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Early Chapters Discussion: Destiny?

Describing his own conception, Cal writes: "The timing of the thing had to be just so in order for me to become the person I am. Delay the act by an hour and you change the gene selection" (p. 11). Do you see Cal's condition a result of chance or of fate? Which of these forces governs the world as Cal sees it?



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Re: Early Chapters Discussion: Destiny?



Bill_T wrote:
Describing his own conception, Cal writes: "The timing of the thing had to be just so in order for me to become the person I am. Delay the act by an hour and you change the gene selection" (p. 11). Do you see Cal's condition a result of chance or of fate? Which of these forces governs the world as Cal sees it?



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This is hard to say and I may come back to this later on in the novel. Was he fated to be what he was because of his grandparents decision (genetically?)...possibly. Was he fated to become what he became because of his parent's timing (maybe not)..that might be chance. I will have to think about this. I am leaning to chance. But if Cal believes that this is his destiny then he believes in fate and chance moving in tandem.
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Re: Early Chapters Discussion: Destiny?

[ Edited ]

Bill_T wrote:
Describing his own conception, Cal writes: "The timing of the thing had to be just so in order for me to become the person I am. Delay the act by an hour and you change the gene selection" (p. 11). Do you see Cal's condition a result of chance or of fate? Which of these forces governs the world as Cal sees it?



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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.




The more that I am reading, I am learning that it appears that due to genetics, if the miscreant genes are present it could be a matter of time and/or the luck of the draw (timing). So it is not really about destiny; but about an entire set of timing and other unfortuitous combinations which could potentially breed this outcome.

Yes, there will most likely be this outcome in the descendants of the carriers; but Cal had the opportunity to still be Cal at birth and miss this genetic cross wiring if the timing (the chance part) had been different.

Cal stated on page 71, "I'm the descendant of a smuggling operation, too. Without their knowing, my grandparents, on their way to America, were each carrying a single mutated gene on the fifth chromosome. It wasn't a recent mutation, According to Dr. Luce, the gene first appeared in my bloodline sometime around 1750, in the body of one Penelope Evangelatos, my great-grandmother to the ninth power. She passed it on to her son Petras, who passed in on to his two daughters, who passed it on to three of their five children, and so on and so on. Being recessive, its expression would have been fitful. Sporadic heredity is what the geneticists call it. A trait that goes underground for decades only to reappear when everyone has forgotten about it. That was how it went in Bithynios. Every so often a hermaphrodite was born, a seeming girl who, in growing up, proved otherwise."

So it seems if he was not born a girl and his parents timing had been different (chance), then Cal would have been a boy who carried the gene (maybe) and have been spared the grief he went through. However, the destiny part was that like playing Russian roulette, somebody was going to be a hermaphrodite (just no knowledge of who was going to be tagged); that was the destiny part; but if it was not Cal/Calliope specific; that part depended upon chance. However, Desdemona and Lefty married each other and increased the likelihood that they were to be responsible for Cal's/Calliope's outcome. (their destiny).

And it looked like their cousin had already had this pattern erupt in her life; Sourmelina had a connection to Helen? (page 75)

Message Edited by bentley on 06-13-2007 05:49 AM
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Re: Early Chapters Discussion: Destiny? (POSSIBLE SPOILER)

And it looked like their cousin had already had this pattern erupt in her life; Sourmelina had a connection to Helen? (page 75)

Message Edited by bentley on 06-13-2007 05:49 AM




I had a question about that may be answered later in the novel but on page 125, when both babies are being discussed, it states that they had "one mutation apiece". Why? Did I miss something?
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Re: Early Chapters Discussion: Destiny? (POSSIBLE SPOILER)

[ Edited ]

PaulH wrote:
And it looked like their cousin had already had this pattern erupt in her life; Sourmelina had a connection to Helen? (page 75)

Message Edited by bentley on 06-13-2007 05:49 AM




I had a question about that may be answered later in the novel but on page 125, when both babies are being discussed, it states that they had "one mutation apiece". Why? Did I miss something?




