English Blog

Calliope & Sex, Gender, and the Body March 25, 2010

Filed under: Middlesex,Uncategorized — writing4english @ 11:27 AM

Book 1 is very interesting and really draws the reader in by starting out very dramatically. We learn of Cal (or Calliope) Stephenides and how he came about. Cal is a man who was raised as a woman. It is revealed that the grandparents of Cal lived on Mount Olympus and were in the silk industry. They were also brother and sister as well as third cousins. So his family is already a little different before Cal comes along. Cal was supposed to be a boy at birth but was born as a woman. “Up until now Desdemona had had a perfect record: twenty-three correct guesses. She’d known that Tessie was going to be Tessis. She’d predicted the sex of my brother and of all the babies of her friends at church. The only children whose genders she hadn’t divined were her own, because it was bad luck for a mother to plumb the mysteries  of her own womb. Fearlessly, however, she plumbed my mother’s. After some initial hesitation, the spoon swung north to south, which meant that I was going to be a boy” (Eugenides 5-6). Its odd how Desdemona ended up being correct in the end. Perhaps Calliope’s parents were in so much denial about having a boy that no matter how the child came out, it would be a girl; or at least have a girl’s name. Imagine being a teenager and finding out that you aren’t what you once thought you are. “I’ve lived more that half my life as a male, and by now everything comes naturally” (Eugenides 41). However, not everything does come naturally for Cal. “I operate in society as a man. I use the men’s room. Never the urinals, always the stalls. In the men’s locker room at my gym I even shower, albeit discreetly” (Eugenides 41). Cal is a man, however, he can’t let people know that he wasn’t always a man. He would be ashamed if anyone were to find out about Callie that doesn’t already know.  

-Jeffrey Senecal


One Response to “Calliope & Sex, Gender, and the Body”

  1. You’re definitely on the right track here, Jeffrey. Next time I’d like to read more from you ABOUT the quotes, so that the quotes don’t take up such a large proportion of the writing. Otherwise, good.

    ~Jenna G.

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