Short Story Analysis
"A Hunger Artist" by Franz Kafka
Franz Kafka, the author of A Hunger Artist and many other short stories, was born and raised in Prague, a capital of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. He was raised by successful parents and had a planned course in life to follow. He was often compared to his father, being the only surviving son, and he felt like a disappointment. Kafka lived a sorrowful life in his father’s shadow. It was filled with trials and ordeals leading him to retire with tuberculosis at 39. After he had retired, he wrote many fiction short stories. “In his works, Kafka presents a grotesque vision of the world in which alienated, angst-ridden individuals vainly seek to transcend their condition or pursue some unattainable goal” ("Franz Kafka"). His short stories consist of the hardships of life ending with disappointment. Kafka expresses his feelings of alienation in "A Hunger Artist" where the main character locks himself in a cage, separating himself from others. He continued to write these distressing stories until he died two years after retirement. Franz Kafka lived an unsatisfying life that seemed to reflect on his short stories.
"A Hunger Artist" Summary
"A Hunger Artist" by Franz Kafka is about a professional faster who was once a must-see attraction. People would come for days to watch him and talk to him. He would fast for forty whole days straight. No one was concerned about him or his health, just the show. Thus, he felt a profound loneliness even with all the fans he had gained. After years of performing, amusement-seekers stopped enjoying his shows. They would rather watch exciting attractions, so they stopped coming. He loved fasting way too much to stop, so he fasted as a circus attraction. People passed him by without notice on their way to the animals. Even the circus staff forgot about him until they found him dying in his cage. His bitter death did not affect the circus, though, as they cleared out the cage immediately for a bigger and better attraction.
Analysis of Theme
"A Hunger Artist." Short Stories for Students. Ed. Franz Kafka. Vol. 7. Detroit: Gale, 2000. 99-121. Print.
"Franz Kafka." Gale Online Encyclopedia. Detroit: Gale, 2016. Literature Resource Center. Web. 2 May 2016.
Kafka, Franz. "A Hunger Artist." PDF File.