Chapter eight of The Trial was particularly interesting, illustrating to the reader what becomes of those who fester in the court system for too long. K arrives at his lawyer’s office prepared to fire him, when he meets a strange frail man named Block. Block has been a victim of the court system for five years, and appears to have become a shell of his former self. K, who has already seen a deterioration of his mental faculties due to the intense pressure and stress of his situation, perhaps sees in this man his inevitable future. In the last chapter, the Court Artist explained to K that it is possible to delay one’s case indefinitely. However, Block’s pitiful being is indicative that this course of action may ultimately be detrimental to one’s well-being, and K begins to wonder if he can endure the suffocating court system for much longer.
Some other instances in the chapter are also worth pointing out. For instance, K’s lawyer states that K is actually treated reasonably well for someone in his situation. K perhaps feels more entitled than he should, and believes he has hit rock bottom. However, when the lawyer proceeds to ridicule Block, it becomes apparent that K’s life could actually grow far worse. The chapter also depicts more interactions with the lawyer’s assistant Leni. This chapter continues the theme that women are typically attracted to K, although his self-confidence was perhaps deflated by the lawyer’s assertion that Leni tends to flirt with all of his clients. As The Trial moves closer to its conclusion, it becomes more evident that K will never regain his freedom, and is ultimately doomed to a tragic fate.
I recently found this interesting article that details a recent push to publish Kafka’s books in a nonlinear, more accurate fashion.
You can read the article here: http://www.nytimes.com/1995/01/04/world/new-work-in-a-word-kafkaesque.html
Chapter seven of The Trial, by far the longest chapter so far, dumped huge amounts of information on the reader, while maintaining some of the common themes of previous chapters. K appears to be mentally deteriorating, the strain of his upcoming trial leading him to self-doubt and introspection. The lawyer, and the court painter K later meets, both know little of the inner workings of the court system. It seems like the only way to evade the court’s grasp is through inaction, or finding loopholes within the judicial system. There appears to be no way to fully escape the court once one becomes entangled in it; at best a person can hope for a temporary relieve through stalling and delay. However, this inaction is wearing greatly upon K, who struggles to maintain mental and emotional stability the longer he is in contact with the mysterious and intimidating court system.
This chapter also features the return of some recurring themes from earlier in the book. The stuffy, cloying nature of law and the court system is again represented at the painter’s house, where K’s struggle to breath steadily intensifies. Additionally, the female obsession with K is once again illustrated, as young girls outside of the painter’s apartment refuse to ignore K, and try to pry into K’s private conservations. More and more, Kafka’s harsh commentary of unaccountable judicial systems come into focus. In the U.S., we are accustomed to a fair system of law, in which Americans are privy to due process and the right to a fair trial. In the world of The Trial, such systems are nonexistent, and defendants’ lives are left to the mercy of a court which refuses to reveal its inner workings.
Kafka has an interesting way of describing K.’s interactions with attractive women. His style of writing typically lends itself to intuitive and insightful description. But the account of his situation with the women in “In the Empty Courtroom, The Student, The Offices” is rather bizarre. After meeting this woman, Kafka quickly initiates an affair. Kafka goes so far as to say that “the examining magistrate would find the bed of the women empty…this woman at the window, this voluptuous, supple, warm body in a dark dress of heavy, coarse, material, belonged to K., and K. alone. Kafka hastily assumes that the woman will abandon all other responsibilities to solely be with K. This unique account can allude to several things. It could simply imply K’s arrogance towards his charismatic nature. This situation could just be another facet of the whimsical tone of The Trial, where a bank clerk is sexy and charming enough to seduce a woman within a matter of minutes. And finally, it could possibly indicate that Kafka envelops a misogynistic viewpoint, where a woman will abandon people that rely and care for her in exchange for a love affair. Either way, the hasty actions of the woman in this particular case are peculiar.