Narrating Identity in Jeffrey Eugenides’ Middlesex

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Title: Narrating Identity in Jeffrey Eugenides’ Middlesex
Author: Piastra, Elizabeth
Advisor: Mohan, Rajeswari
Department: Haverford College. Dept. of English
Type: Thesis (B.A.)
Issue Date: 2006
Abstract: Jeffrey Eugenides’ Middlesex is the first person narrative of Cal, an individual who has lived a “mythical life” (Eugenides 424) and experienced the “impossible” (Eugenides 516) and whose narrative is described as “this singular and uncommon record” (Eugenides 512). Cal’s story is that of one of the so-called “others” in society, and yet, his narrative is a search for origin and a journey of self-discovery in which the social constructions of normality and otherness are revealed. As Cal points out, “I was beginning to understand something about normality. Normality wasn’t normal. It couldn’t be. If normality were normal, everybody could leave it alone” (Eugenides 446). Cal’s narrative demonstrates that though categories may contribute to one’s identity, no single category is capable of determining everything about one’s experiences, which are entirely one’s own and no one else’s. In other words, categories are constructed though not independent of one another and have material consequences. This understanding of categories is why there can be no “typical” experience, why there is no such thing as “normal.”
Subject: Eugenides, Jeffrey. Middlesex
Subject: Eugenides, Jeffrey -- Criticism and interpretation
Subject: Identity (Philosophical concept) in literature
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Piastra, Elizabeth. "Narrating Identity in Jeffrey Eugenides’ Middlesex". 2006. Available electronically from

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