A Hunger Artist Questions and Answers
by Franz Kafka

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What does the cage symbolize in "A Hunger Artist"?

The cage in "A Hunger Artist" symbolizes the protagonist's alienation from society. The spectators who watch his performance do not understand the artist's striving for perfection. Instead of an artist at work, all that the audience can see is a madman who's cheating them, pretending to fast when he actually isn't. The cage can also be said to symbolize security, something that protects the artist from a hostile society.

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Like any self-respecting artist, the protagonist of "A Hunger Artist" sees himself as a class apart from the rest of society. He doesn't subscribe to society's dominant value-system, which he sees as irredeemably bourgeois and philistine. At the same time, however, he relies upon the society he loathes to provide him with an audience for his very public form of performance art.

His hunger is not just physical hunger, hunger for food, but spiritual hunger, hunger for recognition of his remarkable artistic feats. But so long as there's a barrier between himself and society—as symbolized by the...

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