Josephine, the Songstress or: The Mouse People Notes from Stories of Franz Kafka

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Stories of Franz Kafka Josephine, the Songstress or: The Mouse People

Josephine is a rarity among the mouse people, for she has the innate ability to sing. She can not only sing, but she can sing beautifully, helping all the mouse people continue with their hardworking lives. Some of the mouse people dislike her and do not believe she is truly singing, while others gather round to listen to her, use her feeble vocal chords to their utmost strength, and treasure her femininity. Some of the mouse people wonder if Josephine is truly singing, for they wonder if mice can sing or if they simply just pipe? Depending on the position facing Josephine, her music sounds like great piping and sometimes it sounds like true music. At times, she pouts and stammers as a woman, bringing chaos and chatter amongst the people; yet, when she sings, she brings a hush to the crowd, and everyone realizes that she is special. They must protect their dear Josephine, for she is one of a kind.

Topic Tracking: Family 11

"Sometimes I have the impression that our people sees its relationship with Josephine rather like this: that she, this fragile, vulnerable, somehow distinguished creature, in her opinion distinguished by her song, has been entrusted to us and that we must look after her; the reason for this is not clear to anyone, only the fact seems to be established. But what has been entrusted to one's care one does not laugh at; to do so would be a beach of duty; the utmost spite that the most spiteful amongst us can vent on Josephine is when they sometimes say: 'When we see Josephine it is no laughing matter.'" Josephine, pg. 106-107

The mouse people see themselves as children and the elderly at the same time. Both under-appreciating music and living their lives in a static fashion. They overindulge and under-indulge and cannot appreciate true music. They pipe a little, but do not see it as anything except piping. All of this is true, save Josephine. Her music is the only sound that is permissive among the mouse people, for they do like it and listen to it.

As time progresses, people feel differently about Josephine and her music, thinking her pompous, thinking her lazy, and simultaneously thinking her a gift to the community. She rarely does her work, yet still gets her daily ration of food. When she injures herself barely, she works even less. No other mouse would be tolerated in the community.

Eventually, Josephine is missing; nobody can find her and everyone misses her music, her piping, and her singing. Yet, after enough time searching, she is lost, and gone forever. Their lives continue as normal.

Topic Tracking: Solitude 9

"So perhaps we shall not miss so very much after all, while Josephine, for her part, delivered from earthly afflictions, which however to her mind are the privilege of chosen spirits, will happily lose herself in the countless throng of the heroes of our people, and soon, since we pursue no history, be accorded the heightened deliverance of being forgotten along with all her brethren." Josephine, pg. 116

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