Paul, all I can think of is that it takes two miscreant genes and just like Desdemona and Lefty, these two babies were carrying one apiece (one mutation apiece). For this recessive gene to come out or do its dirty work, the woman and the man must each carry it otherwise the gene would most likely be just that..recessive. Sort of like brown eyes and blue eyes. Hypothetically if the father had only dominant brown eye genes in his background and even if the wife was a Swedish blue-eyed blond going back generations, then the children would always have brown eyes. Even if the father had brown eyes and somewhere going back (father, mother, grandparents, etc., he had been passed down a recessive blue gene which just could not manifest itself, and the same situation applied, then their children could have or at least one of them might have blue eyes. So in the case of Desdemona and Lefty (their getting married and both carrying the mutated gene) ensured them that there was a huge potential of determining the future birth of an hemaphrodite and it was only a matter of time before it showed up. One of the babies was Milton;was the other Theodora (nicknamed in the future Tessie????) Haven't gotten that far yet.

Maybe there are some geneticists out there who could present more info.

I guess what Cal is implying is if these two babies did/do what Desdemona and Lefty did and both of them are carriers, then the hemaphrodite cross wiring will be destined for their descendants as well. That is all I got out of it and I admit it is mighty confusing.

Message Edited by bentley on 06-13-2007 11:15 AM
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Re: Early Chapters Discussion: Destiny? (POSSIBLE SPOILER)





Paul, all I can think of is that it takes two miscreant genes and just like Desdemona and Lefty, these two babies were carrying one apiece (one mutation apiece). For this recessive gene to come out or do its dirty work, the woman and the man must each carry it otherwise the gene would most likely be just that..recessive. Sort of like brown eyes and blue eyes. Hypothetically if the father had only dominant brown eye genes in his background and even if the wife was a Swedish blue-eyed blond going back generations, then the children would always have brown eyes. Even if the father had brown eyes and somewhere going back (father, mother, grandparents, etc., he had been passed down a recessive blue gene which just could not manifest itself, and the same situation applied, then their children could have or at least one of them might have blue eyes. So in the case of Desdemona and Lefty (their getting married and both carrying the mutated gene) ensured them that there was a huge potential of determining the future birth of an hemaphrodite and it was only a matter of time before it showed up. One of the babies was Milton;was the other Theodora (nicknamed in the future Tessie????) Haven't gotten that far yet.

Maybe there are some geneticists out there who could present more info.

I guess what Cal is implying is if these two babies did/do what Desdemona and Lefty did and both of them are carriers, then the hemaphrodite cross wiring will be destined for their descendants as well. That is all I got out of it and I admit it is mighty confusing.

Message Edited by bentley on 06-13-2007 11:15 AM




I guess I'm confused as to why Zizmo and Sourmelina's child would have a mutation? They're not related. Unless Zizmo's suspicions of Lefty are true?
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Re: Early Chapters Discussion: Destiny? (POSSIBLE SPOILER)


PaulH wrote:




Paul, all I can think of is that it takes two miscreant genes and just like Desdemona and Lefty, these two babies were carrying one apiece (one mutation apiece). For this recessive gene to come out or do its dirty work, the woman and the man must each carry it otherwise the gene would most likely be just that..recessive. Sort of like brown eyes and blue eyes. Hypothetically if the father had only dominant brown eye genes in his background and even if the wife was a Swedish blue-eyed blond going back generations, then the children would always have brown eyes. Even if the father had brown eyes and somewhere going back (father, mother, grandparents, etc., he had been passed down a recessive blue gene which just could not manifest itself, and the same situation applied, then their children could have or at least one of them might have blue eyes. So in the case of Desdemona and Lefty (their getting married and both carrying the mutated gene) ensured them that there was a huge potential of determining the future birth of an hemaphrodite and it was only a matter of time before it showed up. One of the babies was Milton;was the other Theodora (nicknamed in the future Tessie????) Haven't gotten that far yet.

Maybe there are some geneticists out there who could present more info.

I guess what Cal is implying is if these two babies did/do what Desdemona and Lefty did and both of them are carriers, then the hemaphrodite cross wiring will be destined for their descendants as well. That is all I got out of it and I admit it is mighty confusing.

Message Edited by bentley on 06-13-2007 11:15 AM




I guess I'm confused as to why Zizmo and Sourmelina's child would have a mutation? They're not related. Unless Zizmo's suspicions of Lefty are true?




