Hello and welcome to Episode 2 of “May & Kafka,” the podcast that gives you the best analysis of Franz Kafka’s published works. I’m your host, May the bookworm.
“In this episode, I am going to analyze Kafka’s poem ‘The Outing in the Mountains’ by addressing a global issue in the poem and exploring the techniques that Kafka uses. it’s important to understand how Kafka’s works reflect the real world
- I will be discussing the poem The Outing in the Mountains from Franz Kafka’s poetry collection ‘Contemplation.’
- My chosen global issue is the devastation of loneliness on human sanity.
- It is significant as social isolation is a worldwide problem, often hindering people’s health and well-being. Particularly, we are feeling the impact of this problem during this time of social distancing.
- Kafka presents the global issue of the devastation of loneliness on human sanity through language, form, and structure.
- Repetition: The words ‘nobody’ and ‘nobodies’ are repeated 10 times. Emphasizes that there are no physical beings around the narrator, illustrating his isolation. However, because the words are repeated many times, and the phrase “a bunch of nobodies” is also repeated, it illustrates that there are in fact many people around him, but they are still deemed as “nobodies” because they do not frequent the narrator nor do they have any interactions with him, evincing that his feeling of loneliness is a deeper problem – it cannot be cured by the mere presence of other physical beings, but requires careful nurture and connections with other people.
- Tone: Begins with a self-deprecating tone, confessing that he “doesn’t know…” that he “just doesn’t know.” He is sharing some of his rawest emotions, questioning his situation and his state of being, his sanity already seems to dwindle. His tone progresses to desperation when he asks why “nobody wants to help [him].” This tone indicates stronger emotions and his deepest desire – to have somebody. This desire is also expressed when he explicitly states “I would love to…go on an outing with a bunch of absolute nobodies.” This transitions his tone in the latter half of the poem to be more ecstatic and epiphanic. Kafka teases himself and plays with this idea of “going on an outing with a bunch of nobodies” by frequently asking “and why not?” and “into the mountains, naturally – where else?” Everything suddenly makes sense to him once he is aware of his desire to join a group of other people. This shows that the fundamental cause of his sadness is loneliness.
- Juxtaposition: Like the title states, the narrator is imagining an outing with a bunch of absolute nobodies in the mountains. However, it is also mentioned that everyone is “in tailcoats.” The authorial choice to juxtapose tailcoats and mountains creates an unnatural image. This can be interpreted in two ways. One, it visualizes the corrupt mental state of the narrator due to intense loneliness. Two, it indicates that the nobodies no longer cares about any worries, they are free to wear whatever wherever. In other words, once the narrator escapes into the mountains with a bunch of friends, his deepest sadness (which is loneliness) will be gone and he will finally become carefree. However, this outing into the mountains is only a dream. Therefore, in reality, he is suffering intense pain from loneliness, and to make himself feel better, he is even contemplating to escape into the mountains like a madman.
- Inclusive pronouns + Exclamation marks: In the last two sentences, the voice of the piece decides that he is no longer separate from these nobodies. He is one of them. He announces this by pronouncing the inclusive pronouns “we” and “our.” At this point, he uses diction such as “free,” “easy,” and “open.” In addition, Kafka uses three exclamatory phrases. It summarizes that in order to achieve such euphoria, he must be with other people, and completely emerge himself in the wave of limbs and legs, and again points at the pain of loneliness. However, Kafka states they still are unable to “sing” because singing would mean they are beyond suffering, and as readers, we know that in reality, the narrator is still very much alone. Therefore, once the narrator clicks out of his reverie, his state of mind would revert back to the beginning, where loneliness threatens his sanity.
In the next episode, we’re going to continue to analyze Franz’s Kafka’s works, and we will be discussing ‘The Sudden Stroll”! Wish you could be featured on a future episode of “May & Kafka”? You can! Just click on the link in the show notes to submit your application.