Gapers Block has ceased publication.

Gapers Block published from April 22, 2003 to Jan. 1, 2016. The site will remain up in archive form. Please visit Third Coast Review, a new site by several GB alumni.
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Saturday, June 22

Gapers Block

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Book Club
« Jeffrey Eugenides in the New Yorker 100 Best Books? »

Book Club Wed Apr 09 2008

Middlesex Discussion Questions

First, a note: next week's meeting marks the third anniversary of the GB Book Club and we hope to celebrate it with all who come with some tasty treats and drinks on us! Whether you're only able to follow us online or whether you've become one of our regular meeting attendees, we're very glad to have had you along for this literary ride.

Below are the questions we'll use to discuss Jeffrey Eugenides's Middlesex, in which I hope you're all thoroughly and wonderfully engrossed. Feel free to post answers, thoughts or additional questions in the comments. Remember - spoilers are allowed.

  • Do you trust Cal as a narrator? How you feel about the parts where he was narrating his grandparents’ and his parents’ pasts? Were these truthful?
  • Do you feel the author wrote Callie as a woman well? Were her thoughts and actions believable?
  • What role does fate play in the story? How do people either depend on it or challenge it?
  • What is Dr. Luce’s role in the story? Did you find him villainous or merely someone doing their job? What reaction did you have to Luce’s theories as influenced by current beliefs about gender?
  • Why did Callie feel the need to run away after reading Dr. Luce’s report? Do you think Milton and Tessie would have accepted her decision not to have the surgery? Would Callie have been able to transform into Cal within her family or was it necessary for her to go out on her own?
  • Is Cal being exploited during his time in San Francisco? What allows him to put his body on display when all of his life he’s made efforts to hide it?
  • Both Cal and his grandparents are strangers in a strange land. How does Cal’s shift in gender compare to his grandparents’ shift in space? Are they similar experiences of immigration or are they different? How does Cal compare his own changes to that of his grandparents’?
  • How does history shape the lives of these characters? How do the burning of Smyrna, the rise of Islam, the Detroit riots, etc., force the characters to go through their own transformations?
  • What does America represent for these characters – for Desdemona and Lefty, for Milton and Tessie, and for Cal and his brother? Do their visions of America differ based on their status as first-, second- and third-generation immigrants?
  • What do you think of Cal’s current relationship with Julie? How do you think the author wants us to believe it ends?

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