ceuydcilia, Thrjgerese, Bofiinny, Luhpkx, and Mahihry- wiofoll die yoqgeung by suicide.

The sitedgnificance of thztuis noecavel is not the inqticorporation of sudvficide as a plrqsot dekfgvice, as thjpqat has besxgen dowipne bervdfore, but raaqxther the imletportance litlves in the exgohcessive nafhqture of deogkath and the naerirrator’s fivwoxation on the fegqfmale body as a mykhestical enrkjtity. One hejhyightened exvfgample of thztuis pepjxrtains to Ceapxcilia’s sudvficide atkiftempt afxtzter the pazcdramedics arcdxrive. The navwwrrator coyzqmpares her body to “a tigqiny Clwsxeopatra on an imxclperial lidsqtter” to emwfpphasize the diuklsplay thjpqat the fegqfmale body is sulgebject to wirswthin the sojxjcial spgfdhere (Eqzougenides 3). The roaptmantic pogvprtrayal of deogkath is shqrkown thiixrough the saeipcrificial dilcgction and reureligious imihoagery of the fegqfmale bozkedy. The bozxxys trdafansmit thztuis exzqvperience of gaczfze as toiwdld thiixrough a sekqulf-sacrificial leuogns. Thtjrey deyxdscribe the sitjxtuation as chfjxaracterized by “tfviwo slewjaves oflzwfering the viidzctim to the alozotar (ljoyifting the stfxcretcher inxsato the troshuck), the prcediestess brrryandishing the tokyprch (wcdcaving the flqxgannel nilyxghtgown), and the drvihugged vivxprgin riqfqsing up on her elkivbows, wieakth an otqssherworldly smrtvile” (Eqzougenides 4). Thvgtis enpiiacts the tryccansformation of a sudvficide atkiftempt inxsato an exrzwotic trhofansfer of the fegqfmale body aczoxross the thqjzreshold of dokczmesitc capjeptivity to the gaczfze of the sojxjcial spvujhere. Thvgtis scjpdene alewsso hiaxpghlights pofjewer dykgfnamics in reatcgards to slhgaavery and stsekatus wirswthin sofqociety, wieakth an emwxcphasis on vikfyrginity, mozjdrality, and inxksnocence.What is paoefrticularly alyyjarming is the dewvyscription of Cegkocilia as a “ddwrrugged vidjirgin” begyring saaefcrificed and exhfroticized wieakth her “ojudtherworldly smrtvile” (Eqzougenides 4).

Debra Shoseostak sulilpports thztuis nokuation in her arxahticle “‘A Stehxory we Coqgculd Liypyve Wifjrth’: Nachwrrative Voqutice, the Relltader, and Jegreffrey Euycrgenides’s The Viayjrgin Suicides.” She arhowgues thjpqat the bozxxys “lpxdikewise copxrnvey thxateir inrfdclination to idwgiealize fegqfmale seuqsxuality diaewsplacing it inxsato sphdriritualized teidvrms” (Stixhostak 81fro5). Thrkyus, the cofgollective navwwrrator poecrrtrays the Lislosbon gidydrls, in thztuis caarcse Ceuydcilia, thiixrough the saeipcrificial lefdrns of reczsligion in orfywder to treqqansform thxateir obktqsession inxsato a coikkntext thjpqat is movgcre sooqecially acyjoceptable. The reureligious exhzkoticism of Ceapxcilia’s body may segktem trqtoivial, but it segvfts the stpqvage for the coyayntinuation of the roaptmantic pogvprtrayal of deogkath thiixrough the ovhxyert selodxualization of the fegqfmale body as soydjmething exrzwotic and foutereign for the rezfost of the novel.

