Hunger By Knut Hamsun

Submitted By koo21sha
Words: 1275
Pages: 6

Koosha Samani
Scand 150
Jan Sjavik

I have qualified for W-Credit.


For my final paper, I chose to write about one of my favorite assigned books in the course; Hunger by Knut Hamsun. This novel was fascinating to me because of the way Hamsun charts the ups, downs, frustrations, and struggles of an unstable, yet intelligent mind. The narrator of the story (nameless) is an intellectual man living in Norway; he is poor and constantly starving. In order to make the miniscule amount of money that he does, he sells articles to pedestrians. Although he has rare moments of optimism, most of the time he is without hope. The story or purpose of the novel is the experience the narrator endures through his high and low moments, and his struggle to keep moving forward in life. I believe that the author’s purpose is to portray the beauty and hope in a struggle.

Throughout the novel, the same scenario keeps repeating itself over and over again. The narrator is starving, the conditions of his life worsen, however; he always ends up getting enough money and food to remain alive. It is an on-going cycle where things seem to be okay for a brief moment, and then his condition goes back to worsening and so on and so forth. The depressive mind is an internal struggle, where hope forms, adopts an idea, latches on to that idea, builds encouragement, and then get brought back down to an unforgiving reality. As a reader, it’s like come on things need to start getting better already, and it becomes tiresome to see the narrator fall back down, however, we still keep that hope inside of use that he will rise. As moments of optimism appear, viewing the situation seems a little bit brighter. Then something else is triggered, more obstacles arise, and then the struggle continues again.

One of the major themes in the novel is the narrator’s attitude towards his everyday life. The narrator has a lot of time on his hands each day, and the only necessity to keep him self alive is to give each of his days a sense of purpose. Besides his writing, the narrator’s main goal is to persevere and get by. Due to the fact that he barely has any money, the narrator goes through each day trying to write, moving from bench to bench, and scheming for ways to obtain food to help to his hunger. Because he has so much free time, the narrator has a lot of time to think, which in turn makes the novel predominantly about what goes on inside of his head; his mental state. Throughout the story, the narrator’s experiences come down to the little things he comes across. At a point in the novel, the narrator uses the noises and lights from cars in traffic to uplift his spirits, only to be devastated by seeing a limping man. To rid himself of the old man, the narrator approaches him and discovers that he is a beggar. Without any money to offer, he quickly runs to the store, sells his waistcoat, and then offers the beggar some of the money from the sale. This example is just one of many instances where the narrator gives away money even though he is starving. This ties back in to the narrator’s mental state in which he receives bits of hope, and then his optimism instantly gets crushed by an event that hurts his heart. An expression such as this shown by the narrator portrays his intellectual mind and kind heart combined with his chemically imbalanced brain that disallows him to strive in the world that he is living in.

To my estimation, the narrator operates under a deep sense of pride and kindness mixed in with twisted logic and a sense of uncertainty about his living situation. Many examples show that the narrator quickly gets irritated, and puts the situation into his own hands and gives when he really has nothing to give (example: old man). In his mind, his actions are rationalized that it is his responsibility to fix a situation because he owes it to everybody else. His proud attitude puts him in situations where he becomes