The Beautiful Room Is Empty Short Essay - Answer Key

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1. What is the premise of "The Beautiful Room is Empty"?

This novel is the story of a young gay man's coming-of-age in 1950s and 1960s America, and in particular of his struggles to both suppress his sexual orientation and establish his career as a writer.

2. What are some of the themes addressed in "The Beautiful Room is Empty"?

While vividly detailing the specific circumstances and manifestations of the narrator's struggle, the narrative's central thematic concerns are universal such as coming of age, the search for self-identity in the face of powerful societal pressure to conform, and the experience of being an outsider.

3. From what written piece is the name of the book taken, and what does it mean?

The book takes its title, and ultimately its central thematic perspective, from the Franz Kafka quote in the prologue with the reference to the beautiful room being empty. Essentially, the quote speaks of an individual's inability to appreciate himself and his life for himself, sacrificing self-awareness and personal integrity in the name of basing attitude and action on the attitude and actions of others.

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