Hunger Artist By Kafka

In life there are many codes that define us as individuals and as a society. In
order to further discuss the code we must first establish the definition and
nature of a code and what it entails. It is an unspoken oath to an idea or way
of life to which we feel dedicated and devoted. The way we are influenced by our
surroundings and the way we react or feel we are supposed to react to them are a
result of our interpretation of that code. While the code is artistic at the
same time it is cruel. It can embody its disciple with such an overwhelming grip
that they feel they can never get out of its cage. The misinterpretation of the
code is easily achieved. In the case of the Hunger Artist, the code of his
artistic ability to fast produces self-enlightenment to insight. As a result it
reveals to him his hunger is for answers. It reveals self-definition for him as
an artist and as a man. Furthermore it reveals to him his hypocrisy and
fraudulence. All of which leave him feeling unsatisfied and hungry. His hunger
for answers is his journey for truth and meaning in life. He needs to feel
accomplishment and self worth but is faced with the sad but true fact that no
one will give him the recognition he feels he so rightly deserves. He wants
answers to why the crowds of people and the impresario can never praise him
enough even if he has the perfect setting and time to fast for as long as he
desires. " Perhaps said the hunger artist to himself many a time, things would
be a little better if his cage were set not quite so near the menagerie."
(Kafka 225) He feels as though he’s being cheated of his opportunity to be the
greatest faster thus far in history. The harsh reality of the fact is that he
knows this cloak of fame could never render the satisfaction he needs to fill
the hunger in his life. No matter how long he fasts he will still be left
feeling empty, unadmired, and unsatisfied because of their lack of understanding
and the "failure of the public to recognize the validity of his
achievement." (Mitchell 242) " He was therefore bound to be the sole
completely satisfied spectator of his own fast. Yet for other reasons he was
never satisfied. " (Kafka 221) Never satisfied because of the way fasting
makes him feel as an artist and as a man. He never receives the pat on the back
saying well done which leaves him feeling like an inadequate failure. And when
they do tell him they admire him his guilt, from knowing the truth about how
easy it is to fast, leaves him feeling admired for the wrong reasons. " I
always wanted you to admire my fasting, but you shouldn’t admire it because I
have to fast, I can’t help it." (Kafka 226) His feeling of underachievement
leaves him searching for someone to blame. Someone must be the cause of this
suffering. At first he points to anything and everyone who stands in the way of
his rightful ownership to glory from his honorable work. Later to be admitted
that this pain and suffering is self chosen and indeed not honorable because of
the mask of hypocrisy and fraudulence behind which he has been hiding. Hiding
because of the fear to accept the truth about his artistic ability and the
reality of how easy it is for him to perform the task of fasting. While others
say they admire him for his phenomenal acts of self-discipline through fasting,
he knows that "the unnatural is natural to him, and the hunger artist is
troubled by his hypocrisy." (Norris179) He knows that the task of fasting is
not artistic in his case because of the nature of the motive and its simplicity.

His dedication to the code has him trapped inside himself. Trapped inside the
cage of his own hypocrisy and fraudulence, which leaves him with a feeling of
eternal hunger. Eternal hunger for the quest to find the soul food he desires
and to find the answer to why he will never find the satisfaction he is looking
for to make him whole. This hypocrisy and fraudulence of lying to himself has
him very troubled inside. " But in his dimming eyes remained the firm though
no longer proud persuasion that he was still continuing to fast." (Kafka 226)

Even as he is dying he is