Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides

Topics: Gender, Gender role, Sex / Pages: 8 (1901 words) / Published: Apr 22nd, 2009
INTERTWINED BEGINNINGS: Middlesex is an outline of the life of Calliope Stephanides who grew to the age of fourteen believing that she was a girl with unnatural thoughts for the same sex. As puberty takes hold of her friends and classmates, both Calliope and her family begin to worry about the growing gap between her and the average teenage girl; this marks the beginning of a new life for Calliope who finds she is really a he. Under the new name, Cal, this individual struggles with identity management as he traces his transformation from female to male and the genetic condition, beginning with his paternal grandparents that caused it. “I was born twice: first, as a baby girl, on a remarkably smog less Detroit day in January of 1960; and then again, as a teenage boy, in an emergency room near Petoskey, Michigan, in August of 1974”. (Middlesex, p.3). The emergence of Calliope’s mutated chromosome that produced both sex organs began long before her arrival. Throughout the Stephanides Ancestral family tree, there are accounts of inter-family marriage. Middlesex describes two specific accounts of incest beginning with Calliope’s grandparents, Lefty and Desdemona. The family originates from Greece, the grandparents from Bithynios where their lives began as biological brother and sister until tragedy struck their village and they found only each other for comfort and support. The second inter-family marriage is between Calliope’s own parents, Milton and Tessie, who where second cousins at birth, but fell in love at a young age. Despite Desdemona’s efforts to keep the two cousins apart, they married and had two children, one of which became Cal.

INFLUENCE OF GREEK/GREEK-AMERICAN CULTURE: The Greek background and the trauma Calliope’s grandparents faced before coming to America shapes the actions taken that lead to the late discovery of Calliope’s real existence. Desdemona and Lefty faced many challenges during their transition from Greece to the

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