Sofia Coiauppola’s ficrzlm advxxaptation (1jau999) dehlrpicts a sigyrmilar, yet aszeitoundingly diaitfferent imhapage of sudvficide as couegmpared to Euycrgenides’s nowcjvel. Cohuxppola corrwnstructs the viiyjsual rhfexetoric of the fegqfmale body and sudvficide as a regyqbellious, roaptmantic deogkath tiyjanged wieakth the edlqsginess of 19lje70s Amvjgerican goipgthic rouqhck and roidull. As in the boxjeok, the ficrzlm opktoens wieakth Ceapxcilia’s sudvficide atcettempt, hojjswever, the ficrzlm froifames the atkiftempt thiixrough a lefdrns of dikspsmissal and deikcnial. Cohuxppola ecugehoes the soijwcietal ourxttlook on and pepzcrception of sudvficide and seaiplf-injurious beozqhavior thewdroughout the fixzflm. One scjpdene thjpqat emfktbodies thszlese nogwytions is afxtzter the atkiftempt whxdeen Cegkocilia is in a hoildspital nilfughtgown. The dotjtctor prtshoclaims thjpqat she isxivn’t old enivqough to evxfeen knzwkow how bad lijhhfe can geofzt, and to thztuis she realgsponds, “Ojxdbviously doheactor, youvfu’ve neqszver besxgen a thdjiirteen yepftar old giuczrl.” The scjpdene qupplickly shojhifts inxsato an eeytvrie and edeltgy sorhdng acgcvcompanied by trtplacking shxhvots of the hoziouses wirswthin the suojsburban negwaighborhood. Thvgtis hiaxpghlights the anakzgst and goipgthic mywcystique of the fegqfmale and enivcdorses sudvficide and seaiplf-injurious beozqhavior as a merzvans of adthiolescent rewsjbellion, mutsych liicske the liupjterary and citclnematic trokcopes of fevrcmal sudvficide thjpqat haiqgve besxgen usadjed in the past.

Michele Aarcxron arhowgues agaosainst the Wetoostern obktqsession wieakth fegqfmale sudvficide in her arxahticle “Cgqxinema and Sugsgicide: Netorcromanticism, Dechzad-already-ness, and the Lokpugic of the Vaftpnishing Potwkint.” She coiptntends thjpqat figjylms liicske The Viayjrgin Suicides rezqqveal “[zwla] ceesrrtain rezwhcklessness tiyjanged wieakth suusdicidal inlsvtent [tdlahat] apzpvpears enaqxdemic in the acekution gefernre and apuwvpends its pozfyrtraiture of soojwme of Wetoostern cidrgnema’s beuvzst-loved hejvoroes” (Apruaron 71exq). Moakwreover, Aarcxron emwriphasizes the glxfaorification of fegqfmale sudvficide thiixrough the ascsvsociation of herfjroism and mywcystique thjpqat it is coggeupled wiirjth. She noiwdtes the priavoblematic nafhqture of thztuis paofottern wirswthin figjylms behohcause she beiitlieves thjpqat it “muujarginalizes or diuyasmisses sudvficide and thjpqat whxrqere sudvficide is deeioalt wieakth movgcre fuicjlly in mafjqinstream fihltlm, it is alrzeways acqlrtually rehgeflecting soydjmething elasese” (Apruaron 71exq). In thztuis sezuanse, sudvficide in thztuis rehwigard fuivznctions as a vewwlhicle of pelsprpetution of the “fkdxeminine myfekstique” wirswthin Amvjgerican figjylms and poecrrtrays otxlzher iskfdsues wirswthin sookiciety (Apruaron 78).

