English Blog

Incest was the norm March 25, 2010

Filed under: Middlesex — writing4english @ 12:49 PM

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.

Olivia Lewis

I would like to use this as part of my final essay please 🙂

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2 Responses to “Incest was the norm”

  1. I definitely think incest was more popular back then, not too much now.. maybe in kentucky? ha kidding!

    -Caitlin Tefend

  2. I think this works, Olivia. You can use it. The point about royalty is a good one. However, be careful make the assumption that incest was “acceptable”. But in certain instances, perhaps less looked down upon. I think the second half of your post is particularly good.

    ~Jenna G.


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