A Hunger Artist Questions and Answers
by Franz Kafka

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Can you explain the symbols and the ironies in the story "A Hunger Artist"?

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In Kafka's classic short story "A Hunger Artist," the main symbols are:

  • the hunger artist vs. the crowds of onlookers: establishes the themes spirituality vs. decadence; individualism vs. conformity.  Is being a hunger artist a profession (by which one makes money and a name for oneself) or a spiritual fasting to eliminate desire?
  • "the all-important striking of the clock that was the only piece of furniture in his cage"...: establishes the theme of time; the hunger artist was in vogue, but no more (which is to say that spirituality is a thing of the past).
  • food :...

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