The Analysis Of The Book “Middlesex” By Jeffrey Eugenides
In the book, sex plays a major role in Desdemona’s development. Having grown up within the confines of a strict Greek Culture, she has been taught that maintaining her purity is paramount. Due to this cultural pressure placed upon her, Desdemona has lived her life being ashamed of her sexuality. This shame that she feels is further complicated by Desdemona’s romantic love for her brother Lefty. In the next generation, the cycle of incestual love continues, when Tessie and Milton fall for one another, and Desdemona fears that their sexual relationship will result in genetic defects in their future children.
Additionally, Desdemona’s act of dangling a silver spoon over an expectant mother’s belly to determine whether the baby will be a boy or a girl is highly important to her. While Tessie is pregnant with Cal, Desdemona completes this ritual over Tessie’s belly, and predicates that the baby will be a boy. Up until this point, none of Desdemona’s predictions have been wrong. However, when Cal is born intersex, with ambiguous genitalia, Desdemona realizes that her prediction is wrong. After this, Desdemona resides to no longer make predictions about the biological sex of unborn babies, and stops her silver spoon ritual. Though the ritual may seem silly, it represents a piece of Desdemona’s cultural heritage, and when her decision to stop performing this act means that she is giving up another piece of her culture.
I think in some ways that Cal’s upbringing might have been easier if they were to have been raised a boy. One reason I am inclined to think this, is because of Cal’s attraction to women, which causes two pivotal moments in the book. of the One of these pivotal moments is when Cal meets and kisses Clementine, and in turn realizes that she is not like other girls. Another is when Cal falls for another girl at her private all girl’s school. Cal begins a sexual relationship with this other girl, but the girl’s older brother finds out, makes fun of them for being lesbians, and assaults her.
As Cal runs from the attack, she is hi by a tractor, and winds up in the emergency room. It is there that Cal is told for the first time that she is intersex, and contains both male and female sex organs within her body. Though Cal knew she was different from other girls, she may have never found out the reason why if she had not been raised female and had this incident occur. Additionally, Cal does eventually wind up transitioning to male, and this appears to be the best representation of Cal’s personal gender identity. If Cal had been socialized this way, it may have been easier for him to feel comfortable within his body. However, I do believe that there are other issues he could have faced being raised male as well.
Consanguinity played a major role in Desdemona’s psychological development, as discussed earlier when talking about the role of sex in Desdemona’s life, and the fears she had when her children followed suit in falling in love with one another. As an immigrant fleeing a war, Desdemona’s relationship to Lefty, her brother is one of the few things she is able to hold onto, and it is not wonder that they fall in love with each other. However, Desdemona is not without guilt for being sexually and romantically involved with someone so genetically close to her, and this guilt is why she ultimately pulls away and lives her life somewhat separately from Lefty. Additionally this is what could have caused the genetic mutation that made Cal intersex. However within the book, Cal grapples with whether being intersex was a result of a choice his parents made, or a result of pure fate.
In Cal’s generation, the Car symbolized sex. In the book, Lefty begins a side business as a helper to a young photographer who wants to capture erotic images of young women with cars. Through this side business, Lefty realizes that the automobile is beginning to take over as the symbol of sex and eroticism. This is especially true, given that the book takes place in Detroit, where American assembly lines are being developed at Ford Motors, and everyone is supposed to have immense desire for a car.
I imagine Cal’s disclosure was a positive thing for Chapter Eleven, given what we see of Chapter Eleven’s openness and free spirit within the book. Additionally, I also believe in turn that Chapter Eleven’s openness was in and of itself an inspiration for Cal to begin to disclose to his family that he was going to transition to, and identify as male. I would say that Cal’s sexual orientation is straight, given that Cal ultimately identifies as male, and is attracted to females.
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In the book, sex plays a major role in Desdemona’s development. Having grown up within the confines of a strict Greek Culture, she has been taught that maintaining her purity […]