Chapter 25 Summary

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The twenty-fifth chapter, “Gender Dysphoria in San Francisco,” begins with Cal on the road in another car. His driver, Bob Presto, used to work for the radio (he does not mention what he does now), and he prides himself on his voice. He questions Cal, who still claims to be headed to Stanford. When Presto asks where Stanford is, Cal dodges the question. Presto also mentions that he had thought Cal might be a woman based on his stance on the side of the road. When Cal asks to be let out, Presto stops asking questions. However, when they arrive in San Francisco, Presto admits that he knows Cal is not a college student and asks whether Cal is a transvestite. Cal prepares to leave, but Presto tells him to at least take his number because he might be able to help.

Back in New York, Cal explains, Tessie and Milton are furious with Dr. Luce, and they blame him for Cal’s running away. Milton demands to see the file that Cal read. At first, Dr. Luce refuses and suggests that they have more important things to worry about, such as depression and dysphoria. However, they eventually do see the file and learn that Dr. Luce has not told them about Cal’s chromosomes either. They return to Detroit, where others are aware that Cal has run away, but no one knows why. When people call, Tessie is brief, trying to keep the line free. She claims to be able to feel Callie through a spiritual umbilical cord, which gives her hope. Milton, meanwhile, calls the police and posts pictures of Callie at all of his hot dog stands. He soon begins to give Tessie money to buy candles to light at church. Cal’s running away does bring Chapter Eleven back to the family, and though he refuses to eat meat, he has broken up with Meg and does not immediately reject Milton’s offer that he take over the family business.

Cal begins to eat a lot of sweets to cover up the emotional confusion that he is feeling over having run away from home. Up to this point, he has focused on getting to California, but now that he has arrived, he does not know what to do. The sweets soon lose their ability to cheer him up. One day, he is interrupted by a boy who tells Cal that he will show him a place in the park to sleep in exchange for a hamburger. Cal agrees and he meets a group of Deadheads in the park. They read Siddhartha and speculate as to whether Jerry Garcia is the Buddha. The vibe is mellow and peaceful, but there are other groups in the park that are more violent. One night, Cal is watching the Deadheads’ camp and he is attacked by two men. They rob Cal, see his identification, and realize that he is Callie, a girl. However, when they attempt to undress Cal and discover his unusual genitals, they beat him and urinate on him. Cal washes himself in a fountain and decides to call Bob Presto.

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Chapter 24 Summary


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