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English Oral Presentation
The Virgin Suicides
“Why does Jeffrey Eugenides’
narrate in the first person
plural?”
“Writing a novel in first-person plural can’t be easy, but when an
author nails it – like Jeffrey Eugenides did with The Virgin
Suicides – it sticks with you. This narrative technique isn’t the
“royal we” or a Greek chorus, but a collective voice that observes
and is also part of the story.”
Who are “We” ?
“We held their sweaty palms, turning them under the mirrored ball. We lost them
in the vastness of their dresses and found them again, squeezed the pulp of their
bodies and inhaled the perfume of their exertion. A few of us grew brave enough
to insert our legs between theirs and to press our agony against them.” (3.178)
Thesis Nº1: Several voices are more credible
than one.
"We didn't understand why Cecilia had killed herself
the first time and we understood even less when she
did it twice" (32).
Thesis Nº 2 : Difference between groups
“It didn't matter in the end how old they had been, or that they
were girls, but only that we had loved them, and that they hadn't
heard us calling, still do not hear us, up here in the tree house, with
our thinning hair and soft bellies, calling them out of those rooms
where they went to be alone for all time, alone in suicide, which is
deeper than death, and where we will never find the pieces to put
them back together.”
Thesis Nº 2 .1: Gender Differences
• “We had never known (them).
They had brought us here to find
that out.”
• “We felt the imprisonment of being a girl, the way it made your mind active
and dreamy, and how you ended up knowing which colors went together. We
knew that the girls were our twins, that we all existed in space like animals with
identical skins, and that they knew everything about us though we couldn’t
fathom them at all. We knew, finally, that the girls were really women in
disguise, that they understood love and even death, and that our job was
merely to create the noise that seemed to fascinate them.”
Thesis Nº3: Be part of the history
“We knew the pain of winter wind rushing up your skirt, and the ache of keeping
your knees together in class, and how drab and infuriating it was to jump rope while
the boys played baseball. We could never understand why the girls cared so much
about being mature, or why they felt compelled to compliment each other, but
sometimes, after one of us had read a long portion of the diary out loud, we had to
fight back the urge to hug one another or to tell each other how pretty we were. We
felt the imprisonment of being a girl, the way it made your mind active and dreamy,
and how you ended up knowing which colors went together. We knew that the girls
were our twins, that we all existed in space like animals with identical skins, and
that they knew everything about us though we couldn’t fathom them at all. We
knew, finally, that the girls were really women in disguise, that they understood love
and even death, and that our job was merely to create the noise that seemed to
fascinate them.”
Thesis Nº4: Youth
“Something sick at the heart of the country had infected the girls. Our
parents thought it had to do with our music, our godlessness, or the
loosening of morals regarding sex we hadn’t even had… The Lisbon
girls became a symbol of what was wrong with the country, the pain it
inflicted on even its most innocent citizens.” (Eugenides 231)
Thesis Nº5 : Racial Discrimination
“The water lapped the walls reflecting our pink
faces, and the red and blue streamers
overhead.”
Conclusion
•“We” is deployed to suggest a process of collective mourning
and memorialization, which commemorates not only the lost
girls but also a vanished era and community.
•Eugenides has repeatedly identified his fascination with
"impossible narrative voices"—a reference to both The Virgin
Suicides and the more recent Middlesex.
Bibliographic references:
1. Eugenides, Jefrey. (1993). The Virgin Suicides. 5th Edition, Fourth Estate. London.
2. Wandland, Louise. (2011) . “Giving the Sisters a Voice: Telling the Story” in We Couldn't Fathom Them at All: The Complex Representation
of Femininity in Jeffrey Eugenides' The Virgin Suicides. Sweeden: Halmstad University School of Humanities. Retrieved May 12, 2018,from
http://hh.divaportal.org/smash/get/diva2:435753/FULLTEXT02.pdf.
