English Blog

Detroit is two sided. Cal is two sided. April 6, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — writing4english @ 9:47 AM

“Detroit was made of wheels” (Eugenides 79). Detroit in many ways is a two sided  city. It was booming in the early 1900’s, and then died off in the late 1900’s. It is separated between whites and blacks. It has the look of a true city, but the feel of a fallen one. Cal is also two sided. In book 2, Cal introduces the city from how he remembers it. He was a girl at this point in the story, so looking back he sees someone different. One of the beginning stories he tells is about his lunch date with his father atop the Pontchartrain Hotel. They were above the entire city, and his father was extremely afraid. Even though Milton was afraid though, he still made that day, a memorable one. He went through a brief “history less” with Cal. he showed Cal a few important things from atop the hotel. While the two remained looking at the city from the sky point of view, Desdemona and Lefty looked at it from a train window. They had come from Ellis Island, and made it to a city that was sure to be their home. Desdemona had cut off her immigrant braids in preparation of their new lives in Detroit. Lefty and Desdemona gazed at all the sights as the train blew past…However, these sights looked different than the sights that Milton and Cal saw at the top of the Pontchartrain Hotel. Although they were seen in a different light, “the wheels hadn’t vanished at all, they’d just changed form” (Eugenides 81). I feel this quote sums up the entire feeling of Detroit. When Cal and his family first moved to Detroit, it was a city of opportunity. Little did they know, later during their time in Detroit, things changed.  Outsiders come and look at the city, and all they see is garbage, ghetto, and a city that failed. Others, who have lived here for a long time, see it as a city with potential. A city that was once thriving, and now cannot seem to get back on its feet. It all has to do with perspective. Cal is perceived as a boy in some cases, and a girl in others. Detroit is seen as good in some instances, and bad in others. The two complement each other.

As present in book 2, people and things are not as they seem. Take the accident of Jimmy Zizmo in the lake. Everyone thought he was dead, but it turns out he was far from it. Everyone thought that Detroit was the new up and coming city, but it was definitely far from it. In the beginning, Detroit seemed to be everything everyone ever wanted. Then it took a downfall which is what we see now. “Over the years, black bottom, for all the whites’ attempts to contain it. Laws of poverty and racism would slowly spread, street by street, neighborhood by neighborhood until the so called ghetto would become the city itself… By the 1970’s, in the no-tax-base, white-flight, murder-capital Detroit of the Coleman Young administration, black people could live where they want to” (Eugenides 142). This is the sum up of Detroit today. 

-Caitlin Tefend

like to be considered for my final paper.


6 Responses to “Detroit is two sided. Cal is two sided.”

  1. I really like this post. You really dug deep with the quote that you have chosen and i think you did a great job of analyzing it. I also agree that people who lived in detroit a long time ago are going to have a different perspective then the people who just see it now.

    -Brittany Cifka

  2. good job wonton just explain that last quote more. Good point on how Cal and Milton saw Detroit differently than Lefty and Desdemona
    Olivia Lewis

  3. I like how you made all the connections to all the different things that are two sided. Very nice.

    Aka. Borkowski

  4. I like your post. I think it’s interesting how we get different points of view on Detroit in the novel because it gives readers a better idea of what everyones going through personally.

    Danielle Harteau

  5. You can definitely use this, Caitlin. Good stuff. I agree with Olivia (wonton?). But this is good. Missed ya in class.

    ~Jenna G.

  6. i loved this……it was totally true and hit the nail right on the head lol. This is very similiar to how i look at it too so i can totally relate to what youre saying. Good post!

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