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The Penis

This study guide will help you analyse the text “The Penis” by Hanif Kureishi. We will show you examples of elements in the text that will be relevant for your analysis. In these notes, we will focus on the summary, structure, characters, setting, narrator and point of view, language, themes and message. 

Presentation of the text

Title: “The Penis”
Author: Hanif Kureishi
Published in: Midnight All Day (collection)
Date of Publication: 1999
Genre: Short Story

Hanif Kureishi (b. 1954) is a British writer of novels, short stories, plays and screenplays. He has been ranked by The Times newspaper as one of the 50 greatest British writers since 1945. His novel Intimacy (1998), was adapted into a film in 2001.

Excerpt

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Identity crisis

An identity crisis is defined as a period of confusion in which a person questions who she/he is and his/her role in society. In the short story, both Alfie and Doug go through an identity crisis.

Alfie’s identity crisis is marked by the fact that he is a hairdresser while his wife wants him to be more business minded and to appear on television. The fact that he comes home with a penis that is bigger than his own further accentuates Alfie’s crisis and frustrations. However, when he tries to act like the business-minded person his wife wants him to be (thinking about selling the penis) Alfie fails because he gets scared by a policeman whom Alfie assumes is coming after him. Alfie’s crisis is further suggested through the meeting with Doug, as he insists on offering the man a free haircut because he has nothing else to offer to Doug as an apology.

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The Penis

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