Breaking Night

by

Liz Murray

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Lisa Murray is Liz Murray’s older sister. Though Lisa is a peripheral character in the later chapters of the memoir, she’s an important influence in Liz’s early life. As the older sister, Lisa sometimes teases Liz or pull childish pranks on her. However, Liz benefits from Lisa’s example in many ways, and—like many younger siblings—learns not to make her older sister’s mistakes. Lisa resembles Liz in many ways, but they have some important differences, too. Lisa tends to be more outspoken and more argumentative than her sister; as Liz puts it, she gets angry when she doesn’t receive what’s due to her. Liz, by contrast, is better at swallowing her pride and focusing on the long term. (Liz suggests that Lisa is more outspoken than her sister because she, Lisa, briefly lived in a wealthier foster home, and quickly became accustomed to getting as much food, attention, and love as she wanted.) Lisa also plays a pivotal role in convincing Liz to visit their mother when she’s at the end of her life.

Lisa Murray Quotes in Breaking Night

The Breaking Night quotes below are all either spoken by Lisa Murray or refer to Lisa Murray. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
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). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Hachette Books edition of Breaking Night published in 2011.
Chapter 1 Quotes

Lisa and I dined on Happy Meals in front of the black-and-white TV, to the sound of spoons clanking on the nearby table, chairs being pulled in—and those elongated moments of silence when we knew what they were concentrating on. Daddy had to do it for Ma because with her bad eyesight she could never find a vein.

Page Number: 18
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 2 Quotes

I told Ma all but one detail—the fact that I knew it was wrong. I knew that all I had to do to end it was to call out for her. But I didn't, because Ron made things better for Ma, for Lisa and me. I didn't want to ruin that, so I failed to call out.

Related Characters: Elizabeth “Liz” Murray (speaker), Ma / Jean Murray, Lisa Murray, Ron
Page Number: 69
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 3 Quotes

I don't recall Daddy ever talking about Meredith at home or in front of Ma. She never came to visit. Sometimes it felt as though I made up the memory of her, but I knew I hadn't. And every now and then Lisa and I would talk about how we wanted to meet Meredith again, and get to know our big sister. But no one talked about Daddy's other life before us, or our other sister.

Page Number: 74
Explanation and Analysis:

When Ma was plastered to the couch, flies buzzing over her head, cigarette butts floating in her nearby bottle of beer, it just didn't seem right to tell her that I’d spent my day at a picnic or at the pool, playing in the sun, eating home-cooked meals with Rick and Danny's family. The same went for Daddy and Lisa. Any joy I managed outside of our home felt, to me, like a form of betrayal.

Page Number: 77
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire Breaking Night LitChart as a printable PDF.
Breaking Night PDF

