As a young adult there are a lot of struggles when finding your identity, during this time of life young adults are discovering who they are, what they are interested in, and what they want to do with their lives. They spend the first few years of their lives trying to discover themselves by exploring many pastimes and hobbies. While, exploring their interest, they soon discover certain strengths and talents that they did not think they have. As adulthood begins, they are faced with a lot of trials and errors in their life due to lack of experience in dealing with the world. However, issues with identity might take a while for some due to personal issues as discussed in the novel Middlesex. Some adults might find it difficult to cope with who they are as a result of family secrets and may feel like they do not belong. In the novel, the main character Cal, discuss the issues of biology vs. culture as he face, concerning who he is. “I was born twice, first as a baby girl on remarkable 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(Eugenides 3),Cal describes himself as an intersex person who grew up as a girl but, indentify himself as a male. Cal grew up like a normal child in a loving family but, face a problem with his gender due to a certain secret of his family past. While discovering himself, he has to deal with his gender deficiency, due to the union of his grandparents, who are siblings as well as third cousins. It is very hard for him to deal with because society has negative views on incest relationships and intersex individuals.He is forced to feel like a misfit because of his biological being as a result of being different. As you notice in the book, Cal has trouble maintianig close friendships with individuals outside his family because, he does not want people to know who he is. He figures if he does not have a close with others, he does not have to fear rejection Because of Desdemona and Lefty relationships and sexual encounters, caused genetic deficiencies to be passed down form one generation to the next, effecting their gandson. DMMullen
Thrid cousin, brother, mother, whats the big deal!?! March 25, 2010
okay, first off I have to say that I am not really sure if I am even writing on the right topic right now. Secondly, I do not even know how I feel about the topic. But I feel it needs to be touched on, so yeah. =]
As I read book 1, I found it really hard to stay focused on anything other than Lefty and Des. I kept skimming the pages until they were on the page again. For one reason or another, I found it all to be one of the most romantic things I have ever read. Do I agree, no, maybe, probably not. But then again, it was a different time and a different culture.
Someone else said that they interpretide this as being a burden. That their whole relationship was a burden on the two. But here is where I strongly agree. While I don’t think it was right, I think their love was true. The emotion the pours out of their actions proves it. “At first they just hugged in the standard way, but after ten seconds the hug began to change; certain positions of the hands and strokings of the fingers weren’t the usual displays of sibling affection, and these things constituted a language of their own, announced a whole new message in the silent room.” (Eugenides 39)
So I don’t agree, but I don’t judge. Love is something that can not be controlled, nor surpressed, and I don’t see it as being right to judge sometyhing pure and true as wrong.
and again, I don’t even know what I am supposed to be writing about right now, but that was my biggest thing with book one.
So there ya go!
Although we live in a very ethnocentric country, we still find traditional value in the way we are taught to act growing up. Specifically with our sexuality, we are told to keep it very private. Again, this stems from a very traditional mindset. It also may be because of the fact that America is such a melting pot of cultures, who are infamous for tradition and ethical value. This outlook parallels the one highlighted in Middlesex. Throughout just the first quarter of the book, we are constantly reminded about how everyone needs to be socially correct. Of course this book takes place in the earlier 1900’s, so it may be a little more justified. We are introduced to the oldest generation the book mentions in the first quarter of the book, Desdemona and Lefty. The two are third cousins, and at the same time brother and sister. Due to the circumstances of living in a village with such few women for Lefty to mate with, having to mate with the same kind, and his duty to find a god girl, he finds eyes for Desdemona. Desdemona, in the same predicament –having such minimal choices to find someone to be with, having to take care of her brother as she promised her mother, and always being with her brother– Desdemona grows fond of her brother. The two constantly lock eyes and feel heavy near one another, but they must keep it down low because people would not accept it. “At first they just hugged in the standard way, but after ten seconds the hug began to change; certain positions of the hands and strokings of the fingers weren’t the usual displays of sibling affection, and these things constituted a language of their own, announced a whole new message in the silent room.” (Eugenides 39) So many times, we catch Desdemona and Lefty having these encounters where they know they must separate themselves because it “isn’t right”.
Going back to how things parallel, a lot of times we are told to hide our sexuality. This becomes a great problem especially with the rapid growing gay population. A lot of times, people who are gay are told to keep things on the hush, because of the negative effects it can cause them. They can be shunned by family members, religious organizations, employers, etc. Behind closed doors gay people will be who they are, but even sometimes then they find themselves holding back constantly trying to tell themselves their feelings are wrong. In all, we find that a lot of the problems, even though they are not exactly the same, from now and then are very related.
There are many different hard ships that we as people face every day and also throughout our lives, both accepting what others do and seeking the acceptance of others can be considered as one of those many hard ships. Within book one the idea of change is presented right away by Cal as he reflects on his past in which he states “I was born twice: first, as a baby girl, on a remarkably smogless Detroit day in January of 1960; and then again, as a teenage boy, in an emergency room near Petoskey, Michigan, in August of 1974″( Book 1, pg.3) . Change was inevitable for Cal and whether or not society agreed it was a necessary decision that had to be made. Society forms its own opinions towards every type of person regardless of race, sex, gender and or background. The issue that is brought out in Middlesex helps to show the fear and hope for acceptance from people that have been labeled “different”. Cal did not choose to be born in the position that he was given while his parents knew the possible consequences from the decision they were making to have a child. Desdemona and Lefty were two normal people with two very normal lives, Lefty is an example of a guy who found pleasure in one night stands and could be seen as a more care free person. Desdemona in contrast seems to think a little more about her choices and where they will eventually lead. Lefty and Desdemona find what they think to be love in each other as third cousins and soon face a world in which they are shunned from society. Biologically their decision was wrong as well as culturally and as a result they flee to America to recreate themselves but the problems do not stop there, but later continue when they have a grandchild born with a sexual deficiency. Even though they may have ran from the original problems they faced things continued on with their own grandson, they had failed at their own acceptance and felt as though Cal would have to deal with a lifetime filled with the same battle.
