English Blog

Stephanides Family Identity April 20, 2010

Filed under: Middlesex — writing4english @ 12:26 PM

The family history of the past three generations before Cal was more than significant in the role of determining his future. As a result of their decisions, Cal’s grandparents and parents caused Cal to face a lifetime filled with various emotions. Although Cal was apart of the Stephanides family he was much different, not only sexually but in his outlook towards life and those around him. There are many examples in the text that show how Cal was viewed by others but I thought that the most significant were those including his parents. In book two Cal describes his sexual differences and also tells of how Milton saw it in his eyes as he says, ” My father was even more squeamish. In the rare times he diapered me or gave me a bath, Milton studiously averted his eyes”. (Eugenedies 226) I believe this helps to explain the avoiding of reality that both Milton and Tessie portray throughout the text. Another important area of the novel is discussed in book four when Cal states “My parents had at first refused to believe the emergency room doctor’s wild claim about my anatomy.” (Eugenides 401) Cal’s parents had chosen to deny the truth, just as they had been for so many years suppressing reality. Milton and Tessie were fully conscious of their decision when they chose to have children just as Lefty and Desdemona, but each were blinded by emotions and the control of what they thought was true love. Cal was so much different than everyone else I think they were  confused on who he really was. He was born with  both genital characteristics but Cal was still a real person, therefore the choice is to look beyond what our eyes can see and then we can understand what lies inside.

Raymond L.


If your lucky, you’ll always have your family to fall back on. April 19, 2010

Filed under: Middlesex — writing4english @ 4:37 PM

I think one of the most apparent themes in this book was that of family, and the dynamics of. Not only did it talk about how Cal’s family history affected him, or how his raising by his family had its outcomes, but the fact that family is ALWAYS there. When Desdemona and Lefty first came to America, it was with Family that they stayed. And of course, they were family themselves.  And even when Cal did a horrible thing, running away and worrying his parents to death, Tessie was still there with open arms, waiting to accept whatever it was the Cal chose. Chapter Eleven too. Desdemona herself, although feeling guilty, was accepting of Cal. It all comes down to the love of a family. Tessie thought it was her ” … spiritual conection…” ( Eugenides 463 ) that kept her conected to Cal through those months, a spiritual umbilical cord that kept her in constant connection to Cal, letting her know that Cal was still alive. I think it was her love that kept them connected. And it was love that kept their family together through such a hard time. Most people would fall apart through half of what these people went through. But love is miraculous. It can heal all wounds, mend all breaks, and hold people together like the strongest glue. Family is a very uplifting theme in this book, and so is the love of a family.

