Literature Study GuidesMiddlesexBook 4 Chapter 26 Summary

Middlesex | Study Guide

Jeffrey Eugenides

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Middlesex | Book 4, Chapter 26 : Hermaphroditus | Summary



Cal has started performing at Sixty-Niners, a sex club in San Francisco that is owned by Bob Presto, who has realized he can make money from Cal's unusual anatomy. Performing as a character named Hermaphroditus, for four months, Cal makes his living by exhibiting the "peculiar way I am formed." He performs with two other girls; Carmen is a pre-op male-to-female transsexual, and Zora has Androgen Insensitivity.

Cal moves in with Zora, who is writing a book about hermaphrodism. "Her politics consisted of studying and writing," he says.

At home, Tessie is despondent over no longer feeling connected to Callie. Milton receives mysterious phone calls from someone asking if he wants to know where his daughter is, but he doesn't tell Tessie about the disturbing calls.

Cal reads everything that Zora gives him; he is particularly interested in the cultural understandings of hermaphrodism.

Sixty-Niners is raided by the police. Cal calls home, and Chapter Eleven tells him that Milton is dead.


San Francisco has traditionally been a mecca for gender nonconformists, including homosexuals and transsexuals. The Intersex movement started in San Francisco. It is here that Cal finally begins to feel like he isn't alone. He no longer feels monstrous.

Cal continually suggests that he isn't political. Yet, in suggesting that Zora's politics were studying and writing, it is clear that writing this book is, as mentioned before, a grand political gesture. He is taking himself from the "other" and making himself "normal," no medical procedures needed. According to Cal, there is no normal, and if there is no normal, then it is all normal.

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