Euphemism In Literature

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Middlesex and How to Read Literature Like a Professor fall on opposite ends of the spectrum of literature. One is an epic of classic proportions, while the other is a dry guide on what is, apparently, the proper way to read literature. As unlike as the two are, Middlesex, through the symbol of the crocus, and the theme of journeying, follows Foster’s formula in How to Read Literature Like a Professor. One of the most prominent symbols in Middlesex, although mentioned only eighteen times, is the crocus. The flower is established as a euphemism for Cal’s ambiguous sex, given how he felt it “stirring” (Eugenides 320) when he hit puberty, and it became intertwined with Cal’s intersexuality. For example, the crocus was a “stimulant” (Eugenides 387) for the Obscure Object, and was the center of Dr. Luce’s studying of Cal. This makes the surface meaning of the symbol quite clear; the crocus represents Cal’s status as an intersex man. If a “reader’s imagination” (Foster…show more content…
With chapters titled “Minotaur” and “Hermaphroditus”, and Cal describing himself as “Homeric” (Eugenides 4) a parallel between Middlesex and ancient stories is drawn. Almost every Greek classic involves some kind of journey or quest that the protagonist undergoes. This coincides with Foster’s argument theme is created by calling upon a “prior story” (Foster 56) because a theme of journeying is made apparent by Eugenides’s references. Without any allusions journeying would still be a prevalent theme, but it would carry significantly less weight. As it turns out, Foster was largely correct in How to Read Literature Like a Professor. Novels do tend to follow certain rules, and Middlesex is no exception. The crocus proves the infinite interpretations of symbols, and Eugenides creates them exactly how Foster says authors do. Sure, Foster’s book may be a bit boring, but it is nothing if not accurate, at least in this
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