AKA Borkowski


All Good Things Must Come An End

Filed under: Middlesex — writing4english @ 7:57 AM

            It seems that a major theme in the book Middlesex is how history, especially family history, impacts your future. In the book, if it wasn’t for the relationship between Desdemona and Left, Milton wouldn’t have existed and he wouldn’t have married Tessie. They wouldn’t have had Calliope. The book focuses a lot on the history of the family and spends quite a lot of time explaining just how everything came to be. This does make sense thought, because it is obvious that Calliope didn’t just miraculous come about out of nowhere. He gives a back story of his family, but most importantly he gives a story of how he came to be who he is. Cal’s family history is different from many because there are quite a few twists and turns in his story, but overall the history is of a family they really cared for one another, even if Chapter Eleven ran off. The 5-Alpha-Reductase gene carried through over 250 years of family history, only to show its face and true identity in Calliope. In a way, Calliope was doomed before she or her parents were even thought of, she didn’t know it. That random recessive gene paired with a matching one only to strengthen and carry the gene along further. Callie lived 14 years without a clue of her problems, even though it was obvious that everything was right with her during puberty. No period, no breast, a voice that grew deeper, and height that great larger. These things should have set off alarms, but they didn’t. Both Callie and her parents continued to go on about life without even paying any attention to the condition at hand. They assumed that things would straighten out on their own. I wonder what would have happen if Callie wouldn’t have been running away and ran into that tractor causing her to have to go to the doctor. Would anyone have found out about her condition? After finding out, she was treated at many hospitals and clinics with eyes of wow and disbelief. Not saying that it had never been seen before, but it was definitely a rare case that surely amazed the doctors and nurses. In front of Dr. Luce, Callie put on a cover that she knew wasn’t her. She knew she was in love with the Object and not the Object’s brother, even if they did share a sexual experience. She put on a front as to appear the way that she was supposed to appear. She was afraid because she didn’t want the doctor to find something that was wrong with her, but they did. That 5-Alpha-Reductase gene was visible and screaming for attention, which the doctors were sure to give. After the diagnosis was given to Callie’s parents, they still loved their daughter just as much as they did before. They wanted to help her in anyway that they could, but for Callie she knew being “fixed” as a girl wasn’t what she wanted. So, she packed her bags in her dad’s suitcase, leaving behind ever essence of femininity that she had along with a note for her parents. In her note she was clear to say, “I am not a girl. I’m a boy.” (Eugenides 439). Off there daughter went. Then comes Cal. Cal lives his life from here on out as a male. Cal had an opportunity to experience something that many people don’t get to and that is to live from sides of the sex spectrum. Cal has something special, the ability “communicate between the genders, to see not with the monovision of one sex but in the stereoscope of both” (Eugenides 268). After running away and living life in a new place, where people are unaware of the circumstances of his genetics, tragedy strikes. Cal returns back to where he started as Calliope and is accepted. In the end, the history of the family comes out and comes to an end. The family’s history and strength was what held the family together and Desdemona revealed that she and Lefty were brother and sister. It seemed that everyone in the family had some kind of secret or simply something holding them back. In the end, the story had to move on and all the secrets had to be revealed. The 5-Alpha-Reductase gene was in the family for 250 so years, 3 generations, and was the gene that kept the family together.

-Arielle K.


Beginnings.. April 13, 2010

Filed under: Middlesex — writing4english @ 12:57 PM

There are so many different aspects just from the start of Book Three that I feel could be discussed to examine the identity of Cal. That quote that stood out the most to me as it says on page 221, “I was dimly aware that this beginning was somehow indicative of the rest of my life. My family were around me; I was in the hands of God. But I was in my own, separate element, too submerged in rare sensations, pushing evolution’s envelope.” I feel that this quote helps to bring out the various emotions and thoughts that were running through her mind as she grew to become an entirely different person. I found the elements that were brought out within the same chapter to be of significance as well; the idea of hair and growth, along with the element of baptism that was forced into Cal’s growing history, and also the thoughts of shame and pride that she faced with other people. Calliope grew from infancy to a young girl and then into manhood, just as with hair, it grows and grows even though we can make changes to alter its appearance it is still the same hair. Cal changed who she was and hid under layers of different personalities and characteristics to keep others from knowing too much of who she actually was. I believe that Cal’s baptism was important in that it represents her Greek background and therefore represents where she has come from even with her sexual disoreintation. Milton was forced to let Cal be baptized just as Cal was forced to accept an identity she had not asked for. Lastly, Cal goes on to say in “Opa” that “What is it like to feel free like that? I mean my body is so much better than theirs…But I could never saunter around in public like that”. (pg.233) This quote shows the pride that Cal felt within himself towards those around him, that his body was made different but also better and that therefore Cal should be proud of who he was. Also it explains the fear that was felt if he were to make such a statement in public. Cal’s identity is complex and obviously very different from those around him but that is only his sex, everyone is this society experiences happiness, fear, joy and embarrassment but Cal’s emotions were hidden under things that one could not see.

Raymond L.


Middlesex: Book Three & Final Essay Proposal

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


Peer presure and identity. Hand in Hand they go.

Filed under: Middlesex — writing4english @ 12:37 PM

Peer pressure, like nature and nerture, is one thing that I believe helps define us. Do we crumble when assulted with it, do we stand strong? It’s something that all of us have had to deal with, mutiple different times and on many different levels. And it’s through a late night battle with peer pressure that Cal finally realizes a part of his identity that he would have otherwise surpressed.

