English Blog

Crossing the Invisible Barrier April 5, 2010

Filed under: Middlesex — writing4english @ 9:33 PM

For all contraversial situations, there is a divide. For Cal/Calliope, it’s gender. And that’s why he so easily relates himself to Berlin which is a city of divide. Berlin is much like Detroit. For the city of Detroit, that divide is 8 mile. Although, back in Desdemona’s days, it was Hastings Street. Nonetheless, the 2 streets are very similar. On one side are the whites and on the other side are the blacks segregated from everyone and everything. That barrier is what seperated Detroit from the early 1900s on to this day. The south side of 8 mile is a place where white people don’t feel comfortable. They lock their doors while driving through, roll the windows up, and turn down the radio. For Desdemona, crossing Hastings street gave off the same tension. “At that moment every passenger, all of whom were white, performed a talismanic guesture. Men patted wallets, women refastened purses…Desdemona, noticing this, looked out to see that the streetcar had entered the Black Bottom ghetto (Eugenides 141).” Hastings Street was the prime African American area and Desdeomona figured that out very quickly when she looked out the window of the car. Dispair filled the neighborhood and it could be felt just by crossing a road. Even as an immigrant, Desdemona feels as if she is better than the blacks. ‘And then’-hand to heart-‘then they make me go to work for those marvos! Black people! Oh my God!’ (Eugenides 136) She can hardly speak English and is brand new to America but already feels like she should be above the blacks. In present day Detroit, 8 mile is still known as the divider. Everyone knows the story and some still live by it. From my own personal experience, my grandfather won’t come to my one and only home track meet because it means crossing 8 mile. And that he will not do.

There is still a sense of despair that hangs over the south side of 8 mile. The buildings show it and so do the people. The litter, the graffiti, abadoned and burned down houses, the homeless walking the streets, give it away that Detroit is definetly a city of ruins and is in need of all the help it can get. By the sounds of this novel, Detroit has been this way for a while.

~Alexandria Vintevoghel

Would like to use in my final essay

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5 Responses to “Crossing the Invisible Barrier”

  1. I like the title “crossing the ivisible border”. Cal does have a sort of invisible border and he is really the only person who knows about it. The segregation of Cal is similar to the segregation of the city of detroit. 8 mile divides detroit from the suburbs of detroit, but many of those suburbs don’t look much different from detroit. For example Hazel Park. There is litter, the graffiti, abadoned and burned down houses, the homeless walking the streets in the streets of Hazel Park also, the only difference is there skin color.
    -Arielle K.

  2. I thought your post was so interesting. There really is a divide in everyones lives, and definitely in the city of Detroit. Everyone feels they are better than everyone else.

    -Caitlin Tefend

  3. I like how you used such a simple quote from Desdemona and you magnified it to relate to the way people are in Detroit in general. It is funny how it is instilled in Desdemona’s head as soon as she gets to Detroit.

    Kristen Danyal

  4. The different comparisons you make are good, I like how you integrate the history that we see in the novel to the present day and even your own personal experiences.

    Raymond L.

  5. Very, very good, Alexandria. You may definitely use this. You bring up an excellent point: when, exactly, did Desdemona learn to be apprehensive of black people? Before she even moved to the U.S.? Was Detroit racially divided even BEFORE its citizens got here? Nice work.

    ~Jenna G.


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