The Trial by Franz Kafka
Someone must have slandered Josef K., for one morning, without having done anything wrong, he was arrested. – Franz Kafka
Frau Grubach was his landlady. There was a policeman at the door. K didn’t know who he was. There were at least two of them. K wanted the visitors to introduce themselves. One of the man said ‘You can’t leave, you’re being held. We weren’t sent to tell you why….’ There was another guy called Franz in the room. They promised to return his clothes to him if the case turned out well. The trial would last for days. K wanted to gain clarity on the situation as soon as possible. In their world, there were statutes and universal peace. He thought that his colleagues were playing a prank on him. He wanted to play along with the joke. Now, he wanted to look for his identification papers. Grubach seemed embarrassed by K. She was not allowed to enter the room. The guards admitted that they could not help him as they were lowly employees. Their department is attracted by guilt. You can’t claim innocence if you don’t know the law. K was told to wait in his room and to be ready. K realized that he needed an excuse for not showing up to work at a bank that day. It would have been irrational to commit suicide even though he was alone in the room. The inspector wanted to see him. K had to wear a black coat. The inspector started speaking to him. K admitted he was surprised at the outcome of events today. He doubted that they were real officials and didn’t think his arrest for legitimate. There is no need to keep being obsessed with being innocent as it spoils the impression you make. It is wise to say less. K. was agitated and wanted to call his friend, the public prosecutor. There was an old couple who was witnessing events from afar. The inspector said being under arrest wouldn’t have to change how his life proceedings were or affect his job in the bank. It turned out that the three guards brought three bank clerks to accompany him to work. They were Wooden, Kullich and Kaminer.
I can at least give you some advice: think less about us and what’s going to happen to you, and instead think more about yourself. – The Inspector
K wanted to go home straight from work. The three clerks were acting normal and didn’t seem affected by the morning events. Someone who introduced himself as the caretaker’s son talked to him at his building. K spoke to Frau Grubach now. She admitted the guards told her some stuff but nothing bad. It was like a scholarly arrest which he did not understand. K didn’t think the arrest to be anything much. At work, there would be no surprises because he was always prepared. He preferred the arrest to have happened at work. The house was in order and nobody would know about the morning’s events. K wanted to find out more about Fraulein Burstner and wait for her to return home from theatre. K was irritated that he had to wait for her arrival that night. K wanted to speak to her after she returned home at 1130pm. She invited him to her room. K apologized for messing up her room in the day. Burstner realized the photos were messed up. They talked about his commission of inquiry. She would take on the job as a secretary in a law firm and wanted to know more about court proceedings. K wanted her to help him. She was disappointed that K didn’t know what the trial was about. K moved the stand in attempts to prove that something happened during the day. Suddenly, someone was knocking at their room door. She was still okay with K’s intrusions and was not mad at him. K suddenly kissed Burstner. Grubach’s nephew was the captain and he was in the next room.
Inquiries would now be held. They would be thorough in nature. Sundays were chosen as it would not interfere with work. K had to go to a specific building. The VP invited him to a party where the public prosecutor was there. He had to skip the appointment as it clashed with the inquiry. He came upon a courtyard. It was confusing as there were many areas that looked the same. The court was attracted to guilt. The rooms were all filled with kids and mothers. He couldn’t find the inquiry room yet. K was led to a small table by a small boy. A man said that K was late by 1hour 5 minutes. K was ordered to step forward. The crowd cheered when K started to speak. The examining magistrate took out a notebook. The audience on the right were laughing but the ones on the left were dead silent. K held up his notebook and proclaimed that he wasn’t afraid. He drew the attention of the crowd by proclaiming that the whole thing was a disgrace. He lamented on how the men treated him. K tried to get the attention of the audience. He criticized the magistrates and inspectors for being corrupt and got the crowd going. There was too much bureaucracy in the government. Suddenly, the washerwoman and another man screamed in the room and had sex. All the people in the audience had badges. It seemed that everyone was an official. They were applauding and it was like a way to test K. K. was stopped by the magistrate from leaving.
