Literature Study GuidesMiddlesexBook 2 Chapter 8 Summary

Middlesex | Study Guide

Jeffrey Eugenides

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Middlesex | Book 2, Chapter 8 : Tricknology | Summary

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Summary

As it turns out, Desdemona has stumbled into working for the Nation of Islam, going in and out the back door. "The temple's front doors, in a sweet reversal ... let blacks in and kept whites out."

Desdemona reevaluates what she knows and understands about black people and about Muslims. She hears Minister Fard speaking loudly, declaring the whites have "COME TO DOMINATE THE BLACK NATION THROUGH TRICKNOLOGY." Over time, Desdemona begins to see racism in the actions of the white people in her community.

Lefty, meanwhile, has entered a new business; he is trafficking photos of pretty women, luxuriantly and provocatively posed in cars.

One of Fard's alleged followers murders someone in what the papers call a "human sacrifice." Fard is forced to leave the mosque, and Desdemona loses her job. However, before she leaves, she discovers Mr. Fard is Jimmy Zizmo. "Fard Muhammad, my maternal grandfather, returned to the nowhere from which he'd come."

Desdemona decides to get her tubes tied.

Analysis

Eugenides explicitly and sympathetically exposes Desdemona to racism and its implications in Detroit. Cal is troubled by Detroit; his love of Berlin is somewhat predicated on the optimism of its reunification. He says early in the book that he is from a city still torn in two by racism. Race is forefront in this chapter and will continue to play a larger role as the narrative continues.

Desdemona tries on new identities in this chapter. Having her tubes tied pulls her away from the village; it is a modern surgery, and she is a young woman. She is questioning her beliefs, her complicity in oppression, and her privilege. Naturally, this causes her to question her relationship with Lefty. Her guilt over their misdeeds continues to shape her.

Cal, speaking of himself in the first person and telling the story of his family in the third, with intermittent asides, turns to the second person in this chapter. "Surely you've guessed by now," he confides. "That's right: Jimmy Zizmo."

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