* Site-Outage Notice: Our engineering elves will be tweaking the Shmoop site from Monday, December 22 10:00 PM PST to Tuesday, December 23 5:00 AM PST. The site will be unavailable during this time.
© 2014 Shmoop University, Inc. All rights reserved.
In the Penal Colony

In the Penal Colony

by Franz Kafka

Tradition and Custom Quotes

How we cite our quotes:

Quote #4

[The officer:] "During the old Commandant's lifetime the colony was full of his adherents; his strength of conviction I still have in some measure, but not an atom of his power; consequently, the adherents have skulked out of sight, there are still many of them but none of them will admit it." (22)

It's now quite clear that the officer's tradition is falling apart. What he says raises several questions, though. Do we believe him that there are still many adherents, or is he the only one? Were the "adherents" of the old days, if they've stopped being adherents, ever adherents in the first place? And has anything stepped up to replace the old convictions?

Quote #5

"I didn't want to upset you," he [the officer] said, "I know it is impossible to make those days credible now." (23)

The officer admits there is something mythical-sounding or unbelievable about the days of the old Commandant, as he describes them. This adds more to the somewhat religious aura around the guy. It also raises the question of how much we should believe the officer's descriptions of the past. Are they true, if hard to believe, or hopelessly exaggerated or idealized?

People who Shmooped this also Shmooped...

Noodle's College Search