Literature Study GuidesMiddlesexBook 4 Chapter 24 Summary

Middlesex | Study Guide

Jeffrey Eugenides

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Middlesex | Book 4, Chapter 24 : Go West, Young Man | Summary

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Summary

Callie takes a bus to Pennsylvania, buys a suit, and gets a haircut. The hair has been her shield. The barber, raging against the long hair of hippies, tells Cal/Callie, "you won't regret it. Women don't want a guy looks like a girl."

Cal decides to go west and hitchhikes. He is picked up by a trucker who lets him off in Ohio. Somewhere in Iowa, Cal is picked up by an elderly couple in an RV, who treat him like a son. Cal is becoming male-identified. Using the men's restroom is the hardest adjustment.

Cal is picked up by a suave man named Ben Scheer, who takes him to a steakhouse and buys him a drink and dinner. After more drinks, Scheer stops at a motel and gets a separate room for Cal but drunkenly tries to have sex with him. Cal puts him off and leaves early the next morning. He is picked up by a man named Bob Presto, who had observed him with Scheer in the restaurant the night before. He offers Cal a ride to California.

Analysis

Cal begins to feel like a boy when his performance as a boy is accepted without question. The elderly couple from a suburb of New York City could easily be grandparents of a friend; they aren't "freaks" or homosexuals, and they aren't trying to take advantage of him. It is their unquestioning acceptance of him as a boy that convinces him that he is a boy.

He stops himself from crying, sitting on the curb outside a motel in middle America because crying can be perceived as feminine.

Always musing on fate and choice, when Cal gets into Bob Presto's car, it is because "I didn't have, at that point, much choice in the matter."

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