Study Guide

The New Commandant in In the Penal Colony

By Franz Kafka

The New Commandant

With the death of the old Commandant, the new Commandant is the one running the show at the penal colony. As with the old Commandant, we only hear about him through the officer. We don't know too much about him, except that he's not such a big fan of the old Commandant's way of doing things, particularly the use of the apparatus. He's hoping the explorer will speak against the apparatus, and enable him to eliminate it once and for all.

What we don't know about the new Commandant are his motives. We know he's opposed to the old traditions, but we don't know why. Is it because he genuinely finds them revolting or barbaric? Does he just want to seem modern, to impress people like the explorer? Or might he just have a grudge against the old Commandant? We don't know. We do know, however, that, like the old Commandant, he has "ladies."

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