Literature Study GuidesMiddlesexBook 4 Chapter 25 Summary

Middlesex | Study Guide

Jeffrey Eugenides

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Middlesex | Book 4, Chapter 25 : Gender Dysphoria in San Francisco | Summary



Bob Presto picks up Cal and becomes intrigued by him. "What are you anyway?" he asks as he drops Cal off in San Francisco. Cal doesn't answer but accepts Bob's phone number.

Cal's parents frantically look for Callie in New York City. Callie's photo appears everywhere, but "biology [is] perfecting [her] disguise by the day." After a week, they return to Michigan. With his daughter missing, the friends that Milton had alienated come back into the fold. Father Mike tries to comfort Tessie. Milton persuades Chapter Eleven to come visit and then to take a job with the hot dog empire.

Cal takes up with some Deadhead boys who live in Golden Gate Park. One night, while the boys are away, Cal is robbed and beaten by a group of homeless men. They pull down his pants and see his genitals and kick him savagely, then urinate on him. Cal calls Bob Presto, who comes to pick him up.


In San Francisco Cal is feeling increasingly lost. He hangs out with kids he would not have known in normal circumstances, but he does not speak their language. In running away, he had not envisioned his life because he was running from something, but toward nothing. He cannot escape himself and finds himself depressed. Thus, he feels dysphoria, or an unease and a dissatisfaction with his life.

Cal is treated brutally by men who cannot understand what he is. His savage beating is reminiscent of mobs going after monsters with pitchforks and fire.

Milton and Tessie are treated sympathetically by their friends, but all of them find a bit of enjoyment in their pain. Like Cal, neither male nor female, they are neither friend nor foe, but performing as friends.

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