Literature Study GuidesMiddlesexBook 3 Chapter 13 Summary

Middlesex | Study Guide

Jeffrey Eugenides

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Middlesex | Book 3, Chapter 13 : OPA! | Summary



It is 1967, and Milton is facing the possibility that he will go out of business. Detroit is increasingly tense. Milton sleeps with a gun under his pillow. Race riots had broken out in Watts and in Newark. Race relations in Detroit are fraught and fraying.

Hearing that rioting has started in Detroit, Milton runs to the diner with his gun. The rest of the family watches the death toll rise on television. When a black neighbor comes to the diner in search of cigarettes, he is shot by snipers as he lights his cigarette. President Johnson sends federal troops. As tanks roll down the street, Callie at seven and a half years old rides her bike to the diner and sees the violence. As Callie reaches the diner, she sees her friend Marius throw a Molotov cocktail through the front window of the diner.

Milton starts to put out the fire but stops when he realizes that the diner is worth more burned to the ground than it is whole.

OPA is what Greeks shout, in popular culture, at weddings and celebrations, while dancing and breaking plates. Marius shouts it as he throws the Molotov cocktail into the diner.


When Cal is nervous, he sounds conservative and male, retreating into performing as a middle-aged male like his father, who doesn't see nuance when dealing with the black customers at his diner.

Everyone shows their true character in this chapter:

  • Desdemona believes that if Milton had fixed the church as she promised in her prayers to St. Christopher, none of this would be happening.
  • Chapter Eleven is worried about his trip to Radio Shack—he is both spoiled and somewhat of a mechanical genius.
  • Tessie is concerned for her family.
  • Callie is concerned for the rioters.
  • Milton is unambiguous in his plans and does not stop for a moment to second guess his initial decision to protect the diner with his gun.

Callie, at age seven and a half, is developing a mistrust of authority.

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