Essay on Starvation and Hunger Artist

Submitted By dhews
Words: 1007
Pages: 5

The Feelings of Hunger
In the poem “Ramada” by Kazim Ali, we witness the speaker emotionally struggle while resisting the urge to eat during Ramadan. The speaker explains the tradition and describes the feelings and personal problems associated with fasting for the religious holiday. In the essay A Hunger Artist by Franz Kafka, we learn about a man whose job is to starve himself for multiple days as a performance. We as readers, see his perspective on starvation as a profession and why it is a dying entertainment. The poem and the short essay both have similar themes of starvation, hunger, desire, and internal conflict. However, they differ in style of writing and the types of literary devices that are used to show the speaker and main characters feelings. The poem “Ramadan”, and the short essay A Hunger Artist, both have a similar theme centered on starvation, however motives, writing style and literary devices differ and allow us to see the common emotions present in each piece of literature. Both of these pieces have a central idea of starvation and hunger. Ramadan is a Muslim holiday in which practicing Muslims fast for a whole month. The title alone gives the reader a notion that this piece will have to do with not eating. Like the title of “Ramadan”, the title of the essay signals that the piece will also have to do with hunger. We as readers are clued in to a major common idea in both of these pieces from the titles. Furthermore, the speaker of Ramadan struggles internally to avoid eating. We see this in the line, “nineteenth, twenty-first, and twenty-third evenings. The liturgy begins to echo itself and why does it matter?” (Ali 3-4). After researching Ramadan, and discussing the poem in class, these lines are referring to the Night of Power. This is the most important night of Ramadan, and is towards the end of the month when one would be the hungriest and craving something to eat. This highlights the struggle it is to refrain from eating when it is most important, despite being so hungry by the end of the month. In A Hunger Artist, the man refrains from eating as a profession. He sits in a cage with only a glass of water as people around him observe and antagonize him to eat. The man takes pride in his profession showed in the lines, “…in visible glory, honored by the world, yet in spite of that, troubled in spirit, and all the more troubled because no-one would take his trouble seriously” (Kafka 3). This shows that the world does not understand why he is fasting and hinders his emotions of pride he has in his profession.
While these two pieces share a similar theme of hunger, and both the speaker and main character experience similar emotions, the poem “Ramadan” and A Hunger Artist differ in many ways. The speaker of Ramadan is fasting for a religious holiday. In comparison to the man from A Hunger Artist who fasts as a form entertainment. Fasting for Ramadan is taken seriously to show your faith and devotion to the religion. This is a common practice and takes a lot of self-control and will power. The speaker of Ramadan shows excitement to fast saying, “You wanted to be so hungry, you would break into branches” (Ali 1). This shows the feelings of excitement to fast at the beginning of Ramadan in comparison to the difficulty it takes to not eat as the month continues. In A Hunger Artist, the man fasting for entertainment is always stopped from fasting at forty days because crowds would begin to lose interest. People would begin to doubt if he was actually fasting. The man explains his feeling of fasting by the lines, “For he alone knew, what no other initiate knew, how