I am still reading..so I am not one to be able to answer yet..maybe one of the other readers who have read the "entire" book already might weigh in...I am still looking for my chapter 11 answer. (smile)
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Re: Early Chapters Discussion: Destiny? (POSSIBLE SPOILER)



bentley wrote:

PaulH wrote:




Paul, all I can think of is that it takes two miscreant genes and just like Desdemona and Lefty, these two babies were carrying one apiece (one mutation apiece). For this recessive gene to come out or do its dirty work, the woman and the man must each carry it otherwise the gene would most likely be just that..recessive. Sort of like brown eyes and blue eyes. Hypothetically if the father had only dominant brown eye genes in his background and even if the wife was a Swedish blue-eyed blond going back generations, then the children would always have brown eyes. Even if the father had brown eyes and somewhere going back (father, mother, grandparents, etc., he had been passed down a recessive blue gene which just could not manifest itself, and the same situation applied, then their children could have or at least one of them might have blue eyes. So in the case of Desdemona and Lefty (their getting married and both carrying the mutated gene) ensured them that there was a huge potential of determining the future birth of an hemaphrodite and it was only a matter of time before it showed up. One of the babies was Milton;was the other Theodora (nicknamed in the future Tessie????) Haven't gotten that far yet.

Maybe there are some geneticists out there who could present more info.

I guess what Cal is implying is if these two babies did/do what Desdemona and Lefty did and both of them are carriers, then the hemaphrodite cross wiring will be destined for their descendants as well. That is all I got out of it and I admit it is mighty confusing.

Message Edited by bentley on 06-13-2007 11:15 AM




I guess I'm confused as to why Zizmo and Sourmelina's child would have a mutation? They're not related. Unless Zizmo's suspicions of Lefty are true?




I am still reading..so I am not one to be able to answer yet..maybe one of the other readers who have read the "entire" book already might weigh in...I am still looking for my chapter 11 answer. (smile)




OK..now at the point where Theodora is Tessie, therefore Cal's/Calliope's mother, and Theodora is the daughter of Soumelina and Jimmy Zizmo. A lot of in breeding. Anyways still have not figured out the answer to your question Paul?
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Re: Early Chapters Discussion: Destiny? (POSSIBLE SPOILER)

Now I'm really confused. What we need is a family tree, albeit it would only be one-sided :smileyhappy:
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Re: Early Chapters Discussion: Destiny? (SPOILER)


PaulH wrote:
Now I'm really confused. What we need is a family tree, albeit it would only be one-sided :smileyhappy:




PaulH, I know - very confusing.

The answer you are seeking is in this review; but don't read it because it could be a real spoiler. I think Cal tells us the answer further on:

http://dir.salon.com/story/books/review/2002/09/05/eugenides/index.html

It was/is confusing for me as well; and I did not get at first that Theodora was even Tessie (Milton's wife and Cal's mother). But there is a lot more.

A lot on in-breeding going on.
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Re: Early Chapters Discussion: Destiny? (SPOILER)



bentley wrote:

PaulH wrote:
Now I'm really confused. What we need is a family tree, albeit it would only be one-sided :smileyhappy:




PaulH, I know - very confusing.

The answer you are seeking is in this review; but don't read it because it could be a real spoiler. I think Cal tells us the answer further on:

http://dir.salon.com/story/books/review/2002/09/05/eugenides/index.html

It was/is confusing for me as well; and I did not get at first that Theodora was even Tessie (Milton's wife and Cal's mother). But there is a lot more.

A lot on in-breeding going on.




Okay. I won't click through the link until the tale is told.
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Re: Early Chapters Discussion: Destiny? (SPOILER) Regarding Helen

[ Edited ]

bentley wrote:

Bill_T wrote:
Describing his own conception, Cal writes: "The timing of the thing had to be just so in order for me to become the person I am. Delay the act by an hour and you change the gene selection" (p. 11). Do you see Cal's condition a result of chance or of fate? Which of these forces governs the world as Cal sees it?



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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.




The more that I am reading, I am learning that it appears that due to genetics, if the miscreant genes are present it could be a matter of time and/or the luck of the draw (timing). So it is not really about destiny; but about an entire set of timing and other unfortuitous combinations which could potentially breed this outcome.

Yes, there will most likely be this outcome in the descendants of the carriers; but Cal had the opportunity to still be Cal at birth and miss this genetic cross wiring if the timing (the chance part) had been different.

