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"The Hunger Artist"

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Nikki Lloyd

on 25 October 2013

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Transcript of "The Hunger Artist"

Short Story Unit Assessment:
"The Hunger Artist"

"The Hunger Artist"
Franz Kafka
By: Nikki Lloyd
In the short story, "The Hunger Artist" by Franz Kafka, the hunger artist is a man who hungers, or fasts, for forty days; however, during this time he is shown almost as an exhibit in a cage. At all times, the hunger artist is closely observed by watchman, in which he only likes when they sit and tell their stories to him as he tells his stories to them. On the fortieth day, the hunger artist is taken out of his cage and fed, involuntarily, by the impresario; although as everyone rejoices that his hungering is over, the hunger artist becomes angry and begins to have outbursts. Eventually, the hunger artist joins the circus in order to hunger for as long as he wants, even though many people do not care for hungering anymore and just walk past him.
Literary Elements
Conflict: Internal and External
"The Hunger Artist" by Franz Kafka is a really great short story, and personally, I really enjoyed it. I would recommend this short story to anyone ready for a good read.

External Conflict
Definition: a struggle between a literary character and an outside force, which drives the dramatic action of the plot.
Man vs. Society: "they considered him a publicity hound or even a swindler, for whom hunger was easy," (872).
Man vs. Society: "he labored honestly, but the world was cheating him of his reward," (877).
Why?: The author uses this literary element to show that the hunger artist wanted to prove to the society around him that hungering could be done, and so he battles with them to prove his point.
Definition: a unify or dominant idea through the entire literary text.
"Nor did he seem to miss his freedom" (877), which suggests that the hunger artist missed his freedom while in the cage.
Why?: The author uses this literary element to show how one must go to extreme lengths to attain their goals and win the attention and admiration of others, however, this should never negatively impact one's freedom.
Definition: a psychological struggle within the mind of the literary character.
Man vs. Himself: "Yet there was another reason why he was never satisfied...; perhaps he was so emaciated because of dissatisfaction with himself," (872).
Man vs. Himself: "no one had any right to be dissatisfied with the show; no one, only the hunger artist himself-always only he himself," (873).
Why?: The author uses this literary element to show that not only was it the public that influenced his on-going hungering, but himself and the dissatisfaction he had constantly faced internally.
Definition: a figurative description or illustration, that a story conveys.
"His head lolled on his chest, looking as if it rolled there and were kept there in some inscrutable way; his body was hollowed out; his knees squeezed hard together in a self preservation cramp," (873).
Why?: The author uses this literary element to put a clear picture into the reader's mind of what the hunger artist's appearance was as he first left his cage.
Definition: the practice of representing something in a symbolic form.
The hunger artist sat in "a small barred cage" (870) for forty days.
Why?: The author uses this literary element to allow the cage to symbolize the hunger artist's alienation from society, and also the feeling of being imprisoned in his own body.
"not even heading the crucial striking of the clock," (871).
"he sought to refute that statement simply with photographs, which were so hawked and which showed the hunger artist on a fortieth day, in bed, debilitated, at death's door," (873).
Why?: The author uses this literary element to allow the clock to represent the hunger artist's internal clock, as he thinks his power of hungering will last for eternity.
Definition: the use of words to convey a meaning that is the opposite of its literal meaning.
"now he was supposed to stand up full-length and go to the meal, the very thought at which triggered nausea," (872).
"Because I couldn't find any food I liked. Had I found some, believe me, I wouldn't have made any fuss, I would have stuffed myself," (877).
Why?: The author uses this literary element to allow the readers to think that the hunger artist is queasy due to seeing food, when it is only really that he is a picky eater and does not like the sight of some foods.
Definition: noun: pressure; force.
"For insiders knew that during the hunger period the hunger artist would never, under any circumstance, no ever under
, have eaten the tiniest crumb," (871).
Under a lot of
to get her grades up before the marking period ended, Amelia studied all night and passed her Algebra exam.
Definition: noun: hiding place for goods or valuables.
"They assumed he could produce from some private
," (871).
Mollie put her favorite cookies in a
, so her brother, Marcus, would not find and eat them.
Definition: verb used as adjective: extremely thin; wasted away.
"Perhaps it was not mere hunger that left him so thoroughly
that some people, much to their regret, had to avoid his demonstrations," (872).
When Ivan found the dog in the abandoned house's basement, it was extremely
and had to be fed immediately.
Definition: adjective: traveling; moving from place to place.
"He was prepared to joke with them, tell them stories about his
life, then listen to their stories," (871).
Avery was always
in his twenties, however, now he has settled down in Austin, Texas.
Internal Conflict
This short story, "The Hunger Artist" by Franz Kafka, was chosen by the textbook because it allows for readers to realize that attaining your goals by following your dreams is very important to all people, however, on the path to attaining these goals you must not give up your freedom.
This pertains to readers because at the present time many people, teenagers in particular, listen to other's opinions and not their own which causes them to divert from the goals they had originally set.
So, what I saw that Kafka was trying to do was to tell readers to listen to your heart and not other's opinions because it is your life, not theirs.
This short story is a valuable piece of literature because it teaches the reader morals about how to live their life in their own way.
Personally, I didn't think I would like it but after reading it I felt more empowered to not listen to peoples' negative opinions and instead follow what my heart says.
"The Hunger Artist" is a great text to read in order to see that people can face the opinion of society as a whole and also the opinion of one's own mind, while also keeping the freedom one already possesses.
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