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The connection between food and marriage is further evidenced in Julie's attempt to have Felice Bauer coax Kafka to a more hearty diet in the same way that the passerbys coaxed the hunger artist to eat.
Despite Mecke's claim, Detsch (1985) argues there is no evidence to support it (346).
He concludes that the gaze in Kafka is a means of protagonists to "seek orientation, contact, and affiliation" in a patriarchal society to compensate with conflict about sexual orientation.
However, he has not examined the gaze in Ein Hungerknstler where the hunger artist is voyeur and exhibit, who seeks contact from passer-bys in the practice of his art, but also repulses them in spite of it.
Since Kafka literature is not in agreement about Kafka's sexual orientation, it seems more important to elucidate the conflict Kafka experienced in sex and relationships, which resulted from his discomfort about body and sex.
It seems certain that Kafka's distaste for meat was linked to his disgust with Hermann's propensity for it, and further, his disgust for Hermann's father as a slaughterer (268).
The carnivorous panther, who replaces the dead hunger artist, suggests patriarchal society cannot be subjugated as the overseer proclaims "order has been restored." Yet, one might suggest an inverse relationship between Hermann's consumption of meat and Kafka's vegetarianism with the lack of parental acceptance received. And like the hunger artist, who could never be satisfied with "any" food, so too, Kafka displayed a persistent need for family approval, which obstructed separation from them, and his desire to commit to a monogamous relationship.The hunger artist sings and tells jokes to ensure them that he has not eaten, and boasts that "fasting is the easiest thing in the world." When asked if he would like to eat, he would become enraged and rattle the cage.There, the hunger artist receives spotty attention, but fasts well beyond the 40-day limit; the placards had even lost track of his fast.The dilemma of the hunger artist is that he not only refuses to eat in the practice of his art, but also because he cannot find any food he liked.Several studies have drawn parallels between Kafka's fictional hunger artist with real-life hunger artists More specifically, Ryan (1991) notes that Brentanist thought characterized Ein Hungerknstler as evidenced in the third-person narration (109).One day, an overseer discovers the dirty straw and that the hunger artist is near death.The hunger artist begs for forgiveness, to which the overseer replies that his fasting is admired.When Julie asked Kafka to contact his Uncle Alfred, Kafka replied: I could have availed myself of invitations to take part in social, even, to an extent, public life; everything required of me I should have done, if not well, at least in middling fashion; even cardplaying would probably not have bored me overmuch - yet I refused.It seems apparent that Kafka lived ensnared in conflict between the need for isolation and meaningful interaction.Since the contract still implies his consent, the masochist attempts to undermine the volitional element by signing a "blank paper," like the hunger artist, who, upon joining the circus, avoided reading the conditions of his contract (437)The masochistic significance of fasting is complicated, however, by the fact, that it represents the desire to suffer masochistically at the same time it expresses the suffering of the failure to find real fulfillment in this direction (150).The hunger artist's dilemma is that he is bound to a contract, which not only binds the hunger artist to his "art of hungering," but is also in conflict and denial of human limitations.