Literature Study GuidesMiddlesexBook 3 Chapter 16 Summary

Middlesex | Study Guide

Jeffrey Eugenides

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Middlesex | Book 3, Chapter 16 : The Wolverette | Summary

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Summary

Because of desegregation, the Stephanideses put Callie in a private all-girls' school in Grosse Point. She is often in pain, although she doesn't know it is because her testicles "have taken up residence in her abdomen." Her face is changing, her voice is changing, and her eyebrows grow thick. She is self-conscious in the locker room, still having no breasts, no period, and no other outward manifestations of womanhood. Callie is considered freakish now, despite the androgynous beauty standards in vogue in the 1970s. In response Callie grows her hair longer.

Chapter Eleven enters college and dutifully registers for the draft. The Vietnam War would be over by March 1972, but that is still an unknown to the Stephanides family, and Callie is deeply relieved when her brother receives a high draft number. Tessie and Milton begin reading the Great Books series, which plants the idea in Callie that she'd like to write.

Analysis

Callie as an adolescent becomes less concerned with politics and the oppressed. As Eugenides writes of the events of the 70s—college students marching against the war, bombs secretly being dropped on Cambodia, the resignation of Nixon—rather than protesting, as Callie has done in earlier chapters, she protests solely against cutting her own hair.

As Callie's body changes and she becomes odder and odder looking, she turns inward. No longer can her emotional energy be engaged with the disenfranchised. She spends her energy figuring out how to change without ever being naked, how to get out of showering in a group, how to figure out what is happening to her.

The chapter is named "The Wolverette" after the mascot of Callie's new school. The mascot is furry and enigmatic, and it is difficult to tell if it is smiling or snarling. She, like Callie, is difficult to read.

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