The Grim Realities in “The Trial” by Franz Kafka

The Trial by Franz Kafka

We can almost instantly assume that Kafka’s The Trial was about the crooked and paradoxical ‘injustice of the justice system’ upon reading its first couple of pages. First published in 1925, it is astounding for one to create a complex literature in a span of a year.

The Trial by Franz Kafka

Apart from the succinct title, the plot and mood was set from the very first passage in the novel:

“Someone must have been telling lies about Joseph K., for without having done anything wrong he was arrested one fine morning.” It was brief.  Straightforward. Compelling. Intriguing.”

And as the story progresses in various vicious directions, K.’s disturbing trial revealed something utterly familiar (and unsurprising): justice is an impossible dream. Just as absolute acquittal for K., who is an innocent man to begin with, is a senseless idea to pursue. The inaccessibility of the Court and the Law describes the absurdity of a system in which one will never know if he is doing something wrong or write, and when he does, will never find out what it is. You are being watched and you can get arrested out of the blue. It seems like Orwell’s 1984; with a fake filter that makes you perceive you have “freedom.”

The turning point for me was when K. met a priest, who turns out to belong to the Court as a prison chaplain, and told him a story about a man and a doorkeeper.

“It is not necessary to accept everything as true, one must only accept it as necessary.” To which K. replied, “It turns lying into a universal principle.”

And upon his execution, this biting realization hits home:

“… the important thing was that he suddenly realized the futility of resistance. There would be nothing heroic in it were he to resist, to make difficulties for his companions, to snatch at the last appearance of life by struggling.”

In the end, he stated that “logic is doubtless unshakeable, but it cannot withstand a man who wants to go on living.” But the truth is, in a world like that of K.’s, the will to live won’t be enough.

To cut the chase, this story does not end well. Forget about the resolve that you wait for in reading fiction. What it does, however, is paint a poignant, vivid, and symbolic picture of the reality of man-made law. Our protagonist did not survive, but his demise opens a potential realm of liberation. It teaches a lesson on survival from the bumps and crevices that make up the broken system. Your thoughts are your own, and no one can persecute what they cannot hold on to.

The Trial by Franz Kafka

Like it? Share this post so your friends can also rekindle (or get introduced to) one of the great works of Franz Kafka! Thank you for reading. (: Here’s a virtual donut as a token of my appreciation:

Share a post, win a friend (me), and a virtual donut (friendship bracelets are so 90s).
Share a post, win a friend (me), and a virtual donut (friendship bracelets are so 1990s). *fistbump*


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