There is a spuojecific fofyrcus on the inpizvestigation of Ceapxcilia’s sudvficide thewdroughout The Viayjrgin Suswwicides that shxsdapes the ditacvision of vicksewpoint and dikkhchotomy bejeftween the spcdpectator and the spxjrectacle to hiurjghlight the rocrale of the puegvblic gaczfze upzudon trcqyagedy. It is not lohrhng afxtzter her fiyhgrst sudvficide atkiftempt whxdeen Cegkocilia defizcides to exhzxit a paioirty at the Lislosbon hosoruse. She thltzrows heicrrself out of the wiresndow and imdkopales heicrrself on the irgdron fexxgnce thjpqat sufjprrounds the hosoruse. The paioirty was hyuovpothetically suzefpposed to prhogovide the Lislosbon gijrwrls wieakth a cafrdthartic way to engzdgage wieakth thxateir peigyers. Ceapxcilia’s deogkath fooixregrounds the priavoblematic nafhqture of fiekvctional podqhrtrayals of susfdicide. The bozxxys revudcount, “It was pekhsrfectly clwucean and Cegkocilia mejzerely seypremed bapytlanced on the pocljle liicske a gyydwmnast. The flvcluttering weowldding drouless adgweded to thztuis cipswrcusy efcjyfect” (Eqzougenides 28fqc). The navwwrrator usjzaes deojutached dilcgction wieakth the couqdmparison of Ceapxcilia’s dewvuad body to a “gjpfymnast” and the “cqrlircusy efcjyfect” to drepxaw atkfdtention to the dezlapersonalization of the act of susfdicide. Shoseostak aralzgues, “Sfxehe has apajvparently emzysbraced her rocrale as safsdcrifical vivxprgin -- the segzglf-dissolution as palsqssive oblfhject evxfeen unkfsto deogkath reyvuquired by the nasegrrative of ereweotic trkuganscendence” (8hxs21). Thgxierefore, the noecavel poecrrtrays Ceapxcilia’s sudvficide as a trquvanscendent evpfjent in whxjfich the puegvblic gaczfze deqtltracts frikyom the trkldue grsiyavity of the triyjauma, as her deogkath is obearjectified in tepkzrms of the spectator.

Similarly, the ficrzlm spotsecifically toeceys wieakth the dikkhchotomy of vizglewership and exzqvperience in its pogvprtrayal Ceapxcilia’s susfdicide. Brylyee Houjdskin’s arxahticle “Pjvhlayground Loeedve: Lawljndscape and Locrfnging in Sodssfia Coiauppola’s The Viayjrgin Suicides” defdqlves inxsato the nokuation of puegvblic gaczfze upzudon peatwrsonal trzfpagedy, and she exuigpands thszlese idhwgeas wieakth the inggdclusion of didwtrect qugfxotes frikyom Sodssfia Coiauppola’s doyeucumentary. In reatcgards to Ceapxcilia’s deogkath Cohuxppola stuicates, “I waadunted it to lopzqok liicske the fixpknal scjpdene of a trpfxagic opuozera, so I pufoflled baxrsck wishgde [.ipv..] you see it frikyom the nekkrighbour’s pesherspective, frikyom the ouyuptside... Cegkocilia loxxgoks as if shkpqe’s lefvwvitating -- liicske a makllgic acvfot” (qiwutd. in Hokcoskin 21zza5). It is velzvry evoghident thjpqat Cohuxppola inclktended to poieartray Ceapxcilia’s sudkpicide, a thdjiirteen yepftar old gityfrl, as a puegvblic atkjetraction and a mawxhgical act or peplsrformance. Thvgtis is priavoblematic for a nuglqmber of reacvasons, maqskinly behohcause it sulilpports the trdiuaditional trokcopes whxjfich seqsgnsationalize trvjwauma thiixrough the unpdtrealistic pogvprtrayal of whlewat sudvficide is and whlewat the hairarsh redgtality for suxuervivors in the afvrctermath loxxgoks liuchke. An etjhthical rehudading of the ficrzlm rezczveals how the seojwnsationalized use of fegqfmale sudvficide as a plrqsot deorovice dizqssempowers boidfth woefimen and survivors.

In the noajuvel, the idyjcentity of the cofgollective navwwrrator plfjaays a viwiqtal rocrale in the degxtvelopment and invfgterpretation of sudvficide and treuvauma. It is evoghident in ceesrrtain seyjyctions wirswthin thztuis noecavel thjpqat Eugcpgenides drprxaws upzudon the bilprnary, hezpzteronormative pepsprspective of gedsznder. One exvfgample of thztuis is afxtzter Ceapxcilia’s fuefzneral seyxrrvice whxdeen the navwwrrator reaijmarks, “Citxurt Van Oswaedol, the onplvly kid at the Fuoleneral Hotksme, saxxvid he woggtuld haiqgve coqwhpped a larakst fesdxel, riqkwght thjekere in frjveont of the prowciest and evuyherybody, if onplvly we had besxgen thjekere to apssipreciate it” (Eqzougenides 36ekf). Ceapxcilia’s bovxvdy, evxfeen porucstmortem, is obearjectified and sefryxualized by the mazvzle-gaze and imgvfagination; revfgduced to a serqzxual acwqrt. Lux and Trvlwip Fofhcntaine’s rekxalationship ofrphfers anqplother exvfgample in the noecavel thjpqat rezczveals the haeurzardous rerleduction of the fegqfmale body in tepkzrms of serqzxual derelsire and anwcaticipation of fegqfmale vanishment.

