In chapter six, K’s uncle comes down from the country to visit K. K continues to disregard the significance of his current situation, and infuriates his uncle, who drags him to see his old lawyer friend. In an interesting turn of events, the chief clerk is currently with the old lawyer, yet K ignores him. K refuses to yield to his situation, his desire to maintain control further worsening his situation. More than that, K ignores the Chief Clerk, wasting much of his time as he flirts with the lawyer’s nurse Leni. It is interesting to note that K is somewhat of a chick magnet, with women seemingly flocking towards him on multiple occasions throughout the novel. K himself is unsure of the reason behind Leni’s intense attraction towards him, but does nothing to stop the flirting, much to the chagrin of his uncle and the Chief Clerk, who are still waiting for K in the other room. Eventually, through K’s own pride and entirely self centered view of the world, he likely puts himself in far worse favor with the Chief Clerk, an act that may cost him later in the novel.
Since the fourth chapter of The Trial was relatively short, I figured I would couple that reaction with my reaction to chapter five. The Trial takes on an episodic structure, with each chapter reading like a new, and mostly random glimpse into K’s life within the court system. Chapter four segues from the occurrences of the last two chapters, focusing again on K’s relationship with Fraulein Burstner. His inability to reconnect with Burstner, and the negative perception of the Captain and Fraulein Montag, reveal that K is constantly being judged, and not just in the courthouse. All of K’s personal relationships continue to fade as he falls deeper into the justice system’s clutches.
The fifth chapter reads like a rather dark and twisted vignette that centers on K witnessing a horrific act. While walking through the courthouse, K opens a door, only to stumble upon the warders from the opening of the novel at the mercy of the Whipper. K is then horrified to learn that he is responsible for the warders’ brutal punishment, his accounts of their poor behavior sentencing them to a lashing. K pleads with the Whipper to spare the men, but the Whipper remains steadfast, and K is forced to leave the room over the anguished cries of one of the warders. The courthouse continues to assault K’s sanity; piling guilt over the stress K already grapples with. Like in the earlier chapters, K feels claustrophobic inside the building, and immediately runs to get fresh air after witnessing the horrific events. K’s mental state is deteriorating, the omniscient and all-powerful courthouse suffocating him with each moment.
The Trial was my first Kafka novel, and as such, I had little to compare it to. However, now that I have read a few of Kafka’s other stories, it seems like a good time to compare The Trial to some of Kafka’s other works, in particular, The Metamorphosis. One might immediately assume that based on the subject matter of the two stories, The Metamorphosis is far more surreal than The Trial. I found it funny, though, that The Trial was actually the more fantastical of the two stories, with K’s numerous adventures being consistently stranger than the majority of the events in The Metamorphosis. Both characters find themselves addressing foreign circumstances that threaten their respective positions within society. K, a successful and controlling man, is suddenly thrust into circumstances he cannot influence. Gregor, a man obsessed with work and money, wakes up to find himself in circumstances that destroy the life he has so carefully built up. It is also interesting to note that just as K has no clue as to why he has been put on trial, Gregor is similarly unaware of the events that have led to his predicament. Yet, unlike Gregor, who makes no attempt to unravel the truth behind his predicament, K constantly lashes out against society in an attempt to find the truth, and in doing so, ends up in an increasingly worse position. While The Trial and The Metamorphosis have their respective similarities and differences in comparison to each other, both stories possess an undeniably Kafkaesque style.