Literature Study GuidesMiddlesexBook 3 Chapter 20 Summary

Middlesex | Study Guide

Jeffrey Eugenides

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Middlesex | Book 3, Chapter 20 : Flesh and Blood | Summary

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Summary

Callie fakes her period: "I did cramps the way Meryl Streep did accents," she says. She flushes a "flotilla of unused tampons," convincing her mother to cancel the upcoming visit to the gynecologist. The trip to Bursa, complicated by the Turkish incursions into Cyprus, is also canceled.

It is 1974, Richard Nixon is embroiled in the Watergate scandal, and Cyprus is being cut in half. Milton alienates his friends, those gathered at Sunday dinner, by his unequivocal support for Nixon and American foreign policy.

Guests at the Stephanides's house, except Father Mike and Aunt Zoë, leave, never to return. Milton storms out. Tessie is upset. Father Mike comforts her.

Callie goes up to the Object's summerhouse near Petoskey. At Callie's arrival, Jerome shows her around. After flirting, smoking pot, drinking, and kissing, Callie and Jerome have sex. Callie realizes immediately that she is not a girl, but something else. She is sure that Jerome knows, too. He hasn't noticed a thing.

Analysis

Cal, looking back at the scene and the obviousness of the boy's plan to take advantage of the girls, asks himself if he can see through male tricks because he will scheme that way himself one day. He further wonders if girls can see through the tricks and "pretend not to notice." Is she complicit in using drugs and alcohol to get the girl? Callie is learning from Jerome, not just about sex, but about the privileges of maleness.

Callie feels a searing pain when Jerome enters her, very much as a girl might when losing her virginity. However, it isn't her hymen breaking, but her undescended testicles that bring her pain. Somehow she knows from this experience that she is not really a girl. Girl talk, with her mother or with friends, would probably include intimate details, such as the potential for pain in intercourse. Because Callie never had these talks, she assumes the pain makes her "other." In fact, the pain may possibly be the most "normal" thing about her interaction.

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