Literature Study GuidesMiddlesexBook 2 Chapter 6 Summary

Middlesex | Study Guide

Jeffrey Eugenides

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Middlesex | Book 2, Chapter 6 : Minotaurs | Summary



Cal, in the first-person present tense of his current story, is in Berlin. He has scheduled a first date with Julie Kikuchi, the girl with the bicycle he spotted on the train in a previous chapter.

In the past Lefty takes Desdemona, Lina, and Zizmo to a play that has overt sexuality. Cal, in the present, calls the night The Simultaneous Fertilization as both women become pregnant that evening. Zizmo begins to take Lefty on rum-running expeditions, importing alcohol from Canada during Prohibition.

Dr. Philobosian reappears. Zizmo begins to suspect his wife of cheating on him with Lefty. In a jealous rage Zizmo drives Lefty onto an icy lake, ostensibly to drive to Canada to pick up booze. Lefty jumps from the car after Zizmo accuses him of fathering Lina's baby, but Zizmo dies after his car goes through the ice.

Desdemona has a boy named Militiades but called Milton. Lina has a girl named Theodora, but she is also given an American nickname, although the narrator is coy about what it is. Both of them have one mutation on their fifth chromosome.


Eugenides plays with written language in this chapter, emphasizing the absurdity of The Simultaneous Fertilization by using nonconforming capitalization. His use of language conveys the narrator's delight and perhaps his disbelief at the coincidence. Both his parents conceived on the same night, in the same house—if ever there was a use for capital letters, this would be it.

The chapter is rife with classical machinations; coincidence moves the plot forward. The conception of the babies, the return of the long-lost Dr. Philobosian, and the possibility of a faked death alludes to both classic and soap opera love stories. These tropes are so familiar that horror of a baby born to siblings and an unhinged and angry father take on a more comfortable and easy tone. Cal can continue his story.

The chapter title, Minotaurs, is an allusion to both the play that the couples see and the Greek monster, the Minotaur. The monster is born of intercourse between a human woman, Queen Pasiphae of Crete, and a beautiful bull. He is so monstrous that King Midas has a labyrinth built in which to house him. Desdemona, hearing Dr. Philobosian's tales of babies being born to incestuous couples, is terrified of bearing a monster.

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