English Blog

It’s just wrong. :/ March 25, 2010

Filed under: Middlesex — writing4english @ 12:41 PM

Incest is one topic I have never really thought of before and now that it is brought up, it really interests me. It is one of the most disturbing things I have heard about and I never really knew how it could effect someone. “You’re not only my sister. You’re my third cousin, too. Third cousins can marry.” “You’re crazy Lefty.” “This way will be easier. We won’t have to rearrange the house” (Eugenides 39). This quote is I believe the first one to blatantly say that there is an emotional and physical attraction between the two siblings/third cousins. Desdemona, throughout the first two ‘chapters’ of Book 1, gets these feelings deep down inside of her that she cannot explain. I feel that those feelings deep down inside of her are just foreshadowing what is going to happen between the two of them. Incest between siblings is said to be the least harmful form, but I think that any incest or sexual abuse in anyway can mess with someone’s head just as much. Lefty and Desdemona had nobody else. It was the two of them all the time, from the time they were born. Not to mention with the parents not alive anymore, the village they lived in was full of hairy, smelly women. The attractions between Lefty and Desdemona are understandable to an extent. As Lefty says up top, “We won’t have to rearrange the house,” is interesting to me that he even said anything like that. He shows really no interest of incest with Desdemona, she is the one that gets those feelings to want her brother/third cousin. Also, as I was reading, I never knew that incest was illegal. Hmm!

–Sam Laird


Filed under: Uncategorized — writing4english @ 11:32 AM



Calliope & Sex, Gender, and the Body

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


Well, I love you but not like that.

Filed under: Gender & Sexuality,Middlesex — writing4english @ 11:02 AM

I have to disagree with the idea that Desdemona and Lefty really wanted to be together but couldn’t because they knew it was wrong. I think that the attraction between Desdemona and Lefty was a burden on them; a burden they enjoyed but were reluctant to explore. Before Desdemona’s mother passed away her last words to her daughter were, “Take care of Lefty. Promise me. Find him a wife!” From then on, Desdemona was left with a large responsibility at such a young age. Thankfully, she was raised to be much more mature. Although it was a crazy transaction for her I think Desdemona enjoyed her responsibilities. She loved her silkworms & the cocoons and her brother, Lefty, very much. I think she was led to act more like a mother figure for him. “Didn’t she do everything for him, cook, sew, and keep the house as their mother used to?”(Eugenides, 27). That right there makes me believe that the only reason they ended up together was because she wanted the best for her brother and she wanted to keep her end of the promise she shared with her mother.

Lefty knew it was time for him to settle down but he couldn’t find anyone. He knew his sister was there to look out for him and he wanted to make her proud by picking the perfect lady. Lefty settling down with Desdemona seemed easier and he knew she would obviously approve of herself; she wasn’t a Turk (those are the girls Desdemona was determined to have Lefty stay away from). In regards to the relationship they began to grow, I think Lefty was in it for more of the curiosity. He fantasized so much of other woman and when he would think of his sister he would just pretend it wasn’t his sister.

It was hard for them to have a romantic relationship with each other because well… they were related. When it comes to love we are all told the qualities we should look for in a mate and what we should stay away from. However, we are never told, “Now don’t go marrying your brother/sister.” That just seems to be something we know not to do. Desdemona was even waiting for someone to tell her what she was doing was shameful. But, I don’t think they were reluctant because they knew it was wrong. I think they hesitated because they were confused about the kind of love they actually shared.

Desdemona was very nurturing and wanted to look out for her brother. Lefty was still so curious about life and what it had to offer, but knew it was time for him to find a woman. If anything it seemed like the relationship between them was so easy to happen because they had each other there. They obviously loved each other very much but personally, I wasn’t too convinced with the idea of them wanting to be together in a romantic relationship. I think the commitment between them was made to secure the thought that they will always have each other. It didn’t bother them too much that they were together because they always had each other around and loved each other more than anything. Maybe, it wasn’t until after the dance they shared that they may have seen one another in a different way. The feelings they felt that night made them realize the romance they could potentially share between them.

Nayeli Garza.

*I would like to use some ideas in my final essay. If any of it could possibly work.


Firstly, Understanding the past

Filed under: Middlesex,Uncategorized — writing4english @ 11:01 AM
            I find it somewhat hard to relate to Middlesex. The only connection I feel between the book is the aspect of Detroit (though, barely mentioned thus far).It is very interesting to read something you would never read on your own. Gladly, we have been discussing sex, gender, and identity for a while now and I feel that has helped a great deal in my process of understanding of the book.

