The Church and State: K’s Interaction with the Priest


I found K’s interaction with the priest was very interesting, especially near the end of their conversation when the priest says that he, a religious official, belongs to the court, a secular entity (Kafka, 224).

The priest represents multiple versions of “the Law”, the religious law as well as the standard social law in which K finds himself a prisoner of during his trial. The two men discuss law within the space of the cathedral, with the priest elevated and under an intense light whilst K remains in shadow. K looks to this man for guidance, perhaps of a different nature in regards to his situation and the priest proceeds to give him the analogy of the doorman. At the end of their conversation, the priest reiterates that he is the prison chaplain and is still a part of the system that is imprisoning K.

Indeed, the whole cathedral scene resembles a courtroom, with the chaplain standing in the pulpit and addressing K with a certain authority that is reminiscent of a court judge sitting on the Bench. The priest gives K advice on the law and how his case is going as a lawyer would.

I found this scene interesting because there is always the stress in government about the separation of Church and State yet, as we see with this interaction between K and a member of the clergy, members of the Church are still subject to secular law, that the Law is permeating in all walks of life and like the law, the priest shows K the way out when he’s done with him in a rather cold manner despite the personal conversation that the two had. It is here that he is still a servant of the court as the prison chaplain and as such, he will leave K to his fate as their time is now at an end.

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