In the Penal Colony
by Franz Kafka
In the Penal Colony Primitiveness Quotes
How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Paragraph). We used Willa and Edwin Muir's translation.
So this was revenge. Although he himself had not suffered to the end, he was to be revenged to the end. A broad, silent grin now appeared on his face and stayed there all the rest of the time. (43)
We leave it up to you to decide whether the condemned man's obvious and rather sadistic desire for seeing the officer suffer makes him more human. Is revenge a uniquely human desire? Or does it instead just bring out all the more his beastliness and brutality?
This phenomenon made the condemned man completely forget the explorer's command, the cogwheels fascinated him, he was always trying to catch one and at the same time urging the soldier to help but always drew back his hand in alarm, for another wheel always came hopping along which, at least on its first advance, scared him off. (45)
This is a grimly comic moment in the midst of catastrophe. The apparatus is going to pieces, the officer is being cut to pieces, and the condemned man is off playing with the cogwheels as they fall out of the dying machine. Like a baby, or an animal. Also like a baby or an animal, he's scared off each time a new wheel comes at him, as if he's surprised by it and doesn't get what's going on.