Suspicion and Authority in The Trial

The Trial presents a case that keeps both the protagonist and the readers guessing. It inserts a strange situation into an otherwise ordinary life, and the main character is forced to cope with it while he carries out his daily routines. As K. says, he does not view his trial as a joke, but as something that ultimately does not matter to him. This belief is quickly reinforced during the initial inquiry, when he loses faith in the credibility of the bureaucracy. While he first intends to “observe more than speak,” he begins an impromptu speech about the problems of the trial, ignoring the magistrate’s supposed authority (Kafka 43). This shows K.’s confidence in his conclusion: that the trial is nothing but a case of corruption and the targeting of an innocent man. “Given the senselessness of the whole affair, how could the bureaucracy avoid becoming entirely corrupt? It’s impossible, even the highest judge couldn’t manage it, even with himself,” he says on this (Kafka 50).

I can see the connection between Slochower and Kafka’s text. It certainly seems like nobody is giving a clear answer to K., and people actively avoid sharing the truth, whatever that truth may consist of. The general suspicion that K. feels is visible to readers in small ways, such as when he walks to the initial inquiry: “Contrary to his normal habit, he was taking close note of all these surface details, and he paused a while at the entrance to the courtyard” (Kafka 39). This, combined with his later discovery of the badges that each man wears in the courtroom, shows his increasing fear of being observed by higher authorities. Such a fear juxtaposes his assertion that there is no threat behind this unorthodox trial. This might connect to the dueling states of mind that each of us would exhibit in a similar situation: even though we know that the whole situation is ridiculous, we are still threatened by the possibility of being watched.

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