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The Trial

The Trial

by Franz Kafka

Justice and Judgment Quotes

How we cite our quotes:

Quote #1

After all, our department, as far as I know, and I know only the lowest level, doesn't seek out guilt among the general population, but, as the Law states, is attracted by guilt and has to send us guards out. That's the Law. What mistake could there be? (1.1)

In the guards' explanation, we get a description of the Law that emphasizes its unknowability and infallibility at the same time. We can't know why the Law is "attracted" to certain parties, but at the same time, the Law is always right and always assigns guilt to the right party, even if we don't know why.

Quote #2

[Y]ou've misunderstood me; you're under arrest, certainly, but that's not meant to keep you from carrying on your profession. Nor are you to be hindered in the course of your ordinary life. (1.8)

The inspector states another paradox of the courts. Its power is so complete that it doesn't have to incarcerate Josef K. That is, because its power extends over all of human existence, all human existence is, in effect, a prison. Thus Josef K. experiences the feelings of imprisonment without actually being in a prison. Scary, no?

Quote #3

[I]t's in the nature of this judicial system that one is condemned not only in innocence but also in ignorance. (4.1)

K.'s insight into the workings of the court here doesn't really help him in the end. Even though he knows that he's already condemned and that he will never know why at this early point in the novel, he continues to struggle to defend his case.

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