“Guts” is a short story written by Chuck Palahniuk. It describes stories of three teenagers. Each of them had traumatizing experience of self-pleasure. Narrator chose the most dangerous way. He dived to the pool and used circulation pump to get aroused. Last time the equipment sucked out boy’s intestines and he needed to gnaw through it to reach the air. At the end of the story narrator commented about consequences of his amusement. “Both my friends, the wax kid and the carrot kid, they grew up, got big, but I've never weighed a pound more than I did that day when I was thirteen” (Palahniuk). The “Guts’” has detailed written description of characters’ sufferings. However, I do not think the story is so strong it can cause vomit or faint. Maybe, this reaction was caused by graphic material or narrator’s intonations. The “Guts” can be treated as cautionary tale. It is possible to explain its main topic in different ways. The work also has connections with the masculinity in the literature.
Such visceral and disturbing imagery can be used as warning. Teenagers often have low level of sense of self-preservation. Many of them believe they are immortal. This attitude does not have severe consequences in many cases, but sometimes it causes dangerous injuries. Palahniuk describes three common causes of sexual damages: foreign object inside a body, foreign object inside genitals and a body part inside a foreign object. The naturalism of this story can prevent injuries in real life. News show not only teenagers are interested in unusual sexual satisfaction. Weisman’s article describes a case of a 70-year-old man. He “admitted to the hospital with “bleeding urethral meatus,” which in layman’s terms means his pee hole was in bad shape. Turns out he stuffed a 4-inch fork into his urethra in an attempt to “achieve sexual gratification” (Weisman). This story is similar to the second plot in the “Guts”, where the kid slipped a piece of wax in his penis. The main story about the circulation pump also has real examples. One of them was shown in the TV-show “Urban Legends”. Here woman’s intestines were sucked out by the toilet on the passenger cruise liner. She did not try to sexually pleasure herself, but the result was the same. And both stories have the clear warning – do not play with the high-pressure equipment.
People often do not believe advices and cautions. However, good, detailed and naturalistic story, like “Guts”, can leave imprint in their brains. If person wants to vomit or faint because of the story, he or she probably would not repeat described actions in real life. Palahniuk’s work can be treated as a useful material in this case.
There is another purpose for this kind of short stories. Authors create them to shock modern censured society. Present-day movies have straight age limit. Authors can not show blood, violence or even person with cigarette. The Internet has more freedom, but many sources have rules too. Palahniuk breaks some of them and show people the real life in his stories. Author’s works also have connections with the masculinity in the literature.
In the work “Masculinity in Chuck Palahniuk's Work” on termpaperwarehouse.com author started with the suggestion that consumerism killed masculinity. Marketing experts promoted the image of metrosexual, so men would buy more goods. Author mentions several ways how Palahniuk tries to return masculinity in literature with his works. For example, in writer’s fiction “the appearance and image of the body is used as a means to explore the effects of modernity on masculinity. Palahniuk’s portrayal of male body image writes in accordance to many studies regarding male body satisfaction in the modern era” (termpaperwarehouse.com). Author used the “Fight Club” as a main basis for his work. The “Guts” does not have images of men’s bodies or other features that often associated with masculinity. However, this short story is related to the term.
According to the regular definition, masculinity has such traits as independence, courage and assertiveness. The “Guts” demonstrates two of these three features. The short story does not say anything about independence. Quite the opposite, it is possible to say characters’ problems were caused because of their dependence behavior. Boys thought only about their satisfaction and did not forecast consequences. In the first case it ended only with embarrassment, while in two other characters got serious injuries. This behavior can be referred to the other sign of masculinity – the machismo. The trait is associated with a disregard for responsibility and consequences, and boys demonstrated it partially.
Courage and assertiveness were fully presented in the third part of the short story. The narrator needed both of this traits to make a decision that helped him to stay alive. Here the boy demonstrated ancient instincts of self-preservation. There are similar situations in animal world, when wolf or fox chews off its leg to get free from the trap. The narrator also needed courage and assertiveness to tell this story to the audience. Narrator’s humiliation appeared in several different ways in it. At first, he was “caught” during one of the most private actions. Second, the boy injured on of “shameful” parts of his body. Third, there were humiliating consequences of his actions, like his sister’s pregnancy or explanations that parents needed to give to the pool guy. In consideration of the foregoing, narrator needed a lot of assertiveness and courage to remember these harmful events.
“The reason for Palahniuk’s portrayal of masculinity in crisis is much more self invested Palahniuk wishes to highlight the dark side of consumer society, beneath the glossy images” (termpaperwarehouse.com). These words reflect the situation in the “Guts” too. It is obvious all characters had normal families. The narrator’s family was really close to the ideal – both parents are alive and together, the boy is a first baby and has a younger sister, own house with a swimming pool and direct plans for future life. The story demonstrated dark sides of these glossy images. Boys are interested in sexual behavior and seek for satisfaction in perverted actions.
The “Guts” main topic can be referred to the masculinity. According to some experts, sex disconnected from intimacy is on of the norms of this term. This is exactly what the story talks about. Boys worried only about sexual satisfaction and were not led by any romantic feelings. However, same authors said norms of masculinity include homophobia, while the first character showed opposite behavior. A wish to tuck carrot into the anus does not look too homophobic.
Bloody, naturalistic images in the Palahniuk’s “Guts” can be treated as proactive measures. People read it, and, because of the feeling of disgust, can think twice before trying to do something similar. The story also shows some aspects of masculinity. At first, it is the “Guts’” topic. The story is focused on boys’ desires to find new sex sensations. Experts often include this dedication to the definition of masculinity. The story also demonstrates the psychological traits of this term. Masculinity includes such thing as courage, and narrator need it to free himself and share this story with other.
Palahniuk, Chuck. “Guts”. Chuckpalahniuk.net. 2004. 4 Feb. 2016. <http://chuckpalahniuk.net/features/shorts/guts>
Weisman, Carrie. “The Top 5 Strangest Masturbation-Related Injuries”. Alternet.org. 10 Jan. 2015. 4 Feb. 2016. <http://www.alternet.org/top-5-strangest-masturbation-related-injuries>
“Masculinity in Chuck Palahniuk's Work”. Termpaperwarehouse.com. n. d. 4 Feb. 2016. <http://www.termpaperwarehouse.com/essay-on/Masculinity-In-Chuck-Palahniuk-s-Work/56095>