Study Guide

Middlesex Book 2, Chapter 1

By Jeffrey Eugenides

Book 2, Chapter 1

Henry Ford's English-Language Melting Pot

  • The setting shifts to Detroit. Calliope is nine and hanging out with her dad. He's afraid of heights.
  • After that memory, we end up in Detroit again, but instead of 1969, we're in 1922.
  • Lefty and Desdemona—once brother and sister, now husband and wife—meet their cousin, Sourmelina Zizmo, née Papadiamandopoulous, which is basically the best Greek name besides Jesse Katsopolis.
  • They tell Lina that they're married and she agrees to keep their secret.
  • They all move in together, and Lina's husband, Jimmy Zizmo, gets Lefty a job at the Ford Motor Company.
  • One notable incident occurs when Lefty starts doing better than expected. Someone sabotages his station, saying "Don't try to be a speed king. You understand? We all have to work faster that way" (2.1.170).
  • Henry Ford didn't just revolutionize the auto industry, he was also a disgusting, racist, anti-Semitic, borderline white supremacist. Oops, we got a little carried away there. Oh wait—no we didn't.
  • Ford makes all his employees, including Lefty, undergo an "Americanization" class. They even teach him the "right" way to brush his teeth! (Flip-top head optional.)
  • Right after graduation, they give Lefty the axe. The reason: guilty by association with Jimmy Zizmo, who has a police record. "Mixing with the wrong crowd can sink you" (2.1.258), is the advice accompanying the pink slip.