In life, people often get confused about their identity. They seek to “find themselves” and make significant changes in their lives to become the person they wish to be. Personality and identity is easy enough to change, however, what about your gender? Gender is not easy to change. You’re either a girl, or you’re a boy, sometimes, you’re even both. So what if you were a girl, and were meant to be a boy? That procedure isn’t as simple as changing your clothes, or talking in a more sophisticated way. In the book Middlesex, we come face to face with the situation of gender and of a hermaphrodite who wants nothing more than to just be normal. The book faces issues of incest, gender decisions, and problems within a family.
The main characters in the book are Desdemona Stephanides, Eleutherios Stephanides, Tessie Stephanides, Milton Stephanides, and Calliope Stephanides. Calliope is the character who has gender issues. She claims to have a male brain, but was assumed to be a female. She states that she will be “reborn.” Being a hermaphrodite causes her great shame later in life, and now looking back on how it all started, she notices her fate early on before she was conceived. Her gender is in trouble, and she is not sure how to escape it. “I was born as a girl….and then born again as a teenage boy” (Eugenides 3). She eventually realizes that identity is easier to change than gender. She isn’t just as girl; she has the mindset of a boy. Her parents Tessie and Milton wanted so badly to have a girl. They try everything in the book, even down to Milton convincing Tessie that male sperm are slower than female. They are so desperate to feel the joy of a girl that they try everything and anything to make sure that a baby girl is in their future.
ps- i would like this to be considered for my essay 🙂
First off, i do have to say that although this is possibly the weirdest book ive ever read, i find in so interesting. The elements in this book are so unfamiliar to my life yet it sucks me in because i want to know more. Obviously i was quite thrown about the whole hermaphrodite thing, but more than that, the relationship her and her brother have is so twisted but so understandable. Just as in their culture, it would be looked so down upon if we were to see each other as more than just siblings. I dont have a brother, but i can only imagine how close we would be if i did. Im sure he would know me better than almost anyone and for that i would love him. So i completely understand how Desdemona and Lefty fall in love, but it seems so surreal to me. Especially when they sleep together for the first time and he watches her undress, i admit i was alone and reading it made me feel uncomfortable lol. i cant imagine doing anything like that. But then again, they are not thinking about that, they are trying to make a new start and see themselves in a different way. “Desdemona saw herself through new eyes, her thin waist, her plump thighs; she felt beautiful, desirable, most of all: not herself”(Eugenides 70). That quote perfectly describes how they try to shed their old lives to build new ones. They both know that they want to be together, so they create a totally new story to make their own fairytale. Its very moving, if you ask me. Not that i necessarily agree with it, but nonethelss.
As we grow up most go through a stage of feeling like a tomboy even if you are a girl or vice versa. Imagine what it would be like living your life feeling like you are trapped in your own body. You feel as if you should really be a boy but you are a girl. In the book Middlesex by Jeffery Eugenides the narrator, Calliope of the novel is a hermaphrodite and was stuck in this situation in her life. She was born with both parts and the parents chose her to become a girl. It turns up that she feels she is more of a boy and changes her identity part way through her life. “I was born twice: first, as a baby girl…and then again, as a teenage boy” (Eugenides 3). The narrator then goes on to tell us about her family’s past and what lead to her birth. She goes back to talking about her grandma Desdemona and grandpa Lefty and how they were raised and eventually moved to America. Their parents died at a young age and Desdemona was left to take care of her younger brother Lefty. Her mother told her “‘Take care of Lefty. Promise me. Find him a wife!’ … and Desdemona, through her tears, replying, “‘I promise. I promise!’” (Eugenides 23). From that day in she knew it was her responsibility to take care of him and find him someone to marry. Lefty was not into following the rules that their parents would have liked and Desdemona tried changing that. He went into Bursa almost every evening to gamble and sleep with different women. Desdemona tried hard to find him a wife within the small village where they were living but Lucille and Vicky did not suit his needs. Lefty soon changed his ways and realized that his best friend, who he was raised with, was who he wanted to marry his very own sister and third cousin, Desdemona. Now this may seem very odd to do but you have to think of the time period they were in. Back in the day the royalty would marry within the family to keep the same traits. It was not much of a bad thing to do back then and I believe that is a main reason why it happened in the book. Compared to now if someone marries their cousin it would be really creepy but it has to do with how society has changed. Gay marriage never used to be much of a thing of the past but now most are about protecting gay rights. Nobody back then probably would have ever thought that it was going to be as accepted as it is today. This is the same thing with marrying within the same family even if it is your own brother. It is weird to us now but if the people of the past could look forward at the type of things we do they would probably say what are they thinking? Even if Desdemona and Lefty questioned how to act in public because they knew they were related. The new town they went to, to get to America never knew that they were brother and sister. As they reach America and then later on Detroit the only people that will know that it is incest are their cousins. All in all, incest was more normal back then and should not be taken as strongly today because of different time periods.
I would like to use this as part of my final essay please 🙂