Summary: Chapter 11: Ex Ovo Omnia

Dr. Philobosian once told the Stephanides family about the seventeenth-century theory of Preformation, which suggested that all of humankind existed in miniature since creation. Cal sometimes pictures himself and Chapter Eleven sitting together on rafts of eggs, with Cal’s face flashing between his feminine and masculine faces, watching the world until it’s their turn to enter.

Milton serves as a Naval officer in the Korean War, developing a no-nonsense personality and precision in how he holds himself. In 1954, Chapter Eleven is born. Desdemona dreams of retiring to New Smyrna Beach, Florida. Michael pursues Zoë for years, and when she meets no one better, she marries him.

In 1956, Milton retires from the Navy with the dream of opening a restaurant chain, starting with the Zebra Room. The Zebra Room’s neighborhood has become impoverished. Black people moved to the neighborhood after the demolition of the Black Bottom ghetto, which caused white residents to move, depressing the housing prices. Milton begins renovating the Zebra Room into a diner. He questions Lefty on taking out three insurance policies on the building. Lefty explains that he’s lived through a fire, and sometimes a fire burns down an insurance company, too.

The diner opens and becomes successful. Milton and Tessie buy a house in the affluent Indian Village neighborhood. Milton tells Lefty that he and Desdemona are always welcome. Lefty doesn’t like feeling unneeded, and he finds a casino in the guise of a medical supply store and starts gambling there daily. He starts taking money from the diner, but Milton is too busy between to notice. Finally, only thirteen dollars remain in Lefty’s bank account.Destitute, Lefty and Desdemona move in with Milton only a year before they would have paid off their mortgage.

On Greek Orthodox Easter, as Chapter Eleven plays an egg cracking game, Tessie taps Milton on the shoulder, and they go to conceive Cal. Cal imagines the sperm swimming, carrying with them a mutation created by the biology gods, ready to meet an egg with the same mutation. With his last shred of omniscience, Cal sees Lefty collapse with a pain in his temple on the night of his birth.

Summary: Chapter 12: Home Movies

Cal believes he remembers Tessie’s face as he’s brought for his first bath. Dr. Philobosian, now seventy-four, conducts an anatomical exam. The nurse touches Dr. Philobosian’s arm during the exam, causing him to not look closely at Cal’s genitals. He declares Cal (now named Calliope) to be a healthy baby girl.