I’m talking about the night in the woods. With everyone drinking and smoking, Cal felt as though she too needed to fit in, and once the Object and Rex started making out, she felt the pressure to do so as well. But as she did, she began to realize that it was not Jerome whos flesh she graved, but the Objects. She began to have an out of body experience, and vicariously through Rex she acted upon her own wishes to be physical with The Object. When Jerome had finally started to do the actually deed, she realized through the pain that she was not a girl, but something in between. This thought was only fortified by her realization of “…how natural it had felt to enter Rex Reese’s body,…” ( Eugenides 375)

And although it is not an exact situation like this for some of us, we can all relate to the effects of peer pressure, and the effects it had on us as a person.

AKA Borkowski


A Kaleidoscope of Possibilities… *

Filed under: Middlesex — writing4english @ 12:16 PM
 Though Cal was raised as a female – it makes sense he never had much in common with his brother Chapter 11, but then again he possibly wasn’t in tune with his masculine side… besides the fact he had a crush on the Obscure Object that was a female.
It seems as though the more Cal is writing his story (technically Eugenides is, but still), the more he is finding out about things that contribute to who he is and what everyone else was possibly thinking. He talks about his dad videotaping his birthday party and says that perhaps he should take a look through the eyes of his father.
The difference between us is that when I was younger, I never questioned anything about myself or my family. Of course we all may wonder what we’ll be in the future but I cannot recall questioning my sex or gender. When I was little I would see my brothers playing in the dirt and smashing bugs – I was so thankful that God didn’t want me to be born as a boy.
We are drawn to people we can relate to; hence the reason why I am not particular drawn to Cal. He was drawn to his College girlfriend Olivia because they both experienced hurt early on in their lives (Eugenides 319). We all experience some kind of hurt in different areas of our lives and so far, none of mine can compare to the pain Cal was going through. He (as a girl) had to read in class and when the redhead girl (Obscure Object) walks in he says, “But my mind had stopped paying attention to their meaning” [the words]. I wonder if at any point in his life he stopped paying attention to the meaning of his sex and just lived life. It’s almost as if he was living for everyone else. I think he saw his life through a lens of various colors… almost like a kaleidoscope. Sometimes it made him happy, and sometimes it confused him. He quoted a poem that related to the “galaxies of freckles hurtling and drifting to every end of [the  red-head’s] curved, warm-blooded univerese,” but I think it could relate to my kaleidoscope viewpoint.  “Glory be to God for dappled things” (Eugenides 323).
Quote of the day:
“The universe is flung into a kaleidoscope of new possibilities.” -Jean Houston
Lori E. Allan

Final Essay Proposal

(1)  I’ve chosen essay topic 3. I want to use Cal as a metaphor for Detroit. If possible I would like to use a few other examples of people from the book and relate them to Detroit too. Milton, for example, grows a beard which is compared to the un-manicured lawns in Detroit.

(2)  I want to piece my essay on Detroit as well as my essay on identity. I think it would be good to relate aspects of myself to Detroit as well. Detroit is a part of my identity because I grew up here and I think it would be nice to tie in 2 different lives living in Detroit. Cal lived here a while ago and I lived here when things were changed. I want to talk about the then and now of people, city conditions, and more.

(3)  Middlesex was a metaphorical book that opened up different perspectives on things such as sex, gender, identity, and Detroit; because of this, it provokes the reader to stand in the middle of these topics and view them from different standpoints such as Cal and his relation to Detroit.

(4)  Sources I intend to use are:

  1. Article: Is Anybody Happy in Detroit? By Walter Wasacz. It talks about how we view Detroit as well as how visitors view Detroit. It also talks about the blemishes of Detroit and also uses some information that Dean Vogel from the UDM School of Architecture used in a exhibition last year. I think is a good article to relate to Cal… how people who know him view him, how others view him and the blemishes he has faced.


  1. I plan on using more sources…