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What is the point of view in the novel Middlesex? Why does Eugenides use this point of...

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rglikes | Student, Undergraduate | (Level 1) eNoter

Posted January 9, 2012 at 2:52 AM via web

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What is the point of view in the novel Middlesex? Why does Eugenides use this point of view?

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clairewait | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

Posted January 9, 2012 at 4:27 AM (Answer #1)

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The point of view in Middlesex is the first person perspective of Cal (once Calliope) Stephanides.  The book opens with the adult Cal, telling his story and the story of his family.  The narrator was born with a very rare genetic mutation which manifests itself in ambiguous sexual organs at birth.  Raised as a girl, Calliope discovers around the time of puberty, that she looks, thinks, and feels different from other girls.  When she comes to realize she is a hermaphrodite (essentially), her family's past and her own future collide in an unfolding of self-discovery.

The multifaceted story that unfolds is ultimately the telling of Callie's transformation into Cal.  This transformation is complicated enough on its own, but further complicated by deep seeded family, religious, and cultural traditions.  The first-person point of view, though technically limited, is actually necessary in order for Cal's true feelings and full story to be told.  Ultimately, he is the one who is both a man and a woman, and therefore the only one who can accurately explain the full story of his life struggle.

Eugenides explained in an interview with Oprah, that he first got the idea for this novel when he was introduced to the character Tiresias from Greek Mythology.  He was fascinated by the idea of a character who could be both male and female.  As a writer, it was his goal to get into the minds of both men and women, and Eugenides realized such a character could provide a more omniscient insight, even through a first-person point of view.  This is where the seeds of Middlesex were first planted.

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