by Franz Kafka
The Trial Society and Class Quotes
How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Chapter.Paragraph). We used Breon Mitchell's translation.
Josef […] you've undergone a total metamorphosis; you've always had such a keen grasp of things, has it deserted you know, of all times? Do you want to lose this trial? Do you know what that means? It means you'll be crossed off. And that all your relatives will be drawn in, or at least dragged through the mud. (6.2)
With his trial, K.'s relationship with what family he has left deteriorates. He forgets his cousin's birthday, and, as this quote from his uncle reveals, K. demonstrates a marked indifference to the effects of the trial on his family.
In the building where the painter lived […] near the wall, there was a gaping hole from which, just as K. approached, a disgusting, steaming yellow fluid poured forth, before which a rat fled into the nearby sewer. (8.20)
Of all the places in the novel, that impoverished slums seem to be the most real. Whereas the novel presents us with generic cathedrals and bank buildings and lodging houses, the slums are presented with great attention to specific, vivid details. Here it seems that the apartment building is actually urinating into the street, a secretion that is so awful that even rats can't stand it. Yuck!
At the bottom of the steps a small child was lying face down on the ground, crying, but it could hardly be heard above the noise coming from a sheet-metal shop beyond the entranceway […] A great sheet of tin hanging on the wall cast a pale shimmer that flowed between two workers, illuminating their faces and aprons. (8.20)
If you want to get all Freudian, you could see the child as a symbol of the way that K. is himself reduced to a child before the court, who is just as indifferent and disapproving of K. as a domineering parent might be. The fact that the child's cries are drowned out by the clamor of the sheet-metal shop, where human beings are reduced to mere "workers," could also be a nice allegory of the way that modern society is indifferent to the individual's needs.