I just wanted to draw your attention to the fact that you have today deprived yourself – although you can’t yet have realized it – of the advantage that an interrogation offers to the arrest man in each case. – The Magistrate
He returned the next week, however, there was no session. A woman lived in the courtroom but had to move the furniture out when there was a court session. K was irritated that she interrupted him in the courtroom. He wanted to help her in exchange for being able to read some the books on her table. She complimented the way he looked and K grew slightly suspiciously. K wasn’t convinced that she would be able to help him in this trial even those her husband was a court usher. K. admitted he wasn’t concerned about the outcome of the trial. He believed that the officials were lazy and forgot about his case. He wanted her to inform the magistrate that he would never bribe anyone. She knew the magistrate and he was known to write a lot. In her heart, she knew she had influence over him. The magistrate bought stockings for her. Suddenly, she held K’s hand. Bertold was watching them. He was a student. The woman wanted K to take her away to some faraway land. She had to return to the student. She started kissing the student. The student was impatient and wanted him to leave. K. doubted his credentials and he was upset by it. The student grabbed the woman and went away. He was bringing her to the magistrate and K didn’t manage to stop him. The woman was named Elsa. The woman lied as she was being carried to the magistrate. A sign read ‘Law Court Offices Upstairs’. K. kept thinking he was superior to the judge and had a better office etc. K now met the court usher downstairs. The court usher was irritated that his wife was taken away and wanted to bash the student up. He suggested that K could help him get back at the student. He brought K to the law court offices to have a look. Everyone he saw on the benches were defendants. Another man, when asked why he here, couldn’t manage to answer. He screamed when K squeezed his hand. K begged the usher to follow him. K needed to think of an excuse as to why he was in the law offices. Another woman invited K to sit down now. She started to reassure K that the place was alright and not too stuffy. The court usher was gone and K was feeling surprisingly weak. The man suggested that he be led out of the law offices. Suddenly the man laughed and didn’t follow what he said. The man was the information officer. He had the answer to every question. The woman and the information officer started conversing. K refused to sit down despite being offered by the information officer. K felt seasick and was about to collapse at any moment. It felt strange to feel so weak. Finally, K managed to get out of the law offices after being escorted.
There were groans from the junk room near his office. There were 3 men stooping beneath the low ceiling in the room. They were to be flogged because K complained about them to the examining magistrate. They were the guards Franz and Willem. A man carried a rod. Willem sought pity. The guards were upset as they had to start their careers again. The flogger ordered them to strip. K. offered to bribe the flogger to have the two men released. The flogger refused to be bribed. Franz screamed in pain. The assistants suspected something. K. now left the junk room. As he left the bank, K. realized that Franz’s wife was not waiting for him downstairs. The next day, he entered the junk room and found everything similar to the previous day. He would seek the help of his assistants the next day to clear the junk room.
K’s uncle Karl entered his room. K was anticipating his arrival anyway. His uncle seemed in a rush. His uncle was his former guardian. His uncle asked him whether it was true or not but K couldn’t follow. He knew about his trial from Erna. An assistant at the bank wanted to help K with his trial. However, there was possibly no way to go about doing it. Erna pleaded Uncle to help K on his case. K. forgot about Erna for a while now. The calmer K. was, the safer he thought he would be. The uncle wondered it had something to do with his job at the bank. A young administrator listened to instructions from K. K. didn’t want to reveal anything about the trial to the other bank staff. It was not a trial before the normal court. Uncle was surprised that K. didn’t write to him earlier about it. K. didn’t think he could leave the country and visit Uncle next time. Uncle was unhappy at the indifference at how K. treated the trial. He was afraid that K. would be damaged by his indifference. He emphasized the importance of starting now. The plan was to see Huld, the lawyer. They knocked on Huld’s door. A man announced that Huld was ill. It was his heart acting up. Uncle and Huld started speaking now. Leni was the young girl taking care of Huld. Leni was angry and didn’t want Huld to be bothered with personal matters. Finally, Uncle introduced K. to Huld. Leni took her leave after approval from Huld. The lawyer knew about the trial from his counterparts. It turned out that the Chief Clerk of the Court was hiding in the room as well. A sound of broken china could be heard. Then all of a sudden, the nurse held his hand. She threw a plate to lure him out. She directed him to the lawyer’s study. She commented that everyone was vain. Her advice for K. was not be too stubborn and to confess at the first opportunity. It was the only way to escape. She laid on his lap now and Leni couldn’t help K. if he didn’t confess. Elsa was K.’s sweetheart. However, K. kissed Leni and Leni exclaimed that K had traded Elsa for her. ‘Now you belong to me.’ Leni. His uncle spotted K. and furious for his flirtatious behavior as it might ruin his chances in court. The chief clerk left first. His uncle was pissed at K.’s irresponsible behavior.