Lisa Murray Character Timeline in Breaking Night

The timeline below shows where the character Lisa Murray appears in Breaking Night. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1: University Avenue
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Drugs and Addiction Theme Icon
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...by doing drugs together, including cocaine, amphetamines, and heroin. In 1978, Ma gives birth to Lisa, Liz’s older sister. Around this time, Daddy begins selling painkillers to old graduate school friends.... (full context)
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...can still remember waiting in line to cash government checks with her mother and, sometimes, Lisa. She sees all kinds of people waiting for their money—some of whom seem able-bodied and... (full context)
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...the government sends a check, Liz and her family have a great day. She and Lisa feast on Happy Meals from McDonald’s, and Ma and Daddy inject drugs into their veins... (full context)
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Lisa is older than Liz, and sometimes, she plays tricks on Liz. But Liz also enjoys... (full context)
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Liz also notices that her parents smoke strange, smelly cigarettes. Often, Liz and Lisa don’t have anything to eat because their parents spend too much on drugs. Lisa gets... (full context)
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While pregnant with Liz, Ma had a nervous breakdown, and during this period, Lisa went to live with a wealthy foster family. Ma often says that Lisa is tough... (full context)
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Ma often takes Lisa and Liz to get free lunch at the local school. Sometimes, Lisa and Liz have... (full context)
Chapter 2: Middle of Everything
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Lisa bullies Liz when Ma and Daddy aren’t around. She pulls pranks on Liz, and tells... (full context)
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In the first grade, Liz discovers that she has lice, and Lisa makes fun of her. Later, Lisa offers to help Liz. She braids Liz’s hair and... (full context)
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Lisa’s lice cure, of course, turns out to be yet another one of her practical jokes—it... (full context)
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Liz hates getting up in the mornings. Lisa often yells at her to get out of bed and get ready for school. In... (full context)
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...with a woman named Tara. They get high together, and Ma often brings Liz and Lisa to Tara’s apartment. Ma and Tara talk about cocaine, their drug of choice, over and... (full context)
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Eventually, Ron starts picking up Lisa, Liz, and Ma at Tara’s apartment every Sunday. Instinctively, Liz knows not to talk about... (full context)
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One day, Ron drives Liz, Lisa, and Ma out to his house in Queens. For the rest of the day, Lisa... (full context)
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Following Ma’s breakdown—caused, the doctors claim, from Ma’s failure to take her “schizophrenia medicine”—Liz and Lisa are taken to the doctor as well. There, Liz remembers a nurse saying, “You should... (full context)
Chapter 3: Tsunami
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...to stretch the monthly relief checks as far as possible. He even gives Liz and Lisa a small allowance—although Ma later steals Liz’s savings to buy cocaine. (full context)
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...Liz is about six years old. Daddy is walking by a park with Liz and Lisa when, suddenly, he turns away. Daddy tells Lisa to take Liz into the park, where... (full context)
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...begins sleeping on the couch instead of with Daddy. Sometimes, when Ma and Daddy fight, Lisa and Liz lock themselves in their separate rooms. Liz reads her father’s detective books, and... (full context)
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...the door. Ma opens it and finds a young man standing outside. To Liz’s surprise, Lisa greets the man, Matt, by name and invited him into the living room. Liz realizes... (full context)
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Liz sometimes watches Lisa put on a bra. This fascinates Liz: Liz is young and boyish, and sometimes people... (full context)
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...She complains to Liz that “this guy,” a local drug dealer, has refused to take Lisa’s winter coat in return for some drugs, instead telling her, “Go back to your kids.”... (full context)
Chapter 4: Unraveling
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...that she’s moving in with Brick, and that she wants Liz to come with her. Lisa goes with Ma, but Liz chooses to stay with Daddy. (full context)
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...wish each other good luck. Liz is about to be taken to live with Ma, Lisa, and Brick, but she’s worried that this home will turn out to be “another place... (full context)
Chapter 5: Stuck
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...work every day while Ma spends much of her time drinking at a local bar. Lisa becomes increasingly irritable around Liz. Liz notices that her sister spends a lot of time... (full context)
Chapter 7: Breaking Night
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...ice cream cake to celebrate. That night, Liz can’t stop thinking about her parents and Lisa. She also begins to worry when Carlos spends longer amounts of time away from her.... (full context)
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Late at night, Liz calls Brick’s home. Lisa answers the phone and explains that Liz should come home: Ma “doesn’t have that long.” (full context)
Chapter 8: The Motels
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...is faint and confused, suggesting that she has dementia from the final stages of AIDS. Lisa takes the phone and angrily tells Liz that she should spend more time with Ma. (full context)
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Liz calls Lisa, who informs her that Ma is in the hospital. Liz decides to go to the... (full context)
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After Ma falls back asleep, Liz leaves the hospital. Lisa can’t believe that Liz would leave so abruptly, and begins to sob. Liz just says,... (full context)
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Then, one morning, Liz gets a call from Lisa: Ma has died. Liz rushes to the hospital, where she finds Daddy. The two of... (full context)
Chapter 9: Pearls
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The family buries Ma the day after Christmas. At the funeral, Liz sees Lisa and realizes that her sister has grown into a beautiful woman, just like their mother.... (full context)
Chapter 10: The Wall
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...start over again. She remembers waiting in line outside the welfare office with Ma and Lisa. Ma had to prepare the perfect set of documents in order to qualify for welfare;... (full context)
Chapter 12: Possibility
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...family, but it’s always very uncomfortable. She spends some holidays and birthdays with Daddy and Lisa, and stresses over even the smallest details of these celebrations—for example, what kind of card... (full context)
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...the twenty-one finalists for the scholarship, out of many thousands of applicants. By this time, Lisa is living with Liz in a one-bedroom apartment in Bedford Park. Lisa, who works at... (full context)
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...even heard of begin to send her money and support. One man pays all of Lisa and Liz’s rent for the year. Liz never sleeps on the streets again. Another woman... (full context)
Epilogue
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Today, Sam is happily married and living in Wisconsin. Lisa is a college graduate and works as a schoolteacher for autistic kids. Bobby is studying... (full context)