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Bill_T
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Early Chapters Discussion: Breaking In

"To be honest, the amusement grounds should be closed at this hour, but, for my own purposes, tonight Electric Park is open all night, and the fog suddenly lifts, all so that my grandfather can look out the window and see a roller coaster streaking down the track. A moment of cheap symbolism only, and then I have to bow to the strict rules of realism, which is to say: they can't see a thing" (pp. 110-11). Occasionally, Cal interrupts his own narrative, calling attention to himself and the artifice inherent in his story.

What purpose do these interruptions serve? Is Cal a reliable narrator?



Note: This discussion topic is particularly suitable for readers who have only read the first section of Middlesex, through the end of Book Two. If you wish to discuss plot elements introduced later in the book, consider posting in a separate thread.

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LaurenKondrat
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Re: Early Chapters Discussion: Breaking In

I think the interruption of the narrative is an important tool used in the development of the book. It allows current Cal to interrupt the action of the story he is telling in order to provide the reader with a more thorough understanding of the characters or events involved. Also, I think it serves the purpose of reminding the reader that the Cal that is telling the story is who he is because of the events and people he describes. Essentially, Eugenides is allowing his character a chance to explain the story the way he believes it should be explained, interruptions and all.
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Paul_Hochman
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Re: Early Chapters Discussion: Breaking In



LaurenKondrat wrote:
I think the interruption of the narrative is an important tool used in the development of the book. It allows current Cal to interrupt the action of the story he is telling in order to provide the reader with a more thorough understanding of the characters or events involved. Also, I think it serves the purpose of reminding the reader that the Cal that is telling the story is who he is because of the events and people he describes. Essentially, Eugenides is allowing his character a chance to explain the story the way he believes it should be explained, interruptions and all.




I agree, Lauren. Not only are the interruptions a reminder of sorts, they also serve as place marks to the overall epic scale of the story.
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bentley
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Re: Early Chapters Discussion: Breaking In

[ Edited ]

Bill_T wrote:
"To be honest, the amusement grounds should be closed at this hour, but, for my own purposes, tonight Electric Park is open all night, and the fog suddenly lifts, all so that my grandfather can look out the window and see a roller coaster streaking down the track. A moment of cheap symbolism only, and then I have to bow to the strict rules of realism, which is to say: they can't see a thing" (pp. 110-11). Occasionally, Cal interrupts his own narrative, calling attention to himself and the artifice inherent in his story.

What purpose do these interruptions serve? Is Cal a reliable narrator?



Note: This discussion topic is particularly suitable for readers who have only read the first section of Middlesex, through the end of Book Two. If you wish to discuss plot elements introduced later in the book, consider posting in a separate thread.

Click on "Reply" to post your thoughts about this discussion topic, or click "New Message" on the main page to start a new topic thread.




Cal appears to be a reliable narrator so far. And the interruptions only serve to allow the reader to step inside and get a closer look at the truth (the ability to examine the motivations and psyche of the characters as if all of them were telling their own stories). It becomes an effective approach to telling this story as only an hermaphrodite might be able to tell it (from both sides and all sides at once). Although sometimes he digresses, takes literary license and then fesses up.

I also agree with all of the other comments so far (both Lauren's and Paul's)

Message Edited by bentley on 06-13-2007 02:52 AM
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CallMeLeo
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Re: Early Chapters Discussion: Breaking In


Bill_T wrote:
"To be honest, the amusement grounds should be closed at this hour, but, for my own purposes, tonight Electric Park is open all night, and the fog suddenly lifts, all so that my grandfather can look out the window and see a roller coaster streaking down the track. A moment of cheap symbolism only, and then I have to bow to the strict rules of realism, which is to say: they can't see a thing" (pp. 110-11). Occasionally, Cal interrupts his own narrative, calling attention to himself and the artifice inherent in his story.

What purpose do these interruptions serve? Is Cal a reliable narrator?



Note: This discussion topic is particularly suitable for readers who have only read the first section of Middlesex, through the end of Book Two. If you wish to discuss plot elements introduced later in the book, consider posting in a separate thread.

Click on "Reply" to post your thoughts about this discussion topic, or click "New Message" on the main page to start a new topic thread.






I can't consider Cal a reliable narrator, yet I accept his narration of events as truth. That, I think, is where Eugenides has excelled as a storyteller. He tells the story in the first person, but he also makes Cal omniscient - relating events as if he had been there or knowing things about the characters lives he cannot possibly know. On page 157 of my book Cal narrates:

"I can feel how the house changed in the months leading to 1933. A coldness passing through it root-beer-colored bricks, invading its rooms and blowing out the vigil light burning in the hall."

Cal isn't close to being born in 1933! However, I feel the narrator's interruptions and his omniscience serve to remind me that Cal sees himself as a cosmic part of past events through his genetic link to his family, that all events in the past have an inevitability.
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bentley
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Re: Early Chapters Discussion: Breaking In

[ Edited ]

CallMeLeo wrote:

Bill_T wrote:
"To be honest, the amusement grounds should be closed at this hour, but, for my own purposes, tonight Electric Park is open all night, and the fog suddenly lifts, all so that my grandfather can look out the window and see a roller coaster streaking down the track. A moment of cheap symbolism only, and then I have to bow to the strict rules of realism, which is to say: they can't see a thing" (pp. 110-11). Occasionally, Cal interrupts his own narrative, calling attention to himself and the artifice inherent in his story.

What purpose do these interruptions serve? Is Cal a reliable narrator?



Note: This discussion topic is particularly suitable for readers who have only read the first section of Middlesex, through the end of Book Two. If you wish to discuss plot elements introduced later in the book, consider posting in a separate thread.

Click on "Reply" to post your thoughts about this discussion topic, or click "New Message" on the main page to start a new topic thread.






I can't consider Cal a reliable narrator, yet I accept his narration of events as truth. That, I think, is where Eugenides has excelled as a storyteller. He tells the story in the first person, but he also makes Cal omniscient - relating events as if he had been there or knowing things about the characters lives he cannot possibly know. On page 157 of my book Cal narrates:

"I can feel how the house changed in the months leading to 1933. A coldness passing through it root-beer-colored bricks, invading its rooms and blowing out the vigil light burning in the hall."

Cal isn't close to being born in 1933! However, I feel the narrator's interruptions and his omniscience serve to remind me that Cal sees himself as a cosmic part of past events through his genetic link to his family, that all events in the past have an inevitability.




Excellent post, Leonora.

I wondered though if Calliope/Cal really never saw himself/herself as anything but the set of miscreant genes (the recessive genes) which were passed on from generation to generation (the ones he felt he/she was connected to); so in essence the genes were there throughout the entire transmittal and this was his destiny depending upon chance and where he or she (the genes) ended up.

For me, it was almost like the genes had Cal's name on it and they were doing the time traveling. However, you are literally correct, Cal wasn't even close to being born; but this omniscient link (the genes) is what makes him the reliable narrator. The genes were there as he points out repeatedly appearing in the bloodline in 1750.

Just a thought and of course we know this is fiction. So I guess anything is possible. (lol)

Message Edited by bentley on 06-13-2007 10:01 PM
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Paul_Hochman
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Re: Early Chapters Discussion: Breaking In

[ Edited ]
Neat thoughts, guys. "omniscient" is a great description of Cal. Just by the fact that he alone narrates the story, makes him all-powerful.

Message Edited by PaulH on 06-14-2007 11:18 AM
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