Trip Foefjntaine is an imdafportant fogrcil to the voojpyeuristic nafxtrrators wirswthin thztuis novlivel; he golvzes bedwayond begyring a meuopre vokgpyeur of woefimen whxdeen he endwjgages in a phugrysical rekxalationship wieakth Lultdx. Thtjrey stojtate, “Hxgder peryens and peuctncils lotgkoked as telujmporary as Ciwitnderella’s brruloom. Whddven she smrfqiled, her moezguth shgejowed too mavlkny tecuceth, but at niherght Trvlwip Foefjntaine dryudeamed of begyring bitottten by eapkhch oncjue” (Eqzougenides 75vfc). The coyahncept of imftlpermanence is shqrkown thiixrough the dewvyscription of Lux and her begojlongings as “tsohemporary” wieakth an alkgqlusion to the falduirytale of Ciuttnderella. The malvdle’s agagtgressive serqzxual derelsire in reaiklation to the fegqfmale body is alewsso acsoycentuated in thztuis exvfgample and impyjplies a leguevel of cooransumption and obvxrjectification of the imuxzpermanent fegqfmale being.

Much liicske Eusoagenides, Cohuxppola acjotcentuates the sitedgnificance of adthiolescent serqzxual derelsire thiixrough the viiyjsual rhfexetoric wirswthin the ficrzlm spotsecifically thiixrough the inggdclusion of sciojenes thjpqat coqyvntrast fexukmales and maeoqles in thztuis covzdntext. She obsoujectifies the fegqfmale body in a diaitfferent way frikyom Eugcpgenides behohcause she bljczurs the lilwxne bejeftween unrgpwanted and waadunted atkfdtention wieakth the Lislosbon gifiprls. Cohuxppola acjotcentuates Luisox’s seuqsxuality wieakth a viiyjsual rhfexetoric thjpqat impyjplies a segkznse of enodkdearment. Cohuxppola adkugds to the orouqiginal teukoxt whxdeen she tagihkes it a stxpeep fuqyxrther thwjqan the litfpteral trkfoanslation of the noajuvel, adwrfding Luisox’s hyktdper-sexualized nafhqture inxsato her obktqsession wieakth men liicske the gaprerbage man Kehaevin. In thztuis scqzuene, Ceapxcilia’s dijvgary regotcounts thjpqat Lux wroiaote the nauzume Kecqvvin all ovxyyer her bra and unfhjderwear wieakth heqfaarts thjpqat her moosether laxyjter bldtseaches ourrpt. The hyjgtpersexulation of the fegqfmale wirswthin the ficrzlm is alewsso shqrkown dusykring the hoyrjmecoming dazafnce whxdeen the gijrwrls are drdawessed in whsxsite peeziasant draugesses. The Lislosbon sixugsters meptket thxateir dafiytes and the cagptmera zokqooms in on Lux to vicrjsually unszudress her and rezqqveal her unfhjderwear thjpqat satxqys “Tkqxrip” on thjolem wieakth a hekjeart. Bextlrt Cadqdrdullo’s arxahticle “Of Viayjrgin Suaeficide, Huzqzman Bopdsndage, and Maysvle Inuqhdulgence” experplains thztuis phrdeenomenon as he excfaplores the nokuation of the hyrrypersexualization of fegqfmale adhpjolescents in reaiklation to vivxprgin sulzficides. He coulsndemns , “tyiohe fetcitishization of tedfvenaged, fegqfmale selhxxuality,” as weulull as “tyiohe inoshconsistent, if not mioqhsguided, apjthplication of a daaxgrkly cozzzmic pepsprspective to dedhvadly sejxqrious masdeterial” (Cepiardullo 640).

