Study Guide

Middlesex Mortality

By Jeffrey Eugenides


We talked about old people in the part of this section focused on old age, but we didn't address this one critical issue: old people die. Well, everyone dies at some point, whether they're old or not, and there's a lot of death in Middlesex. There are deaths off-page during wars and riots, there are deaths of minor characters, and there are deaths of major characters whose lives we've known for a long time. So, if you're wondering why our copy of Middlesex is stained with tears… that's why. Why it's stained with peanut butter… well, we like to eat and read, okay? Nothing wrong with that.

Questions About Mortality

  1. What minor characters die over the course of the novel? How are their deaths significant?
  2. Are there any insignificant deaths in the novel, or do they all mean something?
  3. How does Cal cope with the death of his father? How is it different than the death of his grandfather?
  4. All the major characters who die in the book are male. Do we see any female deaths?

Chew on This

One of the first deaths that really impacts the novel is the death of Dr. Philobosian's children. When they die, he immigrates to America, where he later delivers Cal. His oversight of Cal's true sex sets the whole novel into motion.

The novel ends with a death. Even though his father is dead, Cal is hopeful for the future and treats it as a new beginning.