by Franz Kafka
Air, or, would somebody please open a window?
Symbolism, Imagery, Allegory
One of the defining features of the court is its stuffy, muggy, suffocating air. While court officials seem to do just fine in the close atmosphere of the court offices, the air seems to have a debilitating effect on the defendants, particularly on K., who nearly faints. Paradoxically, air, which we take for granted as an all-pervasive, weightless, and convenient source of oxygen, is experienced as a crushing physical burden. The court office air is thus a symbol of the court system's omnipresent yet intangible influence on all aspects of K.'s life.