Stories of Franz Kafka A Little Woman
The narrator of the short story opens by describing a young woman in exceptional detail and of moderate beauty and tightly wound anxiety. She has perfect anatomical hands, dirty blonde hair, puts her clothes together nicely, and expresses herself exactly as a young woman should do so. One problem exists between the narrator and this little woman. She believes he annoys her at every turn, every motion, every disturbance, and every utterance. He cannot understand such frustration, for he believes they are merely strangers. Nonetheless, her existence would improve greatly if he were to cease existence...or at least cease communication with her altogether.
"Now this little woman is highly dissatisfied with me, she always has some fault to find with me, I am always doing her an injustice, I annoy her at every turn; if it were possible to divide up one's life into the smallest of its parts and judge each part separately, there is no doubt that she would find every smallest part of my own life offensive. I have often wondered why it is that I should offend her so; it may be that everything about me runs counter to her aesthetic feelings, her sense of justice, her habits, her traditions, her hopes - such mutually incompatible natures do exist, but why does this cause her so much pain?" A Little Woman, pg. 185
The hatred and annoyance continues and spreads into their lives. Although the narrator persists on stating their relationship as strangers, the little woman's frustration grows to cover every aspect of her life. Her family cannot understand such problems, for they know not where to turn to help her. Nothing seems to annoy her except the narrator. Everyone around them is innocent to her ways, and the anxiety spreads into her appearance and work habit. The only reasonable explanation to her hatred and pure anger towards the narrator would rest in a fallen relationship or broken heart; however, the two remain strangers and have never known one another. The narrator claims that the little woman is strong and resilient and possesses qualities that will allow her to pull herself out of such a dangerous emotional state just as easily as she found herself within it.
The narrator, contemplating the situation deeper, wonders what will help this little woman with her obsession of frustration with him. He thinks that perhaps his own suicide might be her only salvation. And, upon further thought, he brings the problem up with a friend. The friend tells him not to speak of it with anyone at all, for it may be perceived as something more than it actually is. So, the narrator continues to live his life, keeping the mattered concealed as much as possible, knowing that the woman lives on continually in rage.