Metafiction: Kafka's A Hunger Artist and Santiago's The Somebody Essay

Metafiction: Kafka's A Hunger Artist and Santiago's The Somebody Essay

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Metafiction questions the relationship between fiction and reality. It is used as a way to ask the reader what does this fictional story say about reality, without literally stating the question. Challenging thoughts about the reality of the story, Franz Kafka and Danny Santiago are both authors who have utilized this technique. Through the stories the suffrages endured at the hands of art are made visible. “A Hunger Artist”, Franz Kafka, and “The Somebody”, Danny Santiago, are both stories in which the protagonist seeks public recognition and artistic individualism due to their separation from society.
“A Hunger Artist” is a short story narrated by an artist who publically starves himself as a form of art. He is separated, by his own will, from society by a cage, which is symbolic of the divide between an artist and his audience. While the separation may help the artist be more appreciative of his accomplishments, spectators doubt his commitment and assume that he is sneaking food because of their lack of understanding due to the division. There are always different perspectives, and the reason that any artist creates something is often perceived differently. Art is a freedom though; it allows the artist a release and the spectators an escape into their thoughts and feelings. Therefore, art cannot be limited, but for the hunger artist, it is. The artist’s “impresario”, similar to a producer, limits his fasting; despite the artist beliefs that he can fast for longer. The period of fasting is limited because after forty days “the town [would begin] to lose interest [and] sympathetic support [would] notably to fall off.” Therefore, on the fortieth day the artist was forcibly stripped of his pride and commitment to his art...


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...alive. Chato disconnects himself from society when he tries to gain a community by receiving recognition for his illegal, artistic cries of help.
In conclusion, both “A Hunger Artist” and “The Somebody” are short stories depicting the struggles of an artist. Both the Hunger Artist and Chato craved recognition and compassion in their lives and for their art. Their individualism led to their separations from society and ultimately their isolation. Franz Kafka and Danny Santiago demonstrate the hardships artists endure in reality through their fictional stories. Both utilize the skill of metafiction to stress the importance of recognition to the artists concerning their art.



Works Cited

Kafka, Franz. A Hunger Artist. Cambridge: ProQuest Information and Learning, 2002. Print.
Santiago, Danny. The Somebody. Logan, Iowa: Perfection Form Company, 1979. Print.

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