Someone once told me that in order to understand the present, you must know the past. I feel like this is what Cal is doing. He’s going way back to before he was born and analyzing things that took place within his family. His grandmother Desdemona and her brother Lefty have been mentioned quite a bit. Though they are brother and sister, it almost seems like they secretly have a thing for one another. They seem to be inseparable. “Lefty was one year younger than Desdemona and she often wondered how she survived those first twelve months without him,” it continues to say, “He was her best friend and confidant” (Eugenides 24, 25). They definitely have a connection and bond – at times it seems like it’s a forced bond they must have since their parents passed and they basically only had one another.

It’s hard for them to relate to one another’s idea and desire for a significant other. Though they were like best friends, this was one thing that never really shared with one another. It’s funny how Desdemona would try to give Lucille and Victoria tips on their appearance and almost force Lefty to give them a second look. She would look through old magazines and see how they dressed and looked almost as though that is what a woman was supposed to look like. The keyword is that the magazines were old and that the past definition of what a woman should look like has probably changed a bit, if not dramatically.

None the less, I am not quite sure where the direction of this book is going, but I hope it gets better.

Quote of the day: “Other things may change us, but we start and end with the family.  ~Anthony Brandt

Lori E. Allan


"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.”

 (I wish to possibly use this later on.)

How could they do that?!?

Filed under: Uncategorized — writing4english @ 10:39 AM

For most people, incest is just a weird, wrong, and unspeakable act.  Just the thought of any sexual attraction or physicality with members of our own family brings immediate disgust.  Yet this is in our society and culture. In the novel, Lefty and Desdemona seem to have a different situation. Even though I could never ever picture myself with my sister, or cousins, or any member of my family, if you try hard to put yourself in their situation, you can sort of see why they did it. I feel like they didn’t want or choose to fall in love with each other, but their minds naturally adapted to their situation. There aren’t any available women in their small town, they are best friends and all that each other has. That plus the hard times they are in with the war just seemed to force them together. It also says in the novel that  in their town it was acceptable to marry third cousins, which technically they also are. This is why i think their minds just naturally adapted to their situation and just forced out the thought of them being brother and sister. Around other people, they were brother and sister, ut together they were cousins. Eventually as their charade kept going on longer and longer in Detroit, they just accepted and forgot that they were related.

We cannot fully understand this situation because we hopefully will never have to experience it. But i do think we experience this kind of love all the time, just not with our brother or sister. Think of most romantic comedies, songs, or shows. Taylor Swift’s “You Belong With Me” is about two best friends who realize they have loved each other the whole time. Countless movies occur around this theme too, with a few coming to mind are ones like Thirteen Going on Thirty, The Ugly Truth, and Maid Of Honor. All these movies centralize around really close couples falling in love. So besides the fact that Lefty and Desdemona are brother and sister, their situation is not uncommon, and we would not question it at all. We would probably just try to make it a movie.

Tyler Staruch


lacking in nature and nurture

Filed under: Uncategorized — writing4english @ 8:06 AM

It is interesting as to how many similarities Cal and the grandmother already seem to have with each other in Book One of the novel. Cal briefly explains his previous battles with himself and his identity, while he goes into detail of his grandmothers past. Both seem to be very much influenced by both their nature, and when I use the word nature I simply mean cultural influences, and the way they were raised. In Desdemona’s and Lefty’s case, they went to great lengths to make their case of incest as culturally acceptable and hidden as possible. Both Desdemona and Lefty tried to justify their love for each other when there is no justification. Losing both of their parents at a young age, as well living in such a small town, Desdemona and Lefty seemed to live without the influences of a culture in which to follow or even  conforming to general beliefs and family practices.  WIthout either of these influences, they really only had each other to justify their incest to as they “tried to defamiliarize themselves with each other” in order to not only please the people on board with them but more so to make their actions seem more justifiable as they lied to each other, taking turns ” reciting Homeric geneologies, full of falsifications and borrowings from real life” (Eugenides 79).  Its sad that without proper guidance from either their culture or family, that these kids were able to invent these “fictional relatives” in order to help them view each other as potential lovers as opposed to the truth, siblings.

Nick Vecellio