Looking for a house
Shortly after the riots, like many other white Detroiters, my parents began looking
for a house in the
suburbs. The suburb they had their sights on was the affluent
lakefront district of the auto
magnates : Grosse Pointe.
It was much harder
than they ever expected. In the Cadillac, scouting the five Grosse Pointe
Park, the City, the Farms, the Woods, the Shores), my parents saw FOR SALE signs
lawns. But when they stopped in at the realty offices and
filled out applications, they found that the
houses suddenly went off the market,
or were sold, or doubled in price.
After two months of searching, Milton was
down to his last real estate agent, a Miss Jane Marsh
of Great Lakes Realty.
He had growing suspicions.
"This property is rather eccentric," Miss
Marsh is telling Milton one September afternoon as she
him up the driveway. "It takes a buyer with a little vision." She opens
the front door and leads
him inside. "But it does have quite a pedigree.
It was designed by Hudson Clark." She waits for
the Prairie School(1)".
Milton nods, dubiously(2). He swivels his head,
looking over the place. He hadn't much cared for
the picture Miss Marsh had
shown him over at the office. Too boxy-looking. Too modern.
not sure my wife would go for this kind of thing, Miss Marsh."
afraid we don't have anything more traditional to show at the moment."
leads him along a spare white hallway and down a small flight of open stairs.
And now, as
they step into the sunken living room, Miss Marsh's head begins
to swivel, too. Smiling a polite
smile that reveals a rabbity expanse of upper
gum(3), she examines Milton's complexion, his hair,
shoes. She glances at his real estate application again.
What kind of name is that?"
More upper gum flashes as Miss Marsh makes a notation on
her pad. Then she resumes the
tour : "Sunken living
room. Greenhouse adjoining the dining area. And, as you can see, the house
well supplied with windows."
"It pretty much is a window, Miss Marsh."
Milton moves closer to the glass and examines the
backyard. Meanwhile, a few
feet behind, Miss Marsh examines Milton.
"May l ask what business you're
in, Mr. Stephanides?"
"The restaurant business."
mark of pen on pad. "Can I tell you what churches we have in the area? What
"I don't go in for that sort of thing. My wife takes the
kids to the Greek church."
"She's a Grecian, too?"
a Detroiter. We're both East Siders."
"And you need space for your
two children, is that right?"
"Yes, ma'am. Plus we have my folks
living with us, too."
"Oh, I see." And now pink gums disappear
as Miss Marsh begins to add it all up. Let's see.
Southern Mediterranean. One
point. Not in one of the professions. One point. Religion? Greek
That's some kind of Catholic, isn't it? So there's another point there. And he
parents living with him! Two more points! Which makes - five! Oh, that
won't do. That won't do at
Discreetly, Miss Marsh now draws a tiny
"5" next to "Stephanides" and circles it. As she does
however, she feels something. A kind of regret. The point system isn't her idea,
after all. It was
in place long before she came to Grosse
"Tell me more about this Hudson Clark fella," he now asks.
Well, to be honest, he's a minor figure."
"Prairie School, eh?"
Clark was no Frank Lloyd Wright, if that's what you mean."
are these outbuildings I see here?"
"I wouldn't call them outbuildings,
Mr. Stephanides. That's making it a bit grand. One's a
bathhouse. Rather decrepit,
I'm afraid. I'm not sure it even works. Behind that is the guest house.
also needs a lot of work."
"Bathhouse? That's different. You don't
have to show me any more. Decrepit outbuildings or
I'll take it."
There is a pause. Miss Marsh smiles with her double-decker
gums. "That's wonderful, Mr.
Stephanides," she says without enthusiasm.
"Of course, it's all contingent on(4) the approval of the
now it is Milton's turn to smile. "You don't have to bother with that,"
my father said, relishing
the moment. "I'll pay cash."
barrier of the Point System, my father managed to get us a house in Grosse Pointe.
adapted from Jeffrey Eugenides, Middlesex, 2002
: Prairie School (l.13): 20th century school of architecture made famous by Frank
Lloyd Wright (l.50)
(2) : dubious (l.14) : uncertain
(3) : upper gum (l.20)
: pink flesh inside the mouth above the teeth
(4) : contingent on (l.58) :
Vous traiterez les questions dans l'ordre en indiquant
clairement leur numéro sur votre copie. lorsque la réponse doit
être développée, le nombre de mots ou d'éléments
de réponse sera indiqué dans la question.
line 1 to line 9
1.a. In what country and what region does the story
b. In your own words, say where Grosse Pointe is situated
and what sort of people live there.
c. What is the name of the narrator's
2.a. What do the narrator's parents want to do in Grosse
b. In your words, explain why the narrator's father is becoming
suspicious (line 9). (20-30 words)
Read from line 10 to line 38
Explain what Miss Marsh's job consists in.
4. What is Milton's opinion
of the house? Pick out four elements to justify your answer.
Line 11 : "It takes a buyer with a little vision." what does Miss Marsh
mean? (20-30 words)
b. Line 12 : "it was designed by Hudson
Clark." What effects does she think that name will have on Milton?
What does Milton nod "dubiously" (line14)?
6. Focus on
Milton's answers to Miss Marsh's questions.
What exactly do we learn
about Milton and his family? (origin, religion, job, household).
Focus on lines 39 to 43. Why is this passage in italics?
42-43 "Oh, that won't do. That won't do at all." Explain what Miss Marsh
8.a. In your own words, explain how the "Point System"
works. (30-40 words)
b. What does it reveal about the community of
Grosse Pointe? (20 words)
9.a. In one sentence say what Miss Marsh's
goal has become.
b. What arguments does she use? (20-30 words)
the whole text again.
10. Focus on the expressions on Miss Marsh's
face (lines 19-20;25;39). How can these expressions be interpreted? (30-40 words)
From line 47 onwards, what shows that Milton is gaining control of the situation?
b. Line 60 "But now it is Milton's turn to smile".
Explain this sentence. (30-40 words)
into French from line 10 ("This property is rather eccentric...") to
line 17 ("... to show at the moment.")
one of the following subjects (250 words approximately. Write down the number
Subject 1 - The Stephanides have moved into the house. A
few months later, Milton sends a letter to a friend telling him about their life
in Grosse Pointe. Write the letter.
Subject 2 - Can money always buy everything