English Blog

Middlesex: Book Three & Final Essay Proposal April 13, 2010

Filed under: Middlesex — writing4english @ 12:39 PM

Life isn’t always a bed of roses, especially for Cal in Jeffery Eugenides “Middlesex”. In Book Three of the novel, particularly in the last few chapters, Calliope begins experiencing the dreaded, awkward stage of puberty. At this point of Cal’s life, her identity begins to change both physically and emotionally. In the seventh grade her “previously frozen body” went through a “growth spurt of uncommon proportions and unforseeable consequences” (Eugenides 303) and she grew her hair utterly long that she seemed to hide behind like a diguise. Despite the “hopeful signs” (295), she had yet to develop breats or experience a menstrual cycle. At one point she was so upset that she “burst into tears of frustration and rage” (288). Of course many pre-teen and teenage girls long for these things, but Cal also had to deal with unwanted facial hair, being that she is a “genetic male raised as a girl” (304). Most readers become extremely sympathetic towards Cal because being that puberty is already uncomfortable as it is, she has to experience both a male and female phsycial changes. In the novel, she grows her hair extremely long, which turns out to be untamed and quite frizzy. As I meantioned earlier, Calliope uses her hair to hide her secret. She almost always kept her head down, with her hair covering her more masculine features, such as her “tinsel teeth” and “satyrical nose” (306). She even dreams of “someday living inside it” (306). Overall, she uses her hair to mask her insecurities that she can’t get rid of. Like many teengers, body image is a sensitive topic because so many are unsatisfied and embaressed by their phsycial features.

1. The essay topic I chose was #3D sybolism. I will be dicussing symbols used in the novel like Desdemona’s corset, Cal’s hair and Cal’s double breasted suit, to express transformation into womanhood, insecurities of purberty, stereotypical masculinity.

2. I was hoping to use the blog 3 (the part about Cal’s hair) and maybe blog 1 in my essay (Desdemona and Lefty’s relationship). 

3. Thesis statement: Jeffery Eugenides’ “Middlesex” uses sybolism heavily in his novel to express , like Cal’s untamed hair and Desmonda’s white corset, to represent the transformation the characters are experiencing at crucial points in their lives.

4. Bodies in Doubt: An American History of Intersex by Elizabeth Reis- discusses how intersexed teenagers are confused and doubtful about what gender they really are.

5. I’m not sure if Cal’s suit is a strong enough use of symbolism for his masculinity. I kind of stuck when it comes to another object I can use for symbolism. If not the suit, I was thinking of using the silk worms? Also as I was writing my proposal, I felt like parts of it sounded like essay topic #1 (sex, gender, sexuality and/or body) and #3?

Danielle Harteau

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2 Responses to “Middlesex: Book Three & Final Essay Proposal”

  1. I think you did a really good job piecing this all together because its very easy to understand and relate to. I was very self conscious most of my life so i like how you brought it up because i think most teens are, but no one really wants to talk about it.
    -Breanna

  2. OK. Here goes:

    Blog-good stuff. I like the way that you incorporated the quotes seamlessly into your own text. Nice work.

    Proposal-Great topic. I love it. You can use both blog posts. Your thesis is good, but you have to rearrange the words a little (read it out loud). Great source. Use it.

    #5: Cal’s suit is definitely usable. I have more quotes about Cal that will help support this point if you need them. Also, as you continue to read, keep your eyes peeled for new Cal quotes. That being said, you can also easily relate silk worms if you want (corset is made of silk? Hair is like silk threads? How many of these things you describe are “cocoon-like” to enable the “transformation”?). But you don’t have to if it is too complicated or too much to write about.

    ~Jenna G.


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