Middlesex Part 2 (pgs. 106–198)

In this section of the book the narrator Cal/Calliope continues to develop his/her family history and the slow build to his/her conception. This section of the book takes place in the United States where Lefty and Desdemona have finally managed to reach Detroit and their cousin Lina. It follows them as they struggle both to survive and to continue the facade of their relationships true origins. One of the bigger plot points also comes from the Depression which leaves a lasting impact on the family. A prevailing aspect of the narrator’s writing is the very unattached speaking when dealing with harrowing subjects. This showed earlier in the book when the narrator described the murder of Dr. Philosobian’s family and then again when introducing the impending darkness of the depression. The narrator says, “On Thursday, October 24, 1929, on Wall Street in New York City, men in finely tailored suits began jumping from the windows of the city’’s famous skyscrapers.” This almost casualness to the topic of death is done by including the detail “finely tailored suits.” The focus on the materials they are wearing separates them form their humanity. This reminded me a lot of the book American Psycho, which is grotesquely violent, but is also nonchalant by having the character be almost obsessive over fashion and other small details. What this does in regards to this book is build more onto the character, who has yet to become the main focus of the book. It made me and I would assume other readers question the narrator’s emotional state and possible inability to deal with death. Eugenides continues to use an immense amount of figurative and metaphorical language to build the strength of emotion in whatever he is talking about. He does this with the Depression when he says, “little by little the dark cloud passed over the nation.” The dark cloud foreshadows what is to come not only with the Depression, but with Lefty and Desdemona’s cracking relationship. Earlier in this section, Eugenides continues to allude to Greek mythology when he refers to the Minotaur. He creates a connection between the viewing of it by Desdemona, Lefty, Lina, and Jimmy, and Cal/Calliope and her father. This parallel in time continues to drive home the theme the author has established of the impact our family and family history impacts us. It also serves to become a comparison between Cal/Calliope and the Minotaur. This becomes an opportunity for the Cal/Calliope to open commentary on our rooting against what is different. While we typically view the Minotaur as a monster, his backstory and creation is something he had no control over. This parallels heavily with Cal/Calliope who had no control over what he/she would become and has been judged and tormented heavily throughout his/her life because of it. The narrator also foreshadows what could be a possible difficulty with his/her differences when revealing the racism of her grandmother. This done when telling the story of when Desdemona goes to work for the African American’s at the nation of Islam. While she overcomes her issues with them, the showing of her initial bias because of tradition could prove to be problematic in the future when Cal/Calliope is born and then goes through her change. The other big thing that happened was that Jimmy Zizmo was alive and was the leader of the Nation of Islam. This reveal was really bizarre and I didn’t really understand what it’s point was, as he leave as abruptly as he was introduced. That’s something I’m definitely going to reread, and try and figure out if the author was making a point regarding something. I’m still really ready for the full on introduction of Cal/Calliope as a character instead of little snippets of her life.