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Second Interpretation Exercise, English 361
IN-DEPTH ANALYSIS OF KAFKA
Due Sunday, November 12, 2017.
DIRECTIONS: As in the Proust exercise, read the passage shown below several times, then analyze its
most striking or important features. Topics might include, but are not limited to, the themes Kafka
develops in the passage or his narrative method, his depiction of character, the use of dialogue or
figurative language, the presence and function of surreal elements, and so on.
Do not attempt to cover everything that you notice. Instead, you should focus on no more than three
key topics that can be covered in some depth. Be sure that you also indicate how the passage relates
to The Trial. However, at least half of your discussion should refer in detail to the passage itself.
LENGTH OF PAPER: three typed pages, or 1000 words. Use the line numbers given below rather
than direct quotations to refer to long passages. Specific words or phrases should be quoted. Send
the paper, by midnight on Sunday according to the usual flexible timing, as an e-mail attachment, to
.
* * * * *
1
5
10
15
20
24
“These contradictions can be easily explained,” said the painter. “We’re talking about two
different things here, what the Law says, and what I’ve experienced personally; you mustn’t
confuse the two. In the Law, which I’ve never read, mind you, it says of course on the one
hand that an innocent person is to be acquitted; on the other hand it does not say that
judges can be influenced. My own experience, however, has been precisely the opposite. I
know of no actual acquittals but know of many instances of influence. Of course, it’s
possible that in the cases I’m familiar with no one was ever innocent. But doesn’t that seem
unlikely? In all those cases not one single innocent person? Even as a child I listened
closely to my father when he talked about trials at home, and the judges who came to his
atelier discussed the court as well; in our circles no one talked of anything else; from the
moment I was allowed to go to court I attended constantly, heard the crucial stages of
innumerable trials, followed them insofar as they could be followed, and—I must admit—I
never saw a single actual acquittal.” “Not a single acquittal then,” said K. as if speaking to
himself and to his hopes. “That confirms the opinion I’ve already formed of this court. So it
has no real point in that respect either. A single hangman could replace the entire court.”
“You mustn’t generalize,” said the painter, displeased. “I’ve spoken only of my own experience.” “That’s quite enough,” said K., “or have you heard of acquittals in earlier times?”
“Such acquittals are said to have occurred, of course,” said the painter. But that’s extremely
difficult to determine. The final verdicts of the court are not published, and not even the
judges have access to them; thus only legends remain about ancient court cases. These tell
of actual acquittals, of course, even in a majority of cases; you can believe them, but they
can’t be proved true. Nevertheless they shouldn’t be entirely ignored; they surely contain a
certain degree of truth, they are very beautiful; I myself have painted a few pictures based
on such legends. . . .”
(153-54 )
Second Interpretation Exercise, English 361
IN-DEPTH ANALYSIS OF KAFKA
Due Sunday, November 12, 2017.
The book you need is listed below and readings for the pages.
1925 Franz Kafka, THE TRIAL (Schocken, written 1914-15). Breon Mitchell translation!
Notice that Kafka’s novel originated before people had experienced the full impact of World War I
Kafka: The Trial: 3-79 + Fragment: “B’s Friend,” 235-43.
Kafka, 80-139 (to “to devote himself totally to his case for a while.”) + Fragments: “Public Prosecutor,” “To
Elsa,” and “Struggle with the Vice President,” 244-58.
Kafka, 139-198 + Fragment: “The Building,” 259-62.
Kafka, 199-231 + Fragment: “Journey to His Mother,” 263-66 and “Publisher’s Note” and “Translator’s
Preface,” vii-xxvi.
DIRECTIONS: As in the Proust exercise, read the passage shown below several times, then analyze its
most striking or important features. Topics might include, but are not limited to, the themes Kafka
develops in the passage or his narrative method, his depiction of character, the use of dialogue or
figurative language, the presence and function of surreal elements, and so on.
Do not attempt to cover everything that you notice. Instead, you should focus on no more than three
key topics that can be covered in some depth. Be sure that you also indicate how the passage relates
to The Trial. However, at least half of your discussion should refer in detail to the passage itself.
LENGTH OF PAPER: three typed pages, or 1000 words. Use the line numbers given below rather
than direct quotations to refer to long passages. Specific words or phrases should be quoted. Send
the paper, by midnight on Sunday according to the usual flexible timing, as an e-mail attachment, to
.
* * * * *
1
5
“These contradictions can be easily explained,” said the painter. “We’re talking about two
different things here, what the Law says, and what I’ve experienced personally; you mustn’t
confuse the two. In the Law, which I’ve never read, mind you, it says of course on the one
hand that an innocent person is to be acquitted; on the other hand it does not say that
judges can be influenced. My own experience, however, has been precisely the opposite. I
know of no actual acquittals but know of many instances of influence. Of course, it’s
possible that in the cases I’m familiar with no one was ever innocent. But doesn’t that seem
10
15
20
24
unlikely? In all those cases not one single innocent person? Even as a child I listened
closely to my father when he talked about trials at home, and the judges who came to his
atelier discussed the court as well; in our circles no one talked of anything else; from the
moment I was allowed to go to court I attended constantly, heard the crucial stages of
innumerable trials, followed them insofar as they could be followed, and—I must admit—I
never saw a single actual acquittal.” “Not a single acquittal then,” said K. as if speaking to
himself and to his hopes. “That confirms the opinion I’ve already formed of this court. So it
has no real point in that respect either. A single hangman could replace the entire court.”
“You mustn’t generalize,” said the painter, displeased. “I’ve spoken only of my own experience.” “That’s quite enough,” said K., “or have you heard of acquittals in earlier times?”
“Such acquittals are said to have occurred, of course,” said the painter. But that’s extremely
difficult to determine. The final verdicts of the court are not published, and not even the
judges have access to them; thus only legends remain about ancient court cases. These tell
of actual acquittals, of course, even in a majority of cases; you can believe them, but they
can’t be proved true. Nevertheless they shouldn’t be entirely ignored; they surely contain a
certain degree of truth, they are very beautiful; I myself have painted a few pictures based
on such legends. . . .”
(153-54 )

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