The language of the short story “The Penis” by Hanif Kureishi is simple and humorous. Humour is created through the absurdity of the situation and the surrealist context (the penis is alive and has a personality of his own). The choice of words reflects a post-modernist urban setting, in which sexual objectification is common. The author mixes narration with dialogue, and the style of writing is concise and logical.

Imagery is used mostly in connection with characters’ actions and the penis (the way it looks and acts). This imagery helps give this surrealist scenario more authenticity and makes it easier for the readers to create mental images of something which could not happen in real life: “…he saw his penis coming out of a coffee shop accompanied by a couple of young women. The penis, tall, erect and wearing dark glasses and a fine black jacket, was smiling.”

The most important language and narrative device is the personification of the penis. The organ is given human attributes in the short story. He acts like a person, dresses like a person, talks like a person, and is self-aware: “ ‘I’m going solo, I’ve been exploited for years. I want my own career. I’m going to make more serious films.’ ”

Other language devices used by the author further help with the imagery and make the narrative more appealing. Here are some of the most important ones:


The author makes three allusions in the story. The first is to Don Giovanni, the classic opera in two acts...

The text shown above is just an extract. Only members can read the full content.

Get access to the full Study Guide.

As a member of, you get access to all of the content.

Sign up now

Already a member? Log in