Study Guide

The Demon's Lexicon Swords and Guns

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Swords and Guns

Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar, and sometimes a sword is just a sword. But in The Demon's Lexicon? There's definitely more going on with all this weaponry.

Think for a moment about who carries weapons, and which weapons they use.

Alan has a few knives as his disposal, but mostly he relies on his gun. Nick has several knives and a switchblade, but his primary weapon—and his weapon of choice—is his sword. Remember this detail while we take a look at our three main male characters and examine their levels of masculinity. Ready? Here we go:

  • Jamie—who demonstrates many stereotypically feminine qualities in that he is in touch with his and other people's emotions, he cares about relationships, and he doesn't feel a need to be aggressive or initiate action—carries no weapon.
  • Alan—who initiates many events and takes on a protector role in conflicts (two stereotypically masculine qualities) while still being a decent communicator and performing domestic tasks like cooking and cleaning—carries a gun.
  • And Nick—who is stereotypically hyper-masculine in that he, as Alan says, does "the heavy lifting (1.5)," is not in touch with his or other people's emotions, and is highly aggressive and domineering—carries a longsword.

Are you getting it yet? Their weaponry is directly connected to their masculinity, and you know what that means? It means that all these knives and guns and swords are phallic symbols.

Yeah, we know—that sounds really strange and kind of ridiculous, but the idea is not that Nick's sword is a penis—at least not literally. The idea is that Nick's sword and Alan's gun are symbols of their masculinity and the power they derive from being males in situations that favor men or stereotypically male characteristics such as physical strength and aggression.

If you're having trouble believing us, take a close look at the scene featuring the messenger in Chapter 3. For one thing, the repartee between Nick and Alan and the messenger, who just happens to be female, is highly sexualized from the start. When the messenger tells Nick he's looking "very grown up," he replies,

"I'm entering on manhood. […] You're a stylish, sophisticated, ever so slightly evil woman of the world. Do you think we could make it work?" (3.127-128)

Add to that the fact that the brothers have her sandwiched between them, with "Nick's sword at her spine and Alan's gun against her stomach" (3.133), and Nick's threat to "'cut the messenger in half with [his] great big sword'" (3.147), and we think you'll have a hard time disputing the weapons-as-wieners argument.

But hey, feel free to give it a try. We love a good debate.

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