K was working on an important project. He contemplated a written defense. K. didn’t have a good impression of the lawyer. The lawyer didn’t ask enough questions. In truth, the first petition would usually be lost. There are no court-recognized lawyers. The condition of their officers were poor. Defense lawyers are usually not allowed in the courtroom. The most valuable defense are through the lawyer’s personal contacts. Lawyers usually bribe each other for information. There were officials who met K. and discussed about the case. Lower ranked court officials can barely follow the higher court officials. Lawyers are very busy people. The defendants often think of improving court processes, which is a waste of time. The court system is full of red tape and that everything is linked with one another. It was very hard to respect the lawyers as there were very little guidelines. It is ironic that those trials where not many hours were spent could work in the defendant’s favor. There are trials off course that may turn out well too. Now, the defendant could no longer reach the lawyer easily. K. tried to win over the chief clerk. Leni often came to visit. The lawyer assigned staff at this sort of cases. The first petition had not been released yet. K. wanted to intervene personally in the case. The trial became part of his life even since his uncle came to visit. There was no guilt. The key was not to express guilt in any way. K. wanted a petition to gather others’ views. Despite his efforts, K. always felt tired after work. K. wanted to write it without stopping. K. started daydreaming for 2 hours. He met a man who was a manufacturer along the way. The guy selling pencils also closed for a while. K’s vice president came to visit his friend. The manufacturer would also follow up with the other divisions. Something was troubling K as he felt uneasy. K would take charge of his own defense. K is a very down-to-earth guy. The manufacturer was willing to offer help to the convict. Titorelli, the painter, led a very fulfilling life. 3 gentlemen were waiting to see K. K. invited them in. The vice president was searching K.’s room for a contract. This made K were angry. K. drove to meet a painter. The place was extremely filthy. The painter lived high in an attic. K. bumped into a few young girls along the way. K. finally met the painter with the weird young girls’ help. Titorelli hated the young girls as they were generally annoying in nature. K. handed the manufacturer’s letter and gave it to the painter. It seemed initially that K was tricked when the painter asked him whether he wanted a portrait photo. The painter painted Justice and the goddess of Victory in one. According to him, the painter was instructed to paint it. It was a picture of a low judge sitting in a throne like a boss. The painter did not reveal the name of the judge. The painter knew that K. engaged in small chat first but wanted to know more about his case. He was a confidant of the court. In turns out that the painter was a powerful guy. The muggy atmosphere made breathing difficult. K. admitted he was innocent. The jury will never sway on their decision. The little girls interrupted him and he was angry. It turns out that the little girls belong to the court too. The court was impervious to proof brought before the court. However, they might be open to evidence outside of the court like where K was. Personal contacts had a big part to play. His dad was a court painter too. That is why he was so adapt at painting judges. There were 3 types of acquittal: actual acquittal, apparent acquittal and protraction. For the first one, relying on innocence was enough and K did not need anyone’s help. From his experience, there were no actual acquittals but many cases of influence. Actual acquittals might have happened in the past, but they can’t be proved and judges do not have access to them. K. finally removed the jacket due to the heat. For apparent acquittal, the painter would write a certification of innocence and issue them to the judges. The judges might or might not sign on the certification though. Such an acquittal is only a temporary release as the highest court has the ultimate say and the painter could not help K on that. In an actual acquittal, everything is destroyed. For apparent acquittal, the court documents will still be in circulation. It is also possible for a free man to go home and then get arrested again the next day. Protraction is keeping the trial at the lowest stage constantly. This method involves constant contact with the relevant judge and to maintain vigilance. The downside is that inquiries and interrogation must happen at relevant intervals. Both methods prevent the accused from being convicted. But if you try, you will never get an actual acquittal. The painter sold K. 3 paintings on landscape. K. carried the paintings back to his bank and locked them up.