3. “The Virgin Suicides Summary”. Retrieved May 12, 2018, from https://www.enotes.com/topics/virgin-suicide
4. Kakutani, Michiko. 1993. “Books of The Times; Of Death in Adolescence And Innocence Lost” . Retrieved May 12, 2018, from
https://www.nytimes.com/1993/03/19/books/books-of-the-times-of-death-in-adolescence-and-innocence-lost.html
5. Shostak, Debra. 2009. "A story we could live with": Narrative Voice, the Reader, and Jeffrey Eugenides's The Virgin Suicides.
MFS Modern Fiction Studies. (Volume 55, Number 4, Winter 2009 pp. 808-832). Baltimore: Purdue University's Department of English.
Retrieved May 12, 2018, from: https://muse.jhu.edu/article/367327
6. Nesbit, TaraShea. 2012. “We can do a lot: the rise of first-person plural narration”. Retrieved May 12, 2018, from:
https://www.theguardian.com/books/booksblog/2014/may/14/first-personal-plural-narration-novels-stories
7. Ganesan, Sharmilla . 2015. “Booked Out: Women and their voices in 'The Virgin Suicides'”. Retrieved May 12, 2018, from:
https://www.thestar.com.my/lifestyle/books/news/2015/03/01/booked-out-women-and-their-voices-in-the-virgin-suicides/
8. Shmoop Editorial Team. (2008). "Virgin Suicides Narrator Point of View." Shmoop. Shmoop University, Inc. Retrieved May 12,
2018, from: https://www.shmoop.com/the-virgin-suicides/narrator-point-of-view.html
9. Unknown. (2012). “Why we like first-person plural … and why we don’t” . Retrieved May 12, 2018, from:
https://shelftalkblog.wordpress.com/2012/03/06/why-we-like-first-person-plural-and-why-we-dont/
10. Jeffrey Eugenides: Key Facts”. Retrieved May 12, 2018, from: http://www.sparknotes.com/lit/virginsuicides/facts/
11. Bookrags. “Jeffrey Eugenides Writing Styles in The Virgin Suicides”: Point of view. Retrieved May 12, 2018, from:
http://www.bookrags.com/studyguide-the-virgin-suicides/style.html#gsc.tab=0

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“Why does Jeffrey Eugenides’ narrate in the first person plural?” - The Virgin Suicides

  • 1. English Oral Presentation The Virgin Suicides “Why does Jeffrey Eugenides’ narrate in the first person plural?”
  • 2. “Writing a novel in first-person plural can’t be easy, but when an author nails it – like Jeffrey Eugenides did with The Virgin Suicides – it sticks with you. This narrative technique isn’t the “royal we” or a Greek chorus, but a collective voice that observes and is also part of the story.”
  • 3. Who are “We” ? “We held their sweaty palms, turning them under the mirrored ball. We lost them in the vastness of their dresses and found them again, squeezed the pulp of their bodies and inhaled the perfume of their exertion. A few of us grew brave enough to insert our legs between theirs and to press our agony against them.” (3.178)
  • 4. Thesis Nº1: Several voices are more credible than one. "We didn't understand why Cecilia had killed herself the first time and we understood even less when she did it twice" (32).
  • 5. Thesis Nº 2 : Difference between groups “It didn't matter in the end how old they had been, or that they were girls, but only that we had loved them, and that they hadn't heard us calling, still do not hear us, up here in the tree house, with our thinning hair and soft bellies, calling them out of those rooms where they went to be alone for all time, alone in suicide, which is deeper than death, and where we will never find the pieces to put them back together.”
  • 6. Thesis Nº 2 .1: Gender Differences • “We had never known (them). They had brought us here to find that out.” • “We felt the imprisonment of being a girl, the way it made your mind active and dreamy, and how you ended up knowing which colors went together. We knew that the girls were our twins, that we all existed in space like animals with identical skins, and that they knew everything about us though we couldn’t fathom them at all. We knew, finally, that the girls were really women in disguise, that they understood love and even death, and that our job was merely to create the noise that seemed to fascinate them.”
