A Hunger Artist – Short Story
“A Hunger Artist” is a short story written by Franz Kafka. This short story focuses on a man known as “the hunger artist,” who fasts for a living, and travels around with his manager. In every town he goes to he puts himself on display in a cage, where he fasts for up to 40 days. This creates a lot of tension within the story and for the people who are reading it. There is so many times throughout the story where the people in the town had to know something was wrong with this man, or there was potential for something bad going to happen.
I think tension is mostly created after each of the hunger artists performance. Not only would that make these people sad and or scared, but create a ton of tension around town. This short story also shows a lot of menace because this man could be causing harm to either himself or people around him through his actions. Lastly, “the hunger artist” is in relentless motion throughout the story, he refuses to give into the crowd or into food, until they finally have to force feed him. Summary: This is a very good, well written, short story.
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At first when you read it, as the reader you aren’t exactly sure what it going to happen, which creates a lot tension in the reader. As the hunger artist sits in his cage, it seems like children are really drawn to him. They ask him questions, and he answers not seeming angry or mean, just with a smile. The adults in the town also seem to give him attention, but it’s more out of suspicion that the hunger artist is hiding food, which I think shows tension, menace, and relentless motion. He for one isn’t giving into the peoples accusations, but these rumors cause a lot of tension between the people in town and the hunger artist.
The people don’t believe that he is actually fasting and have men who watch him through the night to make sure he doesn’t eat, which displays menace and tension in the story. This is when the hunger artist starts to sing, but still nobody believes him and they think that he can just multitask between singing and eating. Even though everyone knows who this man is, he is a very sad unhappy man. Sooner than later the hunger artist realizes that because nobody will believe him, so only he can be happy with his courage and skill of self-denial.
I think the hunger artist at points feels really constrained by the fasting limits that are put on him, which creates more menace, tension, and relentless motion. I think we know that the hunger artist can fast for longer than 40 days, but his manager always cuts his performances short because the crowd becomes bored with it. So then the way his manager makes him break the fast is humiliating. Doctors go into the cage and check on the hunger artist and they announce it with a megaphone.
Then, 2 ladies from the crowd try to help the hunger artist from his cage, but because he hasn’t been eating he becomes very weak and delicate. At the end the hunger artist has been forced to eat, which I think then shows menace, tension, and relentless motion. At the end of every performance the hunger artist is only mad because he comes to see that his “fans” actually hate him, and that he knows he could of fasted way longer. During the story when people question or comment on him and he becomes angry he rattles his cage, which shows menace, tension, and relentless motion.
When the hunger artist and his manager break up he joins a circus because he wants to continue professional fasting. People don’t notice him at the shows, but I think his relentless motion is shown because he continues to fast even though I think he knows people aren’t interested in it anymore. Basically the hunger artist wastes away in his cage, ignored and unappreciated. At the end, the hunger artist is found in his cage almost dead. He asks to be forgiven and says that he only wanted to please people and be admired by them, which again shows his relentless motion.
He confesses that he only fasted because he couldn’t find food he liked, which presents the tension, and menace. The hunger artist is buried after he dies, and the story ends with him being replaced with a panther. Critique: I think “A Hunger Artist” was a good short story. It is a story with a moral. The moral that shows the dangers of pride the artist’s dislike of cultural change. The pride the hunger artist has leads to his dissatisfaction in life, and in the end his death. He is never content even knowing that he has not cheated and reached his goals, he only wants others to recognize his successes.
I think pride is what keeps him from being fulfilled. He is only satisfied when it is from other people, so he dies having no satisfaction. He doesn’t change himself, or others around him, and I don’t think his art really creates anything of importance, but he still keeps going which shows relentless motion. I thought it was kinda cool that none of the characters in “A Hunger Artist” have names, which I think adds to the tension. I think this is a short story that is about the hunger artist’s struggle, unfulfilled goals, and death.
It’s saying to let go of our pride or we might face a life that’s lacking in satisfaction and fulfillment. When you love something and you want to be the best you can and you will do anything to make it happen. The hunger artist always did what he thought he could do and more. I think a hidden meaning in this short story is that nobody can ever really know you like you know yourself. Overall I liked the different meanings in this short story, and I thought Kafka did a good job showing the tension, menace, and relentless motion during the story.