Literature Study GuidesMiddlesexBook 3 Chapter 15 Summary

Middlesex | Study Guide

Jeffrey Eugenides

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Middlesex | Book 3, Chapter 15 : The Mediterranean Diet | Summary

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Summary

Cal and Julie enjoy a weekend together and use the word we, though they do not sleep together. Cal is frightened of having to reveal himself to her. He doesn't call Julie again or return her calls.

Desdemona remains in bed as her hypochondria goes into overdrive. Cal notes that at 70, "the strain of having no one to care for but herself aged her overnight." Milton starts on a new business venture—hot dog stands, which take off and make Milton a comfortably wealthy man.

As they grow up, Chapter Eleven is geeky, and Callie is thin and beautiful in an androgynous way. However, when Callie turns 12 her classmates show external signs of puberty while she does not.

Desdemona is interviewed for a story on the Mediterranean Diet; the doctor believes her to be 91 years old.

The desegregation of Detroit schools touches Grosse Pointe. Judge Roth, who issued the original order, has ordered bussing for the entire Detroit metropolitan area.

Analysis

Eugenides continues to weave historical fact into his fiction. It moves his characters from place to place. At 12, Callie is terribly concerned about systemic injustice; adult Cal is not an activist. In the present tense the book is less steeped in history than when it is looking toward the past.

Callie is used to being prized for her beauty. Although still pretty, her beauty starts to be overlooked. As other girls mature, she recedes from the forefront. Her brother's sexual awakening highlights Callie's own lack of sexual development.

Because Tessie is so modest, Callie has not had a conversation about puberty or sex. She is muddled about female puberty—Callie's understanding of what happens to the female body is very much the understanding of a young child who has no sisters. She sees Chapter Eleven break out and knows he is masturbating; her information about male pubescence comes from observing her brother, like any girl might. Her information about female puberty comes from observation as well, but here, she is limited to nonfamily members and schoolmates.

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