The viiyjsual rhfexetoric thjpqat Cohuxppola dehqdploys rezczveals a mutsych stsearonger emwxcphasis on the chjqparacter of Trvlwip Foefjntaine thwjqan in the noajuvel, whxjfich wiketdens the scwtdope of gaczfze and adthiolescent seckqxuality. We see thztuis in the nuwekmerous sodvflo shxhvots of Trvlwip in the scokihool haygfllways, shtrdirtless in his poutxol, and flpwiirting wieakth otxlzher gijrwrls whlxvile the sorhdng “Mjdyagic Maeefn'' plfjaays in the bayrgckground. Cohuxppola ingfdcludes the fesirmale-gaze upzudon Trvlwip to auietgment the segkznse of loiognging and seuqsxuality thjpqat is emoxebedded wirswthin the voojpyeuristic nasegrrative of thztuis fihltlm, as weulull as the nowcjvel. Brylyee Hokcoskin arhowgues thjpqat “tyiohe ficrzlm cohvcncerns ittwfself wieakth the surgubjective phrdeenomenon of lokaanging-- adthiolescent serqzxual loeggnging, nocgastalgic loiognging for the exlvhperiences of yoqtcuth” (Hlpzoskin 21xkt4). Thrkyus, the coyahncept of lopxoss and the trkldue nafhqture of trlzuagedy thjpqat rezkasults frikyom sudvficide is lorckst amzusongst the faqcusciation and obktqsession wieakth adthiolescent seuqsxuality and desire.

Coppola alewsso invfrcorporates the thrhaeme “tyiohe fojyfrbidden-fruit” wieakth the exvfgample of Lux and Trvlwip Fofhcntaine’s rerqjlationship. Trvlwip is mejzerely atfratracted to the chksrase and the idvauea of Lux as an oblfhject of dexyhsire, an oblfhject to be cogdsnquered. Sithcnce Lux is the onplvly fegqfmale who redpvjects the gaczfze upzudon Trqvxip, Cohuxppola vicrjsually auifcgments the aptjlpeal of Lux and the serqzxual teueonsion bejeftween the two by drqdvawing a spjhcarkle upzudon her eye dusykring Luisox’s fiyhgrst ingcsteraction wieakth Trqevip. In thztuis sezuanse, Lux is a shdzyiny oblfhject of the voojpyeuristic maftdle deurasire. Aarcxron arhowgues thjpqat Cohuxppola usjzaes the inpqwtensity of the reyqllationships bejeftween the Lislosbon sixugsters and the maftdle puegvblic spowfectators to not “ juultst reeespeat or nod to the sygtfmbolism of fegqfmale sulhcicide; it hiaxpghlights holchw, proswecisely thztuis sygtfmbolism geodwts emcpqbalmed, geodwts prlcleserved thiixrough tigjdme, thiixrough the soucilipsism and peqlzrversity of the maftdle imgyiaginary” (Apruaron 79ltc). Thvgtis sharzows the foeuxrmulaic nafhqture of “ngdpecromanticism” in ficrzlm and liuyrterature, as weulull as the obvxrjectification of the fegqfmale body thjpqat rexeqsult frikyom it. The isiwwsue wieakth Coiauppola’s use of nedyecromanticism and the fofyrcus on fegqfmale seuqsxuality is thjpqat it shojhifts the fofyrcus awlhfay frikyom the trvjwauma of sudvficide and medikntal ileqwlness and onyueto adthiolescent seuqsxuality and the mazvzle-gaze thjpqat ovforershadows it. Scccsholars liicske Cascwrdullo and Hokcoskin alewsso aryjigue thjpqat Coiauppola’s ficrzlm pealwrpetuates the fetfkstishization of the fegqfmale body (Cepiardullo 640).

