Josephine the Singer

by Franz Kafka

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Last Updated on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 352

In Franz Kafka's story "Josephine the Songstress or the Mouse Folk" there is really only one central character. This, of course, is Josephine.

In the beginning of the story, we learn first that Josephine is the one singer among the Mouse Folk. Kafka writes:

Josephine makes an exception, she loves music and knows how to deliver its power.


the beauty of her singing is so powerful that even the greatest antagonism is outdone, such sensibilities crumble in her presence.

However, as the story continues, we learn that in reality, Josephine is not exactly a phenomenal singer. In fact, her singing is simply whistling. We learn that all the Mouse Folk tend to whistle, and Josephine's music is not much more impressive than that of the other folk.

And yet Josephine has enchanted the others and has managed to captivate them through concerts and drama. Though no one can quite say what it is that draws them to her, nearly everyone attends her performances.

The story centers around Josephine and the narrator's attempt to understand her and understand how the Mouse Folk relate to her.

The narrator, of course, is another central character, but we don't learn much about him. The narrator has no name or unique traits. In some ways he is a spokesperson for all the Mouse Folk, as he is relaying to the reader their thoughts, culture, and opinion on Josephine.

Other characters are the admirers of Josephine. There's a small group that follows her dutifully, plays along with all her antics, and encourages her constantly to continue performing. This group of admirers is quite different from the other Mouse Folk. They seem to be more aware of Josephine's supposed talents and are willing to entertain the idea of her as celebrity.

The other Mouse Folk are less amused. They attend each performance and listen dutifully, but cannot quite understand what draws them to the performance. They take care of Josephine but do not give in to her demands and are largely unaffected by any of her attempts to be dramatic. They attend the concerts but walk out unchanged.

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