Collective Suffering, Uncertainty and Trauma in Jeffrey Eugenides’s The Virgin Suicides: Of Bystanders, Perpetrators and Victims.

  • Bilyana Vanyova Kostova
Keywords: collective trauma, suffering, perpetrators, bystanders, victims, uncertainty


This paper offers an analysis of Jeffrey Eugenides’s debut novel The Virgin Suicides as a narrative of survival, uncertainty and coming to terms with traumatic experiences. It contends that the experimental narrator —a group of middle-aging men— participates in the different traumatic events in a threefold way, as men who become bystanders, perpetrators and victims. The perspective offered by Trauma Studies in the study of the novel points to the text’s reticence to define both its peculiar narrator and the enigma at the core of the narrator’s story. The effects of such textual uncertainty are interpreted as a process of gradual realization of the collective trauma suffered not only by the female protagonists but also by the would-be narrator of the story and by the whole community of Grosse Pointe.

Author Biography

Bilyana Vanyova Kostova
Universidad de Zaragoza