The second acquittal isn’t final either. The second acquittal is followed by a third arrest, the third acquittal by a fourth arrest, and so on. That’s inherent in the very concept of apparent acquittal. – The Painter
K withdrew his case from the lawyer. It affected his work in his office and drained K. mentally. K paid his lawyer a visit. He came upon a man with a full beard and with a candle in his hand. He was also a client of the lawyer, Huld. His name was Block, Block the merchant. They started talking about a photo of the judge on the wall. Block brought him to the kitchen. Leni was cooking. K. suggested that Leni might be Block’s mistress. Leni started to flirt with K. The lawyer was ill but K. still wanted to see him. K. started talking down on Block. K. contemplated discussing the case with Leni. Block was on trial for almost 5 years now. Block admitted he had 5 lawyers besides Huld. It was not permitted at that time. Block had channeled a lot of money to fight the case and even sacrificed his business. Block knew a bit of K’s case and the fact that he was a defendant. Some of the court officials were superstitious in nature. The courts are meticulous in nature. In their world, independent action was useless. His first lawyer was still preparing the first petition after so long. His petitions were all useless anyway. It was not possible to request for a date for the trial. There were shysters, petty lawyers and great lawyers. It was almost impossible to contact great lawyers. Leni appeared after delivering soup to the lawyer. To get immediate results, Block went to the shysters. K. learnt that the merchant often slept in the office. K. secret’s was out. He was going to dismiss the lawyer. K. went to the lawyer immediately. Leni wanted to make her advances again. It turns out that she liked most defendants. K. rarely paid much attention to the case at all. Strangely, the lawyer was unwilling to let him go after sharing so much with K. The lawyer only accepts cases which he thinks are interesting. Block was invited into the room now. Block was flustered at K.’s behavior. Block was an obedient and decent man but was mocked at by Huld.
A business associate was visiting the bank. The trial always weighed on K.’s mind. K.’s attendance was exemplary and was anxious about missing work. The meeting was warm. It was difficult to follow what the Italian was saying due to the fast rate of speech. The Italian wanted to visit the cathedral. The place was deserted. He came upon a sculpture of a knight. A sexton was calling out to K. now. K. was still waiting for the Italian to arrive. The priest also appeared and was about to give a sermon. K. slowly moved away. The priest cried out ‘Josef K.!’ K. turned and walked towards him. The priest was expecting him and brought K. here. He was actually the prison chaplain. The priest warned him that the trial was going badly. K.’s guilt was assumed to be proved. The priest commented that K. sought too much outside help from women. K and the priest discuss a court parable.
You don’t need to accept everything as true, you only have to accept is as necessary. – The Priest
It was the eve of K’s 33th birthday. Two gentlemen entered his lodging. They gripped his arms and started walking. They came to a square with flower beds. Suddenly K. refused to walk anymore. K. thought he caught a glimpse of Burstner. K. reminded himself that he needed to stay calm. Keep the mind calm and analytical. The three of them crossed a bridge. They were soon out of the city. They stopped when they were at a quarry. One of them removed K’s shirt. One man drew a long butcher knife and tested it. The man thrust the knife into his heart and turned it there twice. K’s last words were ‘Like a Dog!’
Who was it? A friend? A good person? Someone who cared? Someone who wanted to help? Was it just one person? Was it everyone? Was there still help? Where there objections that had been forgotten? Of course there were. Logic is no doubt unshakable, but it can’t withstand a person who wants to live. Where was the judge he’d never seen? Where was the high court he’d never reached? – K