Study Guide

Huld in The Trial

By Franz Kafka


If your defense lawyer always meets with you in his bedroom, chances are he's probably not the man you want defending you from imminent execution. Sadly, K. is so wrapped up in Leni's charms that it takes him some time to wriggle out of Huld's control.

Huld's power over his clients can partly be attributed to the fact that he's able to convince them that common sense is incompatible with the world of the courts. Common sense says a bedridden lawyer is not the best man for the job; Huld says no, actually, he is the best man for the job because he's got personal connections in the court, and presto change-o – out of a dark corner of his bedroom pops out the supposedly influential Chief Clerk. Common sense says a good lawyer helps the defendant work toward a prompt acquittal; Huld explains to K. that trials are a long, drawn-out process. Certainly Huld has yet to complete the first petition – another red flag – but a lawyer's true function is to work outside the courts, influencing judges and other court officials by chatting them up when the opportunity arises.

Perhaps it is because K. continues to be skeptical of Huld's worth that Huld's treatment of K. is markedly different from his treatment of Block, his other client. While Huld flatters K. and humors K.'s questions with an almost fatherly condescension, Huld is frankly abusive toward Block. Huld's very words make Block quake and shudder as if Huld were actually physically threatening him, which is doubly ludicrous given that Huld is bedridden. K.'s insight into Huld's duplicity doesn't really do much for his case, however, because, shady as Huld is, Huld is truthful about the way the court works in all of its illogicality.

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