In the novel The Virgin Suicides, we find that every daughter of the Lisbon family has attempted to suicide and succeeded.

However, at the end of the novel, we don't find any motive behind all of this.

Was the motive behind the suicides ever explained by the author?

Because this was never explained in the novel, I am looking for an out-of-universe explanation.


This interview with Jeffrey Eugenides by Dazed Digital (published 06 August 2013) includes this question and answer:

DD: In The Virgin Suicides you wrote, ‘Something sick at the heart of the country had infected the girls.’ Were you anchoring that in the political situation of 1993?

Jeffrey Eugenides: I certainly was. I grew up in Detroit in the 60s, which was haemorrhaging population. There were race riots and a feeling of national decline which affected my mood growing up. I assumed that it would affect the moods and disposition of the Lisbon girls as well. I was living in Germany when the book came out in the 90s, and they were calling America a ‘hyper-power’ because of the resurgence of the economy during the Clinton years. I thought, ‘The prediction I made in The Virgin Suicides is not exactly right. I shouldn’t be too pessimistic in life.’ And then there was the crash in 2008! Basically, I was right, but I’m trying not to be too pessimistic. There’s still a lot of potential for any generation in any country.

  • A quote from the author is a good start, but there's probably a lot more you could say using tools such as close reading.
    – user111
    Jul 24 '17 at 20:57
  • I know that, @Hamlet, but I have not read the book in question (and am not sure that I want to). This quote is a drop better than some others, because there is a little bit of analysis (and analysis of the text, as well) included.
    – Shokhet
    Jul 24 '17 at 23:21
  • @Hamlet The OP specifically says "Was the motive behind the suicides ever explained by the author? [...] I am looking for an out-of-universe explanation." You might say that's a poor way to frame it, but I don't think this answer deserves to be downvoted for answering the question as stated.
    – Rand al'Thor
    Jul 31 '17 at 14:51

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