Study Guide

Middlesex Book 4, Chapter 1

By Jeffrey Eugenides

Book 4, Chapter 1

The Oracular Vulva

  • Cal's parents want a second opinion on her genitals, so they take her to the doctor who screwed things up in the first place: Dr. Philbosian.
  • He refers the Stephanides family to a doctor who refers them to another doctor in New York, so off they go to the big apple.
  • It turns out that Dr. Luce is the head of the Sexual Disorders and Gender Identity Clinic at New York Hospital.
  • His waiting room looks like an erotic museum exhibit. Even the paperweight is a penis.
  • Cal tells us that "Peter Luce was considered the world's leading authority on human hermaphrodism" (4.1.69) and the rest of the chapter is a combination of hermaphroditic history and Calliope's psychological evaluation.
  • All you need to know about Calliope's psych eval can be summed up like this: She lies a lot to make herself seem normal… whatever normal is. Oh, and she and Dr. Luce watch porn together. You know, like you do with your doctor.
  • Back in the hotel room, Calliope has a crisis of faith when Milton says she can come home "Soon as [she's] better" (4.1.195). She wonders what he means by better.