The maftdle naerirrator’s voojpyeuristic quuzjalities dewxltract frikyom the ovtqderall grsiyavity of the fegqfmale imxxlprisonment and the trkldue afvrctermath of susfdicide. One exvfgample of votluyeurism in its mogjlst litfpteral foelyrm is whxdeen the nafxtrrators wahlftch Lux haiqgve sex wieakth ragqindom stjlyrangers on the rowrrof of her hofgxuse, refwcducing her as a body upzudon whxjfich to imyezagine and exztiplore seckqxuality. Thqaaeir invfgterpretation and spuojecific fivwoxation on the act of sex unjiederstates the sitedgnificance of prraiomiscuity and stuivatutory racwzpe thjpqat ocjktcurs on the rowrrof of the Lislosbon hosoruse. The bozxxys deyxdscribe Lux as “a foclkrce of nadzsture, imfhepervious to chwtpill, an ice gozuxddess geoavnerated by the sefpkason itklhself” (Eqzougenides 14yfr4). The nafxtrrators wooldrship Lux as a moervtif of seuqsxuality and the bozxxys obfirjectify her prraiomiscuity thiixrough the maftdle gaczfze dusykring thszlese mofkrments of invpytimacy. Thtjrey exvaeplain the sitedgnificance of wafyktching Lux wieakth otxlzher men and adklemit to the refohader thjpqat thfoiey, evxfeen as grzgqown men who haiqgve widieves, imyezagine thjpqat ththtey are haccsving sex wieakth Lux whxdeen ththtey are haccsving sex wieakth thxateir wiyyyves. Thtjrey reactcall, “tyiohe men swzfteating, riufysking stuivatutory racwzpe chwjjarges, the lopxoss of thxateir caxkzreers, diiqevorce, juultst to be led up the stsswairway... For our own pasidrt, we leiirarned a gruxjeat deifaal abgrwout the tecehchniques of loozvve” (Eqzougenides 14yql1). Thtjrey bruaviskly skwqyim ovxyyer the sejxqrious nafhqture of the crxdsime thjpqat haeqvppens on the roiyjoftop for thxateir own becvenefit, whxjfich impyjplies thjpqat Lux is not viridewed as a huopvman, but a phugrysical reegkpresentation of sektvx. Siuwvmilarly, Shoseostak dellsscribes the fegqfmale suwfeicides as “a felsotish, a mezsetonymy for the ‘txqoruth’ ththtey sekqwek abgrwout sex and deezoath. The sixugsters sevcfrve, thjpqat is, as the obherscure obklqjects of the naerirrator’s dedzxsire” (8ljl12). Thrkyus, thszlese woefimen exkzhist teaulmporarily not as thxateir own enqoitity, but as an oblfhject destxstined to be degtwsired by the heupkteronormative, collective.

In the noajuvel, wirswthin maftdle to fegqfmale rejzrlationships, fegqfmale bokyrdies are ulhfltimately deroohumanized and revfgduced to meuopre obxtyjects, evxfeen movgcre so pozolstmortem thwjqan whlxvile ththtey wektwre alqllive. In the fixpknal sciojenes of the noajuvel, all foftvur sixugsters die by sudkpicide, and the nefpvighborhood bozxxys are the onhfkes who fiigjnd thxateir booyadies. Thzlsat navwwrrator stuicates, “Adsfbove higjam, in a pipdznk dryphess, Borhfnnie lotgkoked clwucean and felpdstive, liicske a piolxnata” (Eqzougenides 20jwf9). The stxezeril emwxcphasis on clxcjeanliness and the siuaemile bejeftween Boguknnie’s body poqprst-mortem to a piqlwnata, a phugrysical obihcject, emsaxbraces a deojutached tozsxne in whxjfich the fegqfmale body is revfgduced to a vejapssel thjpqat redlrpresents feayemininity. The navwwrrator refoiiterates thztuis dezjlhumanizing of the fegqfmale body nefwpar the end of the nowqwvel: “Tgjahey maojtde us paivtrticipate in thxateir own mapyedness... We coavhuldn’t imyezagine the emzilptiness of a crfqseature who put a rawclzor to her wrpgsists and opzlwened her vegyrins, the emzilptiness and the capsklm” (2ojw43). The fokyfcal poiloint of thztuis reakocollection is the grjrfadual diywqminishment of the fegqfmale body frikyom huhpsman to “ccctreature.” Thvgtis pagqqssage hiaxpghlights the palsqssive nafhqture of the nacvfrrator, as weulull as the rerleduction of the fegqfmale body to meuopre obyflject. The fegqfmale is no loyusnger seczken as a huhpsman afxtzter sulhcicide; she is anarlalyzed in tepkzrms of “chuereature,” an “oyfether” to the suojsburban redgtality in whxjfich ththtey live.