Cal stated on page 71, "I'm the descendant of a smuggling operation, too. Without their knowing, my grandparents, on their way to America, were each carrying a single mutated gene on the fifth chromosome. It wasn't a recent mutation, According to Dr. Luce, the gene first appeared in my bloodline sometime around 1750, in the body of one Penelope Evangelatos, my great-grandmother to the ninth power. She passed it on to her son Petras, who passed in on to his two daughters, who passed it on to three of their five children, and so on and so on. Being recessive, its expression would have been fitful. Sporadic heredity is what the geneticists call it. A trait that goes underground for decades only to reappear when everyone has forgotten about it. That was how it went in Bithynios. Every so often a hermaphrodite was born, a seeming girl who, in growing up, proved otherwise."

So it seems if he was not born a girl and his parents timing had been different (chance), then Cal would have been a boy who carried the gene (maybe) and have been spared the grief he went through. However, the destiny part was that like playing Russian roulette, somebody was going to be a hermaphrodite (just no knowledge of who was going to be tagged); that was the destiny part; but if it was not Cal/Calliope specific; that part depended upon chance. However, Desdemona and Lefty married each other and increased the likelihood that they were to be responsible for Cal's/Calliope's outcome. (their destiny).

And it looked like their cousin had already had this pattern erupt in her life; Sourmelina had a connection to Helen? (page 75)

Message Edited by bentley on 06-13-2007 05:49 AM



SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER


I was wrong about Helen above.

The connection to Helen was not that Helen was a related offspring: this was cleared up later. Helen was a married woman in a village where Sourmelina lived and S was thrown out of the village for having an intimate connection with Helen. Very involved familial structure and all sorts of odd twists. Sourmelina is now a very Americanized woman and is also Desdemona's and Lefty's first cousin (I think).

Confused enough for now. I will continue plowing through.

Message Edited by bentley on 06-13-2007 01:01 PM
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Hardy-Weinberg Equilibrium

I can't quite find a decent chart online, but I did find a site for the Hardy-Weinberg Equilibrium. This is basically a statistical law that says gene frequencies/ratios in a randomly breeding population remain constant from generation to generation.

Hardy-Weinberg Equilibrium


In a normal recessive gene, if each parent carries one copy, the chances that an offspring will receive both copies is 25% (a 1 in 4 chance) and the chance the offspring will receive only one copy is 50%. This is assuming that mating is random throughout the generations.

Humans never randomly breed - we pick the attributes we like best, often preferring similar attributes to ourselves. This is called assortive mating. In the case of Middlesex, the older generations bred within the bloodline (consanguinity) so the chances of Cal's parents receiving one copy of the defective, recessive gene became greater than 50%. If you calculate the odds, Cal and Chapter Eleven had much higher odds of receiving both recessive alleles than other kids in their generation because the recessive allele "built-up" in the bloodline of the family. This is similar to bottlenecking and other phenomena seen in pure-bred animals.
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Re: Hardy-Weinberg Equilibrium

[ Edited ]

pedsphleb wrote:
I can't quite find a decent chart online, but I did find a site for the Hardy-Weinberg Equilibrium. This is basically a statistical law that says gene frequencies/ratios in a randomly breeding population remain constant from generation to generation.

Hardy-Weinberg Equilibrium


In a normal recessive gene, if each parent carries one copy, the chances that an offspring will receive both copies is 25% (a 1 in 4 chance) and the chance the offspring will receive only one copy is 50%. This is assuming that mating is random throughout the generations.

Humans never randomly breed - we pick the attributes we like best, often preferring similar attributes to ourselves. This is called assortive mating. In the case of Middlesex, the older generations bred within the bloodline (consanguinity) so the chances of Cal's parents receiving one copy of the defective, recessive gene became greater than 50%. If you calculate the odds, Cal and Chapter Eleven had much higher odds of receiving both recessive alleles than other kids in their generation because the recessive allele "built-up" in the bloodline of the family. This is similar to bottlenecking and other phenomena seen in pure-bred animals.




Yes, I agree and thank you for the site. I think this family with the in breeding "stacked the deck". Interesting that you say that humans never randomly breed and that we pick attributes we like best. Well maybe that is not so hard to understand: you are usually physically attracted to your mate, etc. and have other connections.

