Xu writes in Eating Identities on the topic of food and community—cuisine is an integral part of sustaining ties with one’s culture; the ritual of cooking itself being a bonding agent of social cohesion. “Eating is indeed inseparable from personhood,” Xu writes (4). If food is an agent of humanization, what are the psychological and sociological effects of malnourishment stemming from economic destitution?
Often in Zhang’s Sour Hearts, the characters’ emotional states are reflected in their state of hunger. In “We Love You Crispina”, Christina and her mother’s hunger peak in a vignette of a period of eating out of the trash of local restaurants. Both mother and daughter are overcome with violent illness as the parents apply for dozens of jobs, ultimately leading up to the fateful trip to Atlantic City to grift $40 on a day’s roundtrip incentive (34-38). On the bus ride home, Christina’s mother loses it on her father, in a dramatic expulsion of the infinitely exhausting task of survival in the throes of poverty. Physiological well-being aside, to Xu’s point on food’s relation to community, the absence of food— or the squalid conditions of food provided—impart a devastating psychological reality of alienation and dehumanization among those living in abject poverty. To be deprived of food, of cuisine, of community, is to fundamentally demean the dignity of a person and ensnare them in a state of poverty that extends beyond economic means.
With a retrospective gaze at our previous readings, Zhang’s perspective on hunger brings into sharp relief the space between hunger as a demonstrative act and hunger as a state of abjection, largely demarcated by class. In the works of Kraus and Kafka, starvation is an act motivated by an appetite for something beyond themselves. Starvation was an election, a means ‘consumed’  for the purpose of achieving a different state, be it enlightenment, artistic achievement, or decreation. Conversely, Zhang writes from the perspective of starvation as a subjected state of being. Her characters are rarely hungry for a deliberate purpose—starvation was borne from a lack of means, and symbolic of an appetite for the state from which Kraus and Kafka [’s artist] begin.
Further, if we extend the notion of food as a collectivizing agent, how does the practice of fasting intersect with the social binaries of the individual vs. collective, and the body vs. the mind? Simone Weil championed the notion of elective starvation with the end goal of deconstruction. Per Xu’s writing, particularly in conversation with the theories of Žižek and Anderson, fasting would be an intentional act of severance from the masses. As such, is fasting (albeit in this case, limited to the scope of a handful of Western cultural figures) a uniquely self-modular attempt at transcending the realities of being a member of a larger whole? While the choice to choose hunger is in itself a privilege, is it a more interior self-privileging which motivates a person to attempt this decreation or transcendence?
 Hopefully the ironic choice of words doesn’t convolute my already convoluted point here!