"'We just want to live. If anyone would let us'" (Eugenides 172).
This quote by Mary Lisbon, to her homecoming date really sums up the feelings of the Lisbon sisters. After the death of Cecilia, so many rules and sanctions are placed upon them. They have been analyzed and discussed and scrutinized to the point in which they no longer have any breathing room. Their parents, their friends and their community have all played a role in this. It calls in to question the definition of being alive, and what is really important in life. For example, it's one thing to be living, but Mary Lisbon (and presumably her sisters) want to experience life. They're rare birds in cages, cut off from the outside world (pardon my cliched metaphor).
To add to the mystery of the storyline, Trip Fontaine begins to act strangely as he and Lux go off to the football field. The book Trip is a lot more heartless than the Trip in the movie. He begins to hint at his unattached feelings for Lux: "'This is it. We danced. We got ribbons. It only lasts for tonight'" (Eugenides 178). He is referring to their status as homecoming King and Queen, but his choice of words almost foreshadows to what is about to happen next. And what does happen next is the kind of thing you hear about in typical cautionary don't-have-sex stories: "'It's weird, I mean I liked her. I really liked her. I just got sick of her right then'" (Eugenides 179). Trip has sex with Lux, and leaves her on the football field, alone. I don't know what to make of this, other than the obvious finger-wagging message of not engaging in sex, because the man/boy/boyfriend/manthing/whatever will instantly devalue you if you do. Is this a message to young girls? Granted, this may just be reality. It may be simpler than a cautionary message, it might just be the sad truth of being a teenager and unsure about what you want. As much as boys can say they don't understand girls, here, I don't know if I understand Trip's motivations.
The season changed definately, as the girls are placed under lockdown: "Moreover, as fall turned to winter the trees in the yard drooped and thickened, concealing the house" (Eugenides 181). The metaphorical death of Lux's innocence is symbolized by the coming winter. Even the other girls lost some of their cherished innocence at the dance, though they did not fall as hard as their younger sister did. The trees conceal the house, the opposite effect of what bare trees normally do. The boys' close relationship (through nothing but sight and sound of the girls) is ending. They are drifting farther away from the four sisters.
I also find it interesting that, years after the deaths, Mrs. Lisbon meets the boys for a makeshift interview in a bus station. It's almost as if she has no place to go, no metaphorical home anymore. She is lost, much like uncomfortable traveller at a bus terminal.
It also has mentioned for quiet a while that Lux is a cigarette enthusiast. The cigarette could be looked at as a phallic symbol. Lux is addicted to cigarettes, it is her crutch, and it helps her through the day. In turn, she is now also addicted to men, trying to justify through sleeping with countless amounts of them that her time spent with Trip Fontaine (who she never talks to again) was meaningless. Both of these habits make her feel better, they help her take her mind off her troubles. They can also both leave you dead, both literally (cigarettes) and figuratively (sleeping with anyone brave enough to scale your roof).
|Lux and Trip never speak again.|
Dictum: A formal statement from an authoritative source. Mrs. Lisbon, a controlling dictator, would be one to give a dictum.
Redolent: Strongly suggestive of something. The boy's remember the hour of the day, by the redolent tastes in their mouths from hours before. The days are blending together, with nothing of merit to mark their coming and going.
Punitive: Intended as punishment. Mrs. Lisbon later insists that she never meant to punish the girls by taking them out of school.
Miasmic: An unpleasant smell. Raccoons were attracted to the run-down Lisbon house by the miasmic vapours of garbage. There is A LOT of smell imagery in this book.