Study Guide

Middlesex Book 2, Chapter 5

By Jeffrey Eugenides

Book 2, Chapter 5

Clarinet Serenade

  • Cal thinks he's fallin'… iiiiinnnnnnn…. in love…with Julie Kikuchi.
  • Flash back (well, kind of forward from the last flash back) to 1944. Theodora Zizmo, called Tessie, is listening to her cousin Milton play "Begin the Beguine" on his clarinet.
  • Desdemona wants her son to find a girlfriend, so she starts matchmaking again.
  • He's already found someone, though—his cousin, Tessie. He plays the clarinet not just to her ears, but to her body. "Tessie allowed Milton to press his clarinet to her skin and fill her body with music. […] She felt the vibrations penetrate her muscles, pulsing in waves, until they rattled her bones and made her inner organs hum" (2.5.81). Um, this is the first, and maybe only time, a clarinet solo has made us need a cold shower.
  • Desdemona's matchmaking is unrelenting, and she tries to convince Tessie to marry Michael Antoniou. He's a "good Greek boy, nice boy. […] and going to be a priest!" (2.5.98)… Yes, but how is his erotic clarinet playing?
  • Tessie agrees to marry Mike, and Milton joins the Navy. World War II has begun.