A Hunger Artist
by Franz Kafka
A Hunger Artist Summary
How It All Goes Down
A few decades ago, a hunger artist was enormously popular. This is his story.
The hunger artists act tours the cities of Europe, where crowds come to view his cage day and night. (That's right – he hangs out in a cage, wearing a black leotard.) During his act, he starves himself for forty days. Then, in an amphitheater filled with spectators, he leaves his cage and eats his first meal in over a month.
Suddenly, the hunger artist is no longer popular. He and his manager tour Europe, looking for an audience, but they just can't find anybody to watch. The hunger artist fires his manager and signs on as an act in a large circus.
At the circus, the hunger artist is just a sideshow. His cage is placed in between the main circus and the animal menagerie, which sounds rather embarrassing. Circus-goers stream past his cage on the way to the menagerie of exotic animals, and they barely notice his existence.
Overlooked and forgotten, the hunger artist continues to starve.
One day, the circus supervisor actually notices the hunger artist's cage. After poking around in the straw, he discovers the hunger artist, barely alive. Before dying, the hunger artist murmurs his last words into the supervisor's ear.
The circus workers bury the hunger artist with his straw. They move a panther into his cage, which really pleases the circus-goers.