The fact that you have read the entire book helps a lot. And so far I have not found the answer for Chapter Eleven either (but I am still looking). (smile) So I may be checking with you later (lol).

Message Edited by bentley on 06-13-2007 01:14 PM
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Re: Hardy-Weinberg Equilibrium

Lefty and Des certainly have "similar attributes" -- they come from the same village, their childhood homes are strikingly alike, and they both knew each other's parents quite well :smileyhappy:

I digress...
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Re: Hardy-Weinberg Equilibrium - Same Village

I think the "same village" idea is very important. If the village is small enough, and the population doesn't see much inflow from the outside world, then the process of endogamy would occur (mating within certain social circles, i.e. certain religious populations and the former European royal families). It's not exactly inbreeding, but at some point everyone sort-of winds up related to everyone else.



PaulH wrote:
Lefty and Des certainly have "similar attributes" -- they come from the same village, their childhood homes are strikingly alike, and they both knew each other's parents quite well :smileyhappy:

I digress...


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Re: Hardy-Weinberg Equilibrium - Same Village


pedsphleb wrote:
I think the "same village" idea is very important. If the village is small enough, and the population doesn't see much inflow from the outside world, then the process of endogamy would occur (mating within certain social circles, i.e. certain religious populations and the former European royal families). It's not exactly inbreeding, but at some point everyone sort-of winds up related to everyone else.



PaulH wrote:
Lefty and Des certainly have "similar attributes" -- they come from the same village, their childhood homes are strikingly alike, and they both knew each other's parents quite well :smileyhappy:

I digress...







Pedsphleb, you have made some good points above. But if Desdemona and Lefty aren't in breeding, I am not sure if you could get a better definition of it than that. I agree about the royal families and the process of endogamy. But this particular coupling was shocking; yet the author seems to make us ok with it because of the special circumstances..but incestuous is what it was and would be considered.

I have to agree with Paul's digression (lol). But Eugenides does take us on a trip through the study of genetics and hemaphrodites which is quite interesting. Your helping out with your incites having read the book helps a great deal. Thanks again..we could still use a family tree...that is a great idea. By the way, Sourmelina Zizmo ("née Pappasdiamondopoulis")is creating some interesting familial connections on her own.
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Re: Hardy-Weinberg Equilibrium - Same Village

I've read all the messages. Now let me see if I have it straight so correct me if I'm wrong:

It's Lefty and Des (Are both males and females carriers of the recessive gene?) passing the recessive gene to Milton; and Lina, first cousin to Lefty and Des and also a carrier of the recessive gene, passing it to Tessie; and in Milton and Tessie, two carriers, the recessive gene is finally fertilized with Cal.

My understanding is that the recessive gene, can by fertilized at any time, but the odds increase as with the case of Lefty, Des, and Lina, with repeated consanguinity.



bentley wrote:

pedsphleb wrote:
I think the "same village" idea is very important. If the village is small enough, and the population doesn't see much inflow from the outside world, then the process of endogamy would occur (mating within certain social circles, i.e. certain religious populations and the former European royal families). It's not exactly inbreeding, but at some point everyone sort-of winds up related to everyone else.



PaulH wrote:
Lefty and Des certainly have "similar attributes" -- they come from the same village, their childhood homes are strikingly alike, and they both knew each other's parents quite well :smileyhappy:

I digress...







Pedsphleb, you have made some good points above. But if Desdemona and Lefty aren't in breeding, I am not sure if you could get a better definition of it than that. I agree about the royal families and the process of endogamy. But this particular coupling was shocking; yet the author seems to make us ok with it because of the special circumstances..but incestuous is what it was and would be considered.

I have to agree with Paul's digression (lol). But Eugenides does take us on a trip through the study of genetics and hemaphrodites which is quite interesting. Your helping out with your incites having read the book helps a great deal. Thanks again..we could still use a family tree...that is a great idea. By the way, Sourmelina Zizmo ("née Pappasdiamondopoulis")is creating some interesting familial connections on her own.

