The Hunger Artist analysis

The Hunger Artist by Franz Kafka

We discussed the hunger artist in class today. All of Kafka’s work has a religious undertone. The hunger artist in the story is very christlike in his refusal to give in to natural physical needs, denying his hunger and connections with the outside world. The art is how the hunger sculpts his body and in denying a physical need that could potentially lead to death.

I proposed that it had a parallel with the passage from the bible that its not food alone that man needs. Meaning the hunger artist is hungering for something other than a physical need. Maybe this need is spiritual, perhaps it could also be a self fulfillment. However I definitely felt that the hunger artist had a faith that helped him endure. The hunger could even be a representation of the roman perfection except in an opposite way stripping the man down to his bare bones to show the perfection of his soul.

The twist comes at the end of the piece where he says he never liked food anyways. Its almost a metaphor that self denial for piety is natural for those who don’t love life (never liking the food) and they become a symbol for something greater that we can strive for but never attain. This food that he denies himself could represent desire (sex, love, materialism, food, relaxation (sloth) etc…) things that come natural to those who don’t keep their appreciation for life in check.

The panther could be simply put those people we see on mtv /vh1 who are living life to its fullest and putting themselves first with no moral code or for no grand purpose. I also felt the hunger artist had faith, not in god but in himself because he knew he could fast longer than anyone else. It was almost as if the hunger itself were a religion/god for him.
The hunger artist is a good read. You can read it here: