Study Guide

The Trial Chapter 7

By Franz Kafka

Chapter 7

Lawyer / Manufacturer / Painter

  • It's winter now, which seems like a long time given that the story started in the spring. K. is now obsessed with his trial. Dissatisfied with his lawyer, he wonders whether it would be better to write up his own defense. It would include an overview of his life and a thorough defense of every single important occasion in his life.
  • K.'s problem with his lawyer is that Huld doesn't seem to be getting anywhere. Huld keeps telling K. that his first petition is almost finished, but it sounds like it's almost pointless to submit because the first petition gets lost in the court bureaucracy. But, according to Huld, lawyers are still useful because of their personal relationships with judges. But these judges are only lower officials – the judges in the higher courts remain inaccessible to everybody, and nobody seems to know what they do or who they are. But even still, Huld thinks the best thing to do is to go along with the way things are.
  • In short, progress is being made – but not made.
  • The only bright side of K.'s visits to his lawyer is Leni. K. and Leni seem to enjoy some aggressive hand-holding while the lawyer sips his tea, apparently oblivious to their affair.
  • K. decides that he has to dismiss his lawyer and take charge of his trial personally, even if it means quitting his job and devoting his entire life to his own defense. But he can't seem to get enough energy to actually write out his petition.
  • Just then, K. is interrupted when an important client, a manufacturer, stops by. As the manufacturer explains his proposal, K.'s attention fades, and he's a little embarrassed when he can't really respond intelligently to the manufacturer because he hasn't been paying attention.
  • The vice president of the bank interrupts their meeting. K. suspects the vice president of attempting to undermine K.'s position at the bank. And indeed, the vice president promptly swoops the manufacturer aside and guides the manufacturer away from K.'s office.
  • Eventually, the manufacturer returns, pleased with the vice president's response. To K.'s surprise, the manufacturer knows about his trial and offers him an introduction to a friend, Titorelli, a painter whose work consists mainly in small landscapes and portraits, specifically of judges.
  • While at first reluctant, K. decides he'll go see Titorelli. To do so, he has to ignore three clients who are sitting in his waiting room, but, surprise, the vice president swoops in again and tells the clients that he'll take care of them in K.'s absence. To top it all off, the vice president starts snooping around K.'s office.
  • K. arrives in Titorelli's neighborhood, which is even more impoverished than the neighborhood of the courts. On the way up the stairs, a crowd of girls passes K., and, as he follows them, he asks them if Titorelli lives there. The apparent leader of the pack, who seems around thirteen and has a hunchback, leers at him suggestively instead.
  • Disturbed, K. continues to go up the stairs with the girls until they arrive at Titorelli's attic studio. Titorelli invites K. in and shoos the girls away, but the girls stay by his door, clamoring to be allowed in.
  • K. shows Titorelli the manufacturer's letter of introduction, but Titorelli doesn't seem to understand that K. wants to talk to him about his trial. So K. asks Titorelli about his paintings. Titorelli shows him the painting he's working on, a portrait of a judge in the exact same manner and style as the portrait that K. saw in Huld's study.
  • K. decides this is an in to ask Titorelli about his trial. Titorelli admits that he knew that's why K. was here all along. Titorelli invites K. to make himself at home, and suddenly K. feels the air to be oppressively heavy. After Titorelli encourages K. to make himself comfortable on the bed, he asks K. whether he's innocent. K. replies that he is. Titorelli seems to think that's a good thing, but doesn't really explain