Type: Literary Analysis
Pages: 5 | Words: 1277
Reading Time: 6 Minutes

This essay will examine the existence of a person and whether existence with complete isolation from other humans or beings is possible. In his book “The Burrow”, Franz Kafka narrates of a creature that struggles for its entire life to build a home which is in complete isolation from the external world. The creature is seen to be huge enough to fit in the tunnels constructed and this becomes the home of the burrower. The main aim for the creature building the tunnels was to live in its own solitary confinement without any external interference from the outside world.This is achieved and the burrower even builds places to store the surplus food to maintain his during his stay in the tunnels. The burrower is seen to struggle to ensure that he gets away from the external environment and gets his privacy in the tunnels underground. In order for a person to get his or her privacy the only options available are to go underground or build a dwelling up high in the mountains. In Franz’s book the burrower who is an unknown creature prefers to go underground in order to achieve his privacy and this he accomplishes this by building huge tunnels underground. To live in complete isolation is seen to be a difficult task and as we see the burrower takes much of his life digging the tunnels to stay away from other intruders. The burrower maintains that the most wonderful thing about the burrow is the silence. The creature knows that the complete isolation can be intruded at any time. He maintains that at the time he can scroll through the passages and hear nothing other than the small sounds created by the tiny creatures which to him this is an intrusion to his complete isolation. To maintain his complete isolation he quickly uses his jaws and stops the small creatures from interfering with his sole existence in the well built tunnels. The burrower kills to make sure that he is the only being that exists in the underworld. This is to ensure that he exists in complete isolation from others and it is not easy.

The burrower enjoys his freedom but recognises the fact that there may be external intruders who can come at any time. This is seen when he finishes digging his burrow and due to fear of external intrusion he keeps the burrow under surveillance and also digs another entrance. This is to secure himself from external interference which can deny him his sole life in his underground dwelling. This shows that any individual activity is caught up with the freedom of at least one other human being. This is because as much as a person can build a very safe and secure house to stay in, he suffers from the fact that he can be attacked at any time and his privacy interfered with and this is why the burrower keeps surveillance to ensure that he is safe from external interference. This leads us to the notion that in order to be honest and self-consistent about one’s freedom we must recognise the freedom of others. This is because we can not be able to live in complete isolation and hence we must recognise that there are other people living amongst us and we should as well respect their freedom. The burrower is seen to recognise that there are other small creatures living in the underworld dwellings but does not respect their freedom. Soon after finding them, he deprives them their freedom by using his jaws and killing them. This can not be achievable in the current human situation in which humans deprive others their lives so that they can live comfortably in their private lives. The recognition of other people’s freedom and respect for their existence can not be neglected and thus a person can not be able to live with complete isolation from others. We require other people to exist and even the burrower did not just start to independently exist but must have been born or found its way into this world through another creature like it. Absolute isolation is unachievable.

The self isolating individual ends up being un-free in the long run. Frank narrates that the burrower soon after obtaining his isolation started to hear sounds in the tunnels. This becomes a nuisance and disturbs him and starts to investigate the source of the noise. He starts to exhibit paranoia and his burrow becomes untidy as he digs experimental trenches as a way of finding the intruders causing the noise. This deprives him his freedom since he must complete the task of finding the source of noise and he becomes restless. The noise continues for a while and he concludes that the noise was from a water pipe. This source of noise could have been imaginary and the conclusion that the noise was from a water pipe is seen to be incorrect. The burrower due to being unsettled later on believes that the noise was from a creature which was bigger and more powerful than him. This makes him live in agony and grief and his freedom now in completely gone since he now lives with the belief that he may be attacked by this more powerful creature. This makes the burrower to stop eating and this is seen to be a self inflicted punishment. The burrower lives in a constant state of fear and the narrator determines that it is easier to surrender to the unseen predator than to continue with an anxious existence. The freedom of the burrower is now taken away due to the fear that there is another powerful creature that exists.

The burrower could have lived a good life if he had recognised the existence of other creatures and respected them. He could have been “something” and as Jean Paul puts it in his book “Being and Nothingness”, someone cannot be something without the recognition of another person. He says that he can not prove the existence of others and there could be consciousness without others. The simple reasoning of proving that other people exist is by the fact that you know that you exist. By having grounds of saying that you exist then the same grounds can be used to validate my existence. This shows that existence with complete isolation from others is difficult. Who we are is reflected from what other people see in us for who we really are. This means that our characters as seen by other people and their interpretation and recognition of our actions as depicted with their actions and attitude towards us represent who we really are. Living in a complete isolated place can lead in a person not knowing who he or she really is since there is no person to depict their characteristics which define our real selves. The existence of another person makes one to look at him/herself as an object and this makes one to see his/her world as it appears to the other person. This is recognition of the existence of people as subjects. The actions that one person does implicate not only implicate not only at least one other, but in a sense every other human being. The existence of other human beings allows us to understand ourselves even better since they can easily judge us as well as we can judge them. This is a basis of understanding ourselves better with the help of others. This leads us to the unavoidable conclusion that it is impossible to exist in total isolation from others. We need them as well as they need us and Franz and Sartre seem to agree in this.

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