Take a story's temperature by studying its tone. Is it hopeful? Cynical? Snarky? Playful?
Nothing and no one is safe from the novel's ironic tone, which casts a satiric eye on everything the main character does and the ludicrous machinations of the system in which he is entrapped. For example, while K. thinks that his evening with Fraülein Bürstner has ended well, the narrator shows us how reluctantly Fraülein Bürstner accepted his embraces. K.'s smile of satisfaction as he drifts off to sleep is an ironic touch that shows how mystified he can be, particularly when it comes to women.