Tuesday, July 23, 2013

My Final Thoughts on The Trial by Franz Kafka

The Trial by Franz Kafka
Published 1924

Grammar Stage: What is the most important event in which the main character changes? 

The moment we meet the main character, Josef K., he is arrested, so there is not much to know about him before hand.  After his arrest, he behaves slightly guilty of something we do not know and will never know; but he is working to do whatever he can to beat the system, which is quite shady and chaotic as well as incomprehensible.  By the end of the story, K. learns that he cannot beat the Law, and he must meet his destiny and accept the result of the end of his trial, which is his judgment, and this is where the reader understands that K. has given up and changes completely.

Logic Stage: What does the main character want, and what does he do to get it? 

K. wants the truth.  He gets the truth at the end of his fate, although it is not the end result he had searched for.  And the truth is that he must accept that there is no truth – only another’s version of the truth which is still as important.  Like the priest told K.: “…you don’t have to consider everything true, you just have to consider it necessary.  Lies are made into a universal system.” 

 (BTW: I do not assent to this, I am just laying it out as I think the author wants us to think it is.)

Rhetoric Stage: What is the author trying to tell us? 

This was challenging: on the one hand I saw the religious groundwork at the very end with references to Scripture, the doorkeeper, and the Law being “divine” because it is “unseen”; hence maybe the author questions divine Truth because it is unseen, too.  But I also understand this story being a reference to political government if you take into account how inept bureaucracy can be.  But then there is the argument that the human condition is full of shame and guilt, and maybe K.’s guilt was that he was human.  He was not exactly a moral, upright individual.  Possibly, Kafka understood that the human condition is naturally corrupt and guilty of sin.  Frankly, I kept wondering why other characters were not just as guilty as K. was.

Overall, I liked The Trial because it was thought provoking as far as trying to understand the message, but it was not a happy ending.  So if you are looking for a happy read, steer clear of The Trial, but if you want to be challenged by ideas, this may be the right one.


Tonia said...

Good summation of the book. I'm glad this one is behind me now and it's time to move on.

Ruth said...

Thanks, Tonia. I agree, but we still have 1984 ahead of us, and that one is just as depressing.

Joseph said...

Yes a challenging and intriguing story. I'm with you. I don't espouse Kafka's worldview, but on some aspects I think he has an astute insight on the human condition.