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MonkeyNotes-The Trial by Franz Kafka
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Chapter 5

Summary

This is the scene where the officials who arrested K. are whipped in the Bank Corridor in the lumber-room. K. is shaken by the scene. He sees it twice and then the victims plead with him to intercede. K.'s screaming makes the clerks in the bank anxious. So he tells the clerks to clean up the dirt and the mess.

The warders, Willem and Franz are being whipped after they are stripped. They say that they are punished because K. complains to the Chief Magistrate during the trial. K. also responds saying that he would be glad to see one of the high judges being flogged. He also knows that Franz is lying when he says that his fiancée is waiting outside. K. tries to bribe the whipper. But then K. feels that the whipper would not accept the bribe, as it would interfere with his duties while dealing with the accused. The officials could not harm him anymore.

The next day K. opens the door thinking that the officials would have collapsed. But they are standing in the same situation. It is now that K. lets out a scream.


Notes

This is a sinister, situation, with obnoxious feelings lurking in the background of the incident. If they were dead, K. could do nothing to get rid of the corpses. There are two levels of consciousness here. The world of the court and K.’s everyday world. The relationship between these two worlds is disconnected.

The court's presence is felt suddenly in the orderly routine of everyday life. K.'s orderly world also seems to be based on a world of horror. The opening of the lumber-room door shakes his confidence, which is almost fictitious. The whipper's scene is an image springing from the abyss, shaking man's confidence in life. But an evil seems to be elusive, never defined or clear.

The lumber-room is the setting far away from the business world. That is how life is seen from a different angle. K. is also a link in the evil committed as the whipping is the result of his complaint. Though he tries to avert the punishment he is united with the warders who undergo the punishment. The warders represent man as a creature who is subjected to a ruthless destiny. The court does not stand for justice, but the effects the sinister accidents give rise to are senseless. Symbolically, man seems to be persecuted by an unyielding destiny. Man's legalized existence is threatened. The warders’ suffering is the result of K.'s own complaints. This suffering shakes mankind's self assurance and order, as a result of man's failing. The shrieking is also symbolic of K.'s suffering. K.'s utterance that ‘It is only a dog howling in the yard’ is symbolic. The metaphor of the dog's pathetic existence is carried till the end of the tragedy.

K.'s alternative is to take on the warder's suffering, in a larger sense, the world's suffering. But K. declines to do so. Instead he blames the officials for their guilt. His flight shows that he does not take on responsibility but also that he asserts his rights regarding the life that he is living.

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