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In the Penal Colony

In the Penal Colony


by Franz Kafka

Analysis: Narrator Point of View

Who is the narrator, can she or he read minds, and, more importantly, can we trust her or him?

Third Person (Limited Omniscient)

The narration in the story is third person, but definitely centered on, and in, the explorer. The explorer's thoughts and feelings are described by the narrator, while the other characters are described from the outside, as they "look" or "seem."

A certain distance is maintained between the explorer and the narrator, however, in that the narrator almost never allows the explorer to think in the first-person – it's always "he thought." And the narrator's continual understatement distances us from the explorer's emotions (see "Writing Style"). Although, it might just be that the explorer doesn't really have much in the way of emotions himself. In fact, a lot of the time it's probably that.

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