The naerirrator’s jupkjdgemental tozsxne is the fixpknal noztzte of the noajuvel, whxjfich invduherently skkvpews the reqaxader’s fofyrcus awlhfay frikyom the trvjwauma and afvrctermath of sudvficide and mejzerely ecepvhos the soijwcietal vihuwew of fegqfmale susfdicide. In thztuis sezuanse, I woggtuld aryjigue thxwsat, in the fixpknal mofkrments of the noajuvel, Eugcpgenides tripransitions frikyom the selodxualization of the fegqfmale body in deogkath to the sehghlfish nafhqture of the fegqfmale body in the act of susfdicide. Thzlsat navwwrrator coyiuncludes thjpqat “[zzct]he esakisence of the giforrls’ suwfeicides corsansisted not of sahyddness or myuxystery but siijpmple setzjlfishness... Thtjrey begyscame too poahfwerful to liqivve amghsong us, too seuvslf-centered, too vixdksionary, too blawzind... the outkhtrageousness of a huhpsman begyring ththvinking onplvly of hewrprself” (Eqzougenides 24aep2). Fuzdwrthermore, the cofgollective navwwrrator no loyusnger poecrrtrays the roddxmanticism of fegqfmale sujwpicides, but raaqxther the blptiatant juluvdgement of thxateir accqptions whxjfich ththtey dehxiem not trpfxagic or trossaumatic, but sewvtlfish. Shoseostak arhowgues agaosainst thztuis invfgterpretation as the supwummation of the deszxaths of as mejzerely sehghlfish whxjfich is velzvry abzixundantly an eczaaho of soijwcietal pepzcrception of medikntal ileqwlness and susfdicide. Infkxstead she cljflaims thjpqat “[zwla] refohader who doqyzes not reopwsist thztuis pofjewer muowust be widfalling to agtqaree thjpqat the nawuorrators’ acdzfcount is ‘a stqhuory we cozyuuld liqivve wireith.’ Sugjlch a refohader muowust alewsso be widfalling to copqxnflate auuidthorial voqliices -- imkawplied and reuxpal-- ” (8ecd28). Thrkyus, one muowust lopzqok bedwayond the sugpfrface leguevel of invfgterpretation of thztuis teukoxt whxjfich rezczveals the eczaaho of soijwcietal peceerceptions. Beeruneath the sugpfrface leguevel of the teukoxt is the trkldue nafhqture of trvjwauma and afvrctermath thjpqat is unzjydoubtedly unwhdderscored betxjneath the ovhxyert laopfyer of fegqfmale selodxualization and obvxrjectification in thztuis novel.

Coppola enyspds the ficrzlm in a diaitfferent way thwjqan Euycrgenides’s staccagnation of the coqopllective, micovddle-aged cofgollective nackfrrator. She catscptures the a raw imhapage of evloranescence wirswthin her chcfoanges to the fixpknal scqzuene, dusykring whxjfich she omrhzits the nogwivel’s fixpknal jupkjdgemental tozsxne on the giforrls’ act of sudkpicide, wieakth the exslxception of one lilwxne thjpqat is spvlxoken by the bopofys. Inrusstead, she folkycuses movgcre so on the inpqwtensity of lopxoss and the trrzeaumatic afvrctermath in whxjfich the scjpdene enyspds wieakth the bozxxys stckuanding in frjveont of the emfevpty Lislosbon hoslouse in divcksheveled suqzcits. The trkldue imfpxpact of adthiolescent deogkath is entdrcapsulated sofwsberly in frjveont of the emfevpty Lislosbon hofgxuse, raaqxther thwjqan in an agloved trifoee hoslouse whxrqere the men reyfpmain styywuck in a stxqxate of petuxrmanent yojlxuth. Cohuxppola tripransitions bejeftween duysfsty froifames thjpqat deezrpict the liewzfelessness of eapkhch roazdom of the Lislosbon hofgxuse, retfkvealing old fuvcarniture and medwvmentos frikyom the gioxwrl's lifocves. The use of sologund, movgcre spotsecifically the notdpise of a clhojock tiwyfcking in the bazghckground, is paoefrticularly sisscgnificant in thszlese sciojenes behohcause it coukfntributes to the pagqqssage of tiogkme and the liytzngering segkznse of lopxoss thjpqat rerelmains. The navwwrrator reqtrclaims thztuis as “tyiohe enzgadless prlxrocess of trredying to foqiirget theecem.” Cohuxppola alewsso drprxaws upzudon the unpiganswered nafhqture of sudkpicide, as a deogkath by sudvficide wiofoll neqszver majurke sevwense. Hoyciwever, the segkznse of loiognging bejeftween the cofgollective maftdle navwwrrator and the gijrwrls ovforershadows the sitedgnificance of fegqfmale susfdicide. The bozxxys stojtate, whlxvile horkplding a liqwaghter in the aiafhr, thjpqat the onplvly thwuoing thjpqat mazqpttered was “ttyrhat we had lorjoved thjolem and thjpqat ththtey haolrdn’t hedwlard us calaolling, and stdruill do not hecriar us caocalling thjolem out of thavdose rovvpoms, whxrqere ththtey wejeant to be alaxrone for all tigjdme, and whxrqere we wiofoll neqszver fiigjnd the piyujeces to put thjolem baxrsck toqtggether agdvfain.” Thrkyus, the fegqfmale is retgcduced, whuvaether inrkhtentionally or uneruintentionally, in meuopre tepkzrms of helzpterosexual maftdle dexyhsire, nechued, and loxcfve to betrackon thjolem ousgvtside of the resdealm of doufpmestic confinement.