  • 7. Thesis Nº3: Be part of the history “We knew the pain of winter wind rushing up your skirt, and the ache of keeping your knees together in class, and how drab and infuriating it was to jump rope while the boys played baseball. We could never understand why the girls cared so much about being mature, or why they felt compelled to compliment each other, but sometimes, after one of us had read a long portion of the diary out loud, we had to fight back the urge to hug one another or to tell each other how pretty we were. We felt the imprisonment of being a girl, the way it made your mind active and dreamy, and how you ended up knowing which colors went together. We knew that the girls were our twins, that we all existed in space like animals with identical skins, and that they knew everything about us though we couldn’t fathom them at all. We knew, finally, that the girls were really women in disguise, that they understood love and even death, and that our job was merely to create the noise that seemed to fascinate them.”
  • 8. Thesis Nº4: Youth “Something sick at the heart of the country had infected the girls. Our parents thought it had to do with our music, our godlessness, or the loosening of morals regarding sex we hadn’t even had… The Lisbon girls became a symbol of what was wrong with the country, the pain it inflicted on even its most innocent citizens.” (Eugenides 231)
  • 9. Thesis Nº5 : Racial Discrimination “The water lapped the walls reflecting our pink faces, and the red and blue streamers overhead.”
  • 10. Conclusion •“We” is deployed to suggest a process of collective mourning and memorialization, which commemorates not only the lost girls but also a vanished era and community. •Eugenides has repeatedly identified his fascination with "impossible narrative voices"—a reference to both The Virgin Suicides and the more recent Middlesex.
  • 11. Bibliographic references: 1. Eugenides, Jefrey. (1993). The Virgin Suicides. 5th Edition, Fourth Estate. London. 2. Wandland, Louise. (2011) . “Giving the Sisters a Voice: Telling the Story” in We Couldn't Fathom Them at All: The Complex Representation of Femininity in Jeffrey Eugenides' The Virgin Suicides. Sweeden: Halmstad University School of Humanities. Retrieved May 12, 2018,from http://hh.divaportal.org/smash/get/diva2:435753/FULLTEXT02.pdf. 3. “The Virgin Suicides Summary”. Retrieved May 12, 2018, from https://www.enotes.com/topics/virgin-suicide 4. Kakutani, Michiko. 1993. “Books of The Times; Of Death in Adolescence And Innocence Lost” . Retrieved May 12, 2018, from https://www.nytimes.com/1993/03/19/books/books-of-the-times-of-death-in-adolescence-and-innocence-lost.html 5. Shostak, Debra. 2009. "A story we could live with": Narrative Voice, the Reader, and Jeffrey Eugenides's The Virgin Suicides. MFS Modern Fiction Studies. (Volume 55, Number 4, Winter 2009 pp. 808-832). Baltimore: Purdue University's Department of English. Retrieved May 12, 2018, from: https://muse.jhu.edu/article/367327 6. Nesbit, TaraShea. 2012. “We can do a lot: the rise of first-person plural narration”. Retrieved May 12, 2018, from: https://www.theguardian.com/books/booksblog/2014/may/14/first-personal-plural-narration-novels-stories 7. Ganesan, Sharmilla . 2015. “Booked Out: Women and their voices in 'The Virgin Suicides'”. Retrieved May 12, 2018, from: https://www.thestar.com.my/lifestyle/books/news/2015/03/01/booked-out-women-and-their-voices-in-the-virgin-suicides/ 8. Shmoop Editorial Team. (2008). "Virgin Suicides Narrator Point of View." Shmoop. Shmoop University, Inc. Retrieved May 12, 2018, from: https://www.shmoop.com/the-virgin-suicides/narrator-point-of-view.html 9. Unknown. (2012). “Why we like first-person plural … and why we don’t” . Retrieved May 12, 2018, from: https://shelftalkblog.wordpress.com/2012/03/06/why-we-like-first-person-plural-and-why-we-dont/ 10. Jeffrey Eugenides: Key Facts”. Retrieved May 12, 2018, from: http://www.sparknotes.com/lit/virginsuicides/facts/ 11. Bookrags. “Jeffrey Eugenides Writing Styles in The Virgin Suicides”: Point of view. Retrieved May 12, 2018, from: http://www.bookrags.com/studyguide-the-virgin-suicides/style.html#gsc.tab=0