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jlustick's picture

Middlesex Book 1

Professor Grobstein’s suggestion that biology, like literature, is composed of a complex network of stories relates to the novel Middlesex, in which the author Jeffrey Eugenides uses the lack of biological fact or certainty to create a compelling literary narrative. Although Book One does not really develop the sexual/gender complications that yesterday’s class discussion focused on, it does expose the way in which individual identity is simply a kind of story. For example, Desdemona and Lefty create a fictional history which then shapes their interactions and allows them to build a relationship accepted by their culture. What does it mean that this relationship is not one grounded in truth or fact? According to Professor Grobstein, such is an irrelevant point, for truth and fact do not actually exist. While, I can accept the fact that there is not such thing as an absolute, objective statement, I think that there can still be lies or clear evasions of the truth. It is this sense of lying or hiding that causes people to feel guilt. Despite her love for Lefty, Desdemona still feels guilty at the thought of marrying her brother and rejecting her cultural norms. At the same time, however, Desdemona’s intimate involvement with Lefty is unbelievably honest for it gets at the heart of their most basic human desires. Thus, we have a bit of a catch-22 situation: if Desdemona marries Lefty, she must lie about her historic relationship to him as a sister; if Desdemona refuses to marry Lefty, she conceals or burries her passion for her brother. Determining which lie is of greater consequence often influences gender/sexuality conversations. Individuals who are cemented in the idea of a pure gender binary may believe that individuals who are transgender are “lying” to society about their gender. Are they? Why does society care about such lies?

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