Hunger Literary Elements

Hunger Literary Elements


A novel

Setting and Context

The actions take place in the city of Christiania, Norway. The time is not indicated, but considering the absence of electricity it must have been in the end of the 19th century.

Narrator and Point of View

The events are revealed by the narrator in the first-person singular

Tone and Mood

The tone of the novel is depressing and sad

Protagonist and Antagonist

The protagonist is the unnamed narrator, he is a main character retelling the story of his starvations. The antagonist is hunger.

Major Conflict

The major conflict of the story is an unbearable feeling of hunger causing physical pain, and preventing the main hero of finding his place under the sun.


The climax occurs when the narrator is realizing he is very close to madness


Constant starvations do not predict anything good, and so it is – the narrator's health is seriously damaged


No name of the character is not given, which makes the story rather impersonal


The plot alludes to Bartholomew's night when describing the narrator's working process and the way his brains were burning


Descriptions of gloomy weather stand as background for the narrator's misfortunes, they add negative and depressive coloring to the story


The main paradox stands in the narrator's stubbornness, even starving really hard he sometimes refuses help from others because of his arrogance and self-importance



Metonymy and Synecdoche

The author uses synecdoche when describing the workers of a newspaper office, a clerk is referred to as “Scissors”, who is constantly busy with the papers and has little time even to rise his head; the editor is called "commandor". These “names” reveal their characteristics and describe their duties and responsibilities.
The other very vivid use of synecdoche is when a woman is called “red dress”. The narrator is watching her walking down the street: “the red dress that was coming nearer up the street”, “the red dress glided up and disappeared”. This woman is the one the hero has met before and called her with a mysterious name Ylajali.


Personification is very often used in the story: “the darkness had taken possession of my thoughts”, “hunger put in its appearance afresh, gnawed at my breast, clutched me, and gave small, sharp stabs that caused me pain”, “once more my thoughts ran without rein in intricate paths”.

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