Study Guide

The Art of Fielding Men & Masculinity

By Chad Harbach

Men & Masculinity

We have to wonder if Chad Harbach ever considered The Sperm Squeezers as an alternate title for this book. No, we're not being crass. (Us, crass? Never!) There are actually two books-within-a-book in The Art of Fielding. One is the titular Art of Fielding and the other is The Sperm Squeezers, Guert Affenlight's "study of the homosocial and the homoerotic" (6.18) on whaling ships like the Pequod, Captain Ahab's vessel in Moby Dick. This is a novel that's more about homosocial—and at times homoerotic—relationships off the baseball field than on it, making The Sperm Squeezers a more thematically appropriate title than The Art of Fielding. But can you see the headline "The #1 New York Times Bestseller is The Sperm Squeezers"? No, we can't either.

Questions About Men & Masculinity

  1. Define masculinity within the context of this novel. Which characters are the most masculine and why?
  2. Does Pella, the book's sole female character, display any masculine qualities? If so, what are they?
  3. When Guert and Owen enter into a sexual relationship, who assumes the stereotypically feminine role and who assumes the stereotypically masculine role? Why? Do these roles ever flip?

Chew on This

Baseball is inherently masculine in the world of The Art of Fielding. The training, weight lifting, and game playing all seem to revolve around showing how much testosterone the guys all have.

In The Art of Fielding, homosexuality does not negate masculinity. Contrary to the stereotypes, this book proves that it is possible to be both masculine and homosexual, or to display homosexual desires.