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Re: Hardy-Weinberg Equilibrium - Same Village


CallMeLeo wrote:
I've read all the messages. Now let me see if I have it straight so correct me if I'm wrong:

It's Lefty and Des (Are both males and females carriers of the recessive gene?) passing the recessive gene to Milton; and Lina, first cousin to Lefty and Des and also a carrier of the recessive gene, passing it to Tessie; and in Milton and Tessie, two carriers, the recessive gene is finally fertilized with Cal.



---------------------------------------------------------------------------

Yes, that is all correct. Sourmelina (Lina) however has more than a cousin relationship to the others (that is all I am saying at this point) until folks are futher along. I gleaned that not on my own by the way and I am still looking to see why the brother is called Chapter Eleven (but hopefully that will be answered by the end of the novel)...maybe I will figure that one out as well or we can simply just ask Melissa (lol).

All I could think was what a messed up family. (smile) I was also trying to set up a family tree but did anyone get the full name of Desdemona's and Lefty's father (I am assuming the last name was Stepanides). There are really just bits and pieces going back before Desdemona and not a lot of names just familial titles, etc.

We know the following that it passed through nine generations of the Stephanides and their ancestors for nine generations (recessive mutation on the fifth chromosome).

Cal says all of the above at the top of page 4. Also remember that the timing had to be perfect as well. On page 11, "The timing of the thing had to be just so in order for me to become the person I am. Delay the act by an hour and you change the gene selection." So what happened to Calliope/Cal wasn't automatic because his parents were both carrying the recessive gene...but the results could have happened to any of the children if the gene pool selected in fertilization contained the mutated genes from both parents. These miscreant genes hide out in chromosome number five and if they are together syphon off an enzyme which stops the production of certain hormones which complicates Calliopes/Cal's life. I am assuming that if he had in fact been born a male and not a female that his problems would have not been obvious (like Chapter Eleven). On page 41, he explains that he can function normally as a man because 5-alpha-reductase deficiency syndrome allows for normal biosynthesis and peripheral action of testosterone, in utero, neonatally, and at puberty (he just doesn't go bald and he confirms that he is not androgynous.)
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Re: Hardy-Weinberg Equilibrium - Same Village


bentley wrote:

CallMeLeo wrote:
I've read all the messages. Now let me see if I have it straight so correct me if I'm wrong:

It's Lefty and Des (Are both males and females carriers of the recessive gene?) passing the recessive gene to Milton; and Lina, first cousin to Lefty and Des and also a carrier of the recessive gene, passing it to Tessie; and in Milton and Tessie, two carriers, the recessive gene is finally fertilized with Cal.



---------------------------------------------------------------------------

Yes, that is all correct. Sourmelina (Lina) however has more than a cousin relationship to the others (that is all I am saying at this point) until folks are futher along. I gleaned that not on my own by the way and I am still looking to see why the brother is called Chapter Eleven (but hopefully that will be answered by the end of the novel)...maybe I will figure that one out as well or we can simply just ask Melissa (lol).

All I could think was what a messed up family. (smile) I was also trying to set up a family tree but did anyone get the full name of Desdemona's and Lefty's father (I am assuming the last name was Stepanides). There are really just bits and pieces going back before Desdemona and not a lot of names just familial titles, etc.

We know the following that it passed through nine generations of the Stephanides and their ancestors for nine generations (recessive mutation on the fifth chromosome).

Cal says all of the above at the top of page 4. Also remember that the timing had to be perfect as well. On page 11, "The timing of the thing had to be just so in order for me to become the person I am. Delay the act by an hour and you change the gene selection." So what happened to Calliope/Cal wasn't automatic because his parents were both carrying the recessive gene...but the results could have happened to any of the children if the gene pool selected in fertilization contained the mutated genes from both parents. These miscreant genes hide out in chromosome number five and if they are together syphon off an enzyme which stops the production of certain hormones which complicates Calliopes/Cal's life. I am assuming that if he had in fact been born a male and not a female that his problems would have not been obvious (like Chapter Eleven). On page 41, he explains that he can function normally as a man because 5-alpha-reductase deficiency syndrome allows for normal biosynthesis and peripheral action of testosterone, in utero, neonatally, and at puberty (he just doesn't go bald and he confirms that he is not androgynous.)


Now I have a much clearer understanding. Thanks, Bentley. I'm curious about Lina, though. I haven't gleaned anything more beyond the first cousin relationship. I'll remind myself to ask you in later chapters.
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