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Isolation In A Hunger Artist: Suffering Is Inevitable

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Human beings go through the life process in search for happiness. it is the constant search for happiness that makes us value all the good memories life throws at us. However, this illusion of happiness does not always seem to be attained throughout the human life. There are periods people go through endless suffering and they have to deal with it, with the hope that all shall pass and a happy moment will come their way again. Being preoccupied to achieve this state that has been idealized may make people realize how the world is a rollercoaster and suffering is just part of the process that can never be escaped.

Isolation can cause an individual so much suffering since it causes an individual to have starvation of expressing oneself without having to hide anything. When an individual is going through issues in life, most people tend to withdraw from the society and keep a lot to themselves. This is normally the case because human beings are conditioned into thinking that they are solely responsible for what they are going through and can get through it after some time. Most cases it is usually not intentional. In where are you going, where have you been, Connie isolates herself from the rest of the family, and friends hiding from her true self. She has to camouflage to so as to fit in wherever she goes depending on the audience because she feels no one can understand her. In a hunger artist, the artist is isolated from his spectators. He seems not to be in a relationship with the audience and feels misunderstood. Laurie Adams refuses to isolate himself from his sexuality, even though people judge him he has made it a point that he will not hide and, in the closet, he therefore lives so happy with little suffering. On the other hand, his friend Rakeem is in constant fear since he wants to isolate his sexuality from the others who do not understand him, this ends up giving him a hard time and suffering to the extent of quitting school

Society is usually a powerful component in a person’s life, and may cause more damage than good to an individual at times. Most of the time a society can be harsh to an individual because of the choices they decide to make if it is not in line with what the majority believes in. the idea that one cannot connect to the other people in a society because of their life choices can lead to so much suffering. In most cases the individual is out to do what makes them happy, however their decision may be akin to the society’s way of life causing them to be castigated for making such a choice. In A Proper Library the society is so much against gay culture. Laurie is castigated by his peers for being gay and is constantly called a faggot. This choice he made is not in life with the society at that particular time, making him be judged harshly. On the other hand, in Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been, Connie is seen to have double personality so that she is able to blend in the society depending on her crowd. She doesn’t want to be judged so she has to pretend to be someone she is not (Urbanski 31). In Gooseberries however, Nikolai, doesn’t seem to care what the society make of him. He chooses to marry an older rich woman just to get ahead in life and no one could stop him. Society od course, had their opinion on this but that did not deter him from doing what he had set out to do to make himself happy and achieve his A Hunger Artist, the artist is seen to care about what the society thinks and want society to validate his actions. When the society doesn’t give him what he wants, he is seen to constantly suffer. For him societies opinion is an integral part of his life since he has made it so.

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When one is constantly obsessed about something, they don’t get the happiness they want until they get rid of the obsession. Human obsessions vary and they tend to want them fulfilled. When these obsessions and fantasies are not met, one gets to be in constant state of suffering since what their heart is longing for can not be obtained. These obsessions tend to rob individuals of their reality and it becomes difficult to convince them otherwise. The ability to be able to categorically point out on the obsessions one can fulfill and the ones that are just mere fantasies can be difficult. To fulfill these obsessions an individual may be willing to go to any length to get the desires fulfilled, but in the long run it may all end up to the person suffering. Like in Where Are You Going where have you been, Connie is obsessed with her looks and illusions on boys, love and sex. She believes these are the only things she desires to be happy and spends most of her time trying to achieve all these, in her quest for these obsessions, she ends up being hurt and suffers in ways she could not have imagined. In Gooseberries, Nikolai is obsessed with material things like buying land and growing gooseberries on them, a man that was ones well mannered turned out to be selfish and egoistical blinded by his pursuit of his obsession. He does not see the bigger picture of the suffering he is causing to the oppressed due to the social class that has been created. The hunger artist obsession with the need of being superior than any other being makes him go to greater lengths like elevating his fasting to rather mythical proportions just to fascinate the crowd, (Neumarkt, 15) this obsession of superiority is not achieved despite the great lengths he goes, causing him to suffer from unfulfilled want.

An individual’s own family is usually seen as the safest haven one can ever have. Family is the only back bone people lean on when everything turns south and the only people one need is close families who knows them well and will understand them. the need for a normal functional family may also turn out into an illusion since many families turn out not to be. In the real sense is everyone is stuck with the family they get, and as people grow, they tend to either get closer with the family members of they just drift apart. Many times, people have so little control over it because independence and freedom make people realize what they actually want from what they don’t and their decisions may affect the relationships they have with their family members. In a proper library the Laurie’s family is so full of love and support for one another, they talk things out, help one another and no one is discriminated against just as a family should be. In the gooseberries, Nikolai and his brother Ivan, don’t have the brotherly love at all. Everyone is one a different opinion about life. Ivan tends to judge his brother so harshly because of the choices he has made that are not in line with his. Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been? The family appears as functional but in the real sense it is not at all (Oates, 27), the father does not the kids the attention they need, the father-daughter relationship is not they’re at all. The mother does not see through the lies Connie keep saying. However, Connie shows she has so much love for her family when Arnold Friend tells her to go with him or else her family will be in trouble.

A person’s sexuality can be seen a favor or a curse depending on the situation, place or time. most of the time the women are expected to be the submissive gender, with a meek sexuality, while the men are supposed to be macho. Some [people struggle with their sexuality and this causes them to suffer a great deal through it. in Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been, Connie is constantly battling with exploring her sexuality. she is so happy with the attention she gets until it finally lands her in the wrong place with the wrong person. In a proper library, women’s sexuality is portrayed as meek and they go through a lot of suffering in the hands of macho men, all they want is to keep the men in their lives even if those men, treat them so poorly and they suffer so much. In Gooseberries, Nikolai uses his sexuality for his own gain, he decides to marry a woman she does not love for the benefit of money since this would give him what he wants and make him happy. In this case he uses his sexuality to move from a point he thought he was suffering because of lack of money (Bill, 158), to a place he believes he’s happier and more satisfied. When a society where there is gender role, it becomes so difficult for everyone to be happy since the stipulated gender roles may not work for everybody. This leads to violence that arises between both genders. Gender roles may cause discrimination of an individual who does not conform to the roles as stipulated. This

Work citation

  1. Oates, Joyce Carol, and Tobias Wolff. Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been? Diffusion, Centro de Investigación y Publicaciones de Idiomas, 2013.
  2. Urbanski, Marie. ‘Existential Allegory: Joyce Carol Oates’s’ Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been? “.” Studies in Short Fiction 15.2 (1978): 200.
  3. Bill, Valentine T. ‘Nature in Chekhov’s Fiction.’ The Russian Review 33.2 (1974): 153-166.
  4. Neumarkt, Paul. ‘Kafka’s’ A Hunger Artist’: the ego in isolation.’ American Imago 27.2 (1970): 109-121.

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Isolation In A Hunger Artist: Suffering Is Inevitable. (2022, March 18). Edubirdie. Retrieved September 25, 2023, from
“Isolation In A Hunger Artist: Suffering Is Inevitable.” Edubirdie, 18 Mar. 2022,
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