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Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides - Book Club Discussion Questions

Middlesex - Book Club Questions


Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides is told by Cal, a hermaphrodite who was raised as a girl until adolescence. Cal tells the story of his family of Greek immigrants over three generations, weaving a tale of mythic quality. Use these book club discussion questions on Middlesex to aid in your reading or help your group discuss Eugenides' well acclaimed book.

Spoiler Warning: These book club discussion questions on Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides reveal important details about the book. Finish reading before looking at these questions.

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  1. In what ways is Middlesex like stories in Greek mythology? Do you think it is a modern day myth?

  2. Middlesex is divided into four books, and Cal is not even born until Book III. Why do you think he felt the need to tell so much of his grandparents' and parents' stories in order to tell about his own life?

  3. Middlesex covers a lot of contemporary history, starting in 1922. Are there some historic events that you learned more about from the book? The burning of Smyrna? The founding of the Nation of Islam? The Detroit race riots?

  4. Were you surprised by Lefty and Desdemona's courtship and marriage? Could you understand why they fell in love? Do you think their marriage was morally wrong?

  5. In what ways is Callie's life as a hermaphrodite similar to her family's lives as immigrants--not quite one thing or the other?

  6. Why do you think Tessie was drawn to Milton?

  7. Were you surprised by Father Mike's extortion and plan to abandon his family? Were their hints about his character earlier in the novel?

  8. In what ways was Callie's relationship with the Obscure Object unique and in what ways was it like normal adolescent sexual exploration?

  9. Why did Callie feel the need to run away after reading Dr. Luce's report? Do you think her parents could have accepted her decision not to have the surgery? Could Callie have changed her identity if she did not go out on her own?

  10. What is your opinion of Dr. Luce?

  11. Do you think Cal's relationship with Julie worked out? Did he, in his adult narrator self, change during the novel?

  12. Rate Middlesex on a scale of 1 to 5.
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