Kafka and Marquez
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In Franz Kafka's "A Hunger Artist" and in Gabriel Garcia Marquez's " A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings," an understanding of the cruelty of mankind is revealed through an examination of the themes and the characters in both of their stories. Although these stories are both written in two different styles, there are a few common threads within them that make them interesting to compare. By comparing these two stories one is able to fully understand the struggles incurred by those individuals who are different from what society considers being normal.
The first area within these stories that shares this common thread is the theme of both stories. Kafka and Marquez both focus on society's fascination with things that are different and unique. However, the theme does not stop there, because in both stories the individuals who are unique are both mistreated. In "A Hunger Artist," the hunger artist is unique because of his ability to fast for long periods of time. In fact, people in towns would pay money just to have the pleasure of watching him do nothing in his cage, but starve. They wanted to make sure that he did not eat. In fact, they even hired permanent watchers whose only task was "to watch the hunger artist day and night, three of them at a time, in case he should have some secret recourse to nourishment" (Kafka 197). The children were also fascinated by the hunger artist's ability to refuse food, however, "for their elders he was often just a joke that happened to be in fashion" (Kafka 196). Instead of respecting the hunger artist for his self-control, the public trivialized his "job." He was placed among the animals at the circus, as nothing more than a freak show. The way the people in the towns treated the hunger artist shows that society abuses those people who are unique for their own entertainment.
In the story "A Very Old Many with Enormous Wings," the same theme of society's cruelty is also displayed by an old man who looks like an angel. The...