Hanif Kureishi’s short story, “The Penis”, is structured in two parts. Each part follows a different character. The first follows Alfie, a man who wakes up and realises that he has brought home a penis. The second part follows the rightful owner of the reproductive organ as he tries to get his penis back and eventually succeeds.
Consequently, we can talk about a parallel plot, with two climaxes, one for each part of the story. When the narration follows Alfie, a smaller climax is reached when Alfie throws the penis over the bridge and flees. The resolution of this narrative is inserted in the plot following Doug, when Alfie and Doug meet and Alfie offers to give Doug a free haircut as a way to apologise for taking and then throwing away the penis. The climax of Doug’s side of the plot is discussed below.
The part of the narration that follows Doug can be described as a quest plot. The character spends his time searching for his penis.
The short story begins with an exposition in which we are introduced to the first plot, surrounding one of the main characters, Alfie: “Alfie was having breakfast with his wife at the kitchen table. He couldn’t have slept more than three hours, having been out the previous night.” (p. 79, ll. 1-2)
The intrigue of the short story is set by Alfie’s discovery of another man’s penis in his pocket, but he cannot remember what happened the previous night:
The middle of the story continues with the second part of the narrative in which the plot follows Doug, a porn actor who wakes up and realises that his penis is missing: “… he realized his penis was missing. The whole thing had gone, penis scrotum, even the pubic hair. Doug thought he might faint.” (p. 81, ll. 11-14)
The rising action follows Doug in his quest to retrieve his penis. He goes to the places where he had partied the previous night searching for his penis. Then he spots the penis entering a cab with two women and takes another cab to follow it. Losing sight of it, he enters another bar and finds out that his penis is in a nearby bar. When Doug goes to the bar to look for it, the penis runs away from him.
In the falling action, Doug manages to loan the money from his film producer, but at a high-interest rate which will force him “to make films for what seemed like the rest of his life” (p. 85, l. 14).