Study Guide

Middlesex Fate and Free Will

By Jeffrey Eugenides

Fate and Free Will

Calliope Stephanides may have been named after one of the Muses, but as we watch her life unfold in Middlesex, it's the Fates that seem to be guiding her path from childhood to adulthood and male to female. It's amazing how many world events come together at exactly the right time in order to make Cal: the Turkish invasion of Greece, race riots in Detroit, and the sexual revolution of the 1960s. Maybe the only reason she's named Calliope is because Clotho, Lachesis, and Atropos are all terrible names for a child. Or pet. Or anything.

Questions About Fate and Free Will

  1. Was it fate that Cal was conceived? How much free will went into the choices of his parents and grandparents?
  2. Does Cal have free will, or is he still controlled by fate? How many of his actions are the result of his conscious choices?
  3. Cal explicitly mentions the phrase deus ex machina. How does this concept factor into his life?
  4. Desdemona thinks she can predict the sex of the child, and her predictions are always right. Does she predict the future, or do her predictions cause the future?

Chew on This

Just as Cal is a mix of both male and female ideals, he is a perfect balance of fate and free will coming together to create something new.

Fate and free will aren't that different. Cal has free will and makes conscious choices that affect his fate.