Study Guide

Middlesex Religion

By Jeffrey Eugenides


We only see Cal go to church a couple of times, but religious beliefs permeate throughout Middlesex. And, like everything in this book, it all starts with his grandparents, especially Desdemona. She grew up in the Greek Orthodox Church and works in a temple for the Nation of Islam. How's that for religious diversity? She believes it all, too. Good thing Scientology wasn't around back then…

Questions About Religion

  1. Why does Desdemona insist that Milton repair the church?
  2. How does Desdemona incorporate Islamic beliefs into her own belief system?
  3. Why does Milton shun his mother's religious beliefs?
  4. Desdemona's religious beliefs seem like crazy claptrap, but bad things do happen to her family after Milton breaks his promise to repair the church. Could that have been avoided had he kept his promise?

Chew on This

Desdemona's beliefs are a combination of religion and superstition, but it's a combination that works. Everything she predicts comes true.

Cal has no faith in religion, especially in the concept of the afterlife. He believes that his ancestors are gone when they are dead, and nothing about them exists except for memories.