Chapter 21 Summary

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The twenty-first chapter, “The Gun on the Wall,” begins the next morning when Callie wakes up and showers thoroughly. When she goes downstairs, the Object is angry at her for sleeping with Jerome. Callie returns upstairs and cries into her pillow. Jerome enters and begins to kiss her, but Callie stops him. Jerome and the Object spend the rest of the day out of the house and Callie is forced to spend time with Mr. and Mrs. Object until she finally retires and cries herself to sleep. When the Object comes home, she lies down on the bed and falls asleep. Callie shifts over the bed until she is on top of the Object. When she slips off the Object’s underpants, the latter lifts her hips “very slightly, to make it easier for me. This was her only contribution.” The next morning, they act as though nothing has changed between them, though the Object is no longer interested in Rex’s advances.

Cal explains that “through all this I made no lasting conclusions about myself.” He goes on to say:

what I saw looking down at myself was only the dark triangular badge of puberty. When I touched the corsus it expanded, swelling until with a kind of pop it slid free of the pouch it was in. It poked its head up into the air. Not too far, though. No more than an inch past the tree line. What did this mean? I knew from personal experience that the Object had a crocus of her own. It swelled, too, when touched … The crucial feature was this: the crocus didn’t have a hole at the tip. This was certainly not what a boy had. Put yourself in my shoes, reader, and ask yourself what conclusion you would have come to about your own sex, if you had what I had, if you looked the way I looked.

Each night, Callie and the Object continue to press against each other, with Callie on top. Cal points out that their lesbian relationship “was happening more than ever in 1974. It was becoming a national pastime.”

Eventually, however, their relationship is revealed. Though the Object initially seems to be asleep during the girls’ embraces, one day while on the porch swing, the Object rests atop Callie. Callie slips her thumb into the Object’s pants. They are interrupted by Jerome, who is dressed as a vampire for his film. He calls them “carpet munchers,” and he slowly reduces his sister to tears. Jerome promises Callie that he will not tell anyone since “most guys wouldn’t be so happy to find out that they’d been two-timed by a lesbian with their own sister. It’s sort of embarrassing.” However, when he says “you know where you are now? Splitsville, Stephanides. Get out of her and don’t come back. And keep your hands off my sister,” Callie tackles Jerome, mounts him, and spits on him. Humiliated, Jerome pushes Callie off of him and she runs away. She races from the house and when she turns around to see whether Jerome is gaining, she sees him waving at her in the distance. And then suddenly a “tractor had just made a turn onto the road. High in his seat, the farmer didn’t see me. I was looking back to check on Jerome.”

When she wakes up, she is being taken to the hospital. The Object is with her, crying, and they kiss. At the hospital, the doctor begins checking her organs for injury, and when Callie says that the pressure hurts her, they remove her clothing. During the routine, “the doctor bent closer, mumbling to himself. The intern, rather unprofessionally, raised one hand to her throat and then pretended to fix her collar.” Cal explains that “Chekhov was right. If there’s a gun on the wall, its’ got to go off. In real life, however, you never know where the gun is hanging.”

Later, back in Middlesex, Callie sits in the kitchen eating mulberries while Tessie cries in the bedroom. Callie has scheduled an appointment with a famous doctor in New York.

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Chapter 20 Summary


Chapter 22 Summary