Is there some sort of significance or symbolism to the fact that all the sisters committed suicide in different ways. It would have been easier for them all to go out in the same way.

For reference - Therese took sleeping pills, Bonnie hanged herself in the basement, Mary stuck her head in the gas oven, and Lux died of carbon monoxide poisoning by leaving the car engine running in the garage.

1 Answer 1


The novel gives much more insight into why the Lisbon sisters chose each particular method of suicide. The best way to answer this question is to break down each girl and the method of suicide. The girls are listed in the order that they chose to kill themselves in the novel:

  • Cecilia - She is not listed in this question, but she is still one of the sisters and the first to die. Her death sets in motion the fate of her sisters. She chose to jump out of the window and impale herself onto a fencepost. This death was very bloody and dramatic. The remaining sisters did not want to repeat the drama of Cecilia's death.
  • Therese - She chose sleeping pills and gin. This method of suicide is presumably pain free and peaceful since you just go to sleep. Therese suffered from low self-esteem. This method would let her die quietly without drawing attention to herself.
  • Bonnie - She chose to hang herself. The clothing that she is wearing speaks more of symbolism than the suicide itself. She's dressed in a pink dress, looking almost festive. Chase even compares her to a pinata when he discovers her. The fact that she hung herself and that she is compared to a pinata symbolizes that she wanted attention drawn to her and she wanted this suicide to make a bold statement. Also, she hangs herself in the basement where a year earlier, her sister, Cecilia had her party and then later killed herself.
  • Mary - She chose to put her head in a gas oven. This is another method that is quick and relatively peaceful and quiet. Mary could be protesting her role as a woman in a strict and conservative home and that her choosing to use the oven as the cause of her death is her way of protesting her role as a woman in society. This theory might be exaggerating the reasoning somewhat, but, it's still a thought. Note: Mary fails at her suicide attempt in the novel. She ends up killing herself a month later with sleeping pills like her sister, Therese.
  • Lux - She chose carbon monoxide poisoning by leaving the family station wagon running in the garage. It's important to note that Lux died with a cigarette in her hand. This manner of suicide symbolizes her rebellious nature. She chose a painful and clean way to die, but chooses a manner which would let her rebellious nature be seen by all with keeping a cigarette in her hand.

There is not a clear explanation as to why the girls chose these methods of suicide. There are some hints throughout the novel as to why:

  1. Their mother was constantly segregating them from the world, but putting them together in the same room when they were being punished. Perhaps the girls wanted to make their own statements as individuals with their suicides.
  2. Each of the girls chose a peaceful and clean (for lack of better word) method of suicide. They did not want to make a bloody spectacle of their deaths or to draw anymore attention than need be.
  3. The methods of suicide chosen are characteristic methods used by females. Females tend to want a more peaceful and quiet death:

Women who commit suicide use less violent methods, such as drugs and carbon monoxide poisoning, than do men, who more often use violent methods such as guns and hanging.

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