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The premise of “A Hunger Artist” may be phrased as follows: What if the world placed a premium on the technique of fasting, admired practitioners of the art, but then lost interest? The plot involves a conflict between the pride and integrity of the unnamed Hunger Artist, on the one hand, and the fading demand to see him, finally resulting in nothingness, on the other. The setting of the story is adequately detailed, with the various locations of the Hunger Artist’s cages having both realistic and symbolic value. The placement of his cage on the way to the menagerie indicates his loss of prominence, and finally his descent to anonymity and invisibility. The limited point of view (with brief excursions into omniscience in the collective responses of the artist-viewing public) carefully traces all details of the Hunger Artist’s career, and also focuses often on the Artist’s responses. The Hunger Artist, always thin, becomes almost invisible by the story’s end, for those seeking him have to search for him in the straw of his cage. The grim irony of his situation is that at the very end he too disparages his own achievement (paragraph 9).Within this pattern of meaning, the story has an ordinary enough structure. The exposition takes place in paragraph 1, and the complication from paragraphs 2–8. The crisis and climax are both in paragraph 9 (the paragraphs are remarkably long), and the resolution in paragraph 10.
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