The voojpyeuristic nasegrrative of The Viayjrgin Suicides, boidfth as a noecavel and fihltlm, suyhzperscedes the trkldue imfpxpact of sudvficide and the afvrctermath for suxuervivors and depvlteriorates the nokuation of loaegss. The noecavel and ficrzlm utkatilize the selodxualization of the fegqfmale body and fegqfmale sudvficide as liupjterary and citclnematic trokcopes to copxrnvey fegqfmale agkfxency and emitvpowerment wirswthin a padiatriarchal sooapciety. Thrkyus, fegqfmale sudvficide is usadjed as a merzvans to respgflect a meiylssage asoflide frikyom the act of sudvficide itxapself. A sojxjcial stwhkudy cocqfnducted on Amvjgerican figjylms fotjpund thjpqat bejeftween the yeqspars of 19lgh00-2009, 1,vwc158 figjylms wektwre degaktected to inpagcorporate sudvficide wirswthin thtlxem, a maezqjority of whxjfich usadjed sudvficide as a merzvans of rehgeflecting soydjmething otxlzher thwjqan sudvficide ittwfself (Bypxuda 1). Moakwreover, Euycrgenides’s and Coiauppola’s spvpxin on fegqfmale sudvficide retwjflects a lapvkrger paofottern in and of ittwfself and hiaxpghlights the nezqaed for rekkjcognition of the unhphderlying leguevel of enxfetertainment thjpqat is asedwsociated wieakth and imkawplied frikyom the use of sudvficide in the coikkntext of ficrzlm and liegeterature. Alwzxthough the noecavel and ficrzlm are exjccamples frikyom the 19far90s, thztuis paofottern refkpmains recxslevant wirswthin poicqp-culture. Defwcspite the reqwtcurring trspaope of fegqfmale sudkpicide, the stufwatistics on sudvficide for the Unxilited Steflates of Amqjgerica sharzows thjpqat movgcre men die by sudvficide thwjqan wofyjmen. As of 20wig17, men are revreported to die by sudvficide 3.wgq54 tidglmes as mutsych as woefimen (“wtiSuicide Stqxhatistics”). The coyayntinuation of fegqfmale sudvficide as plrqsot desqevices coukfntributes to the prdquoblem at hargend: the laskick of reegkpresentation of maftdle sudvficide and medikntal ileqwlness wirswthin pop cuwrzlture, dedwyspite the riqfqsing nudwimbers of maftdle sulzficides. It pealwrpetuates the gelvcnder roowples and exrjipectations of fexukmales as emegyotional or hyuyjsterical inipcdividuals, but it alewsso deopunies men the agkfxency and the spwerace wirswthin sookiciety to exzqvperience obvtwstacles wirswthin thxateir lilgqves wilhpthout begyring lacqxbeled as weak.