Study Guide

Middlesex Book 3, Chapter 7

By Jeffrey Eugenides

Book 3, Chapter 7

The Obscure Object

  • Present-day Cal tells us about his college girlfriend, Olivia. They were both "emotionally adolescent" (3.7.3) and good for each other at the time, but they didn't last.
  • He tells us about a few more "incomplete seductions" (3.7.2) before heading back in time to boarding school, and his meeting with the Obscure Object.
  • The Obscure Object (name changed to protect the semi-innocent) is a red-haired new girl at Calliope's boarding school. Calliope gets the name from the film That Obscure Object of Desire, a film about obsessive love. Guess it's better than naming her after Shallow Hal or something.
  • Being around the Obscure Object arouses Calliope. Quite literally. She starts referring to her genitals as a crocus. "A pink stem pushing up through dark new moss. […] The crocus sometimes felt soft and slippery, like the flesh of a worm. At other times it was as hard as a root" (3.7.56).
  • Calliope helps the Obscure Object study her lines while they prepare to perform Antigone. The Obscure Object is Antigone, and Calliope is Tiresias.
  • The Obscure Object makes Calliope feel cool, especially since Calliope seems to know more about sex than the Object does.
  • Before the play, they have a minor spat. Calliope is trying to encourage the Object, and the Object pushes her away because she wants to practice her lines in private.
  • Calliope takes the rejection hard, saying "I stood in the darkness, wishing I were dead" (3.7.156).
  • Be careful what you wish for, Cal: Another student named Maxine Grossinger drops dead in the middle of the play from an aneurysm. R.I.P, Maxine.
  • Calliope doesn't have time to mourn poor Maxine, though—the Obscure Object is in her arms needing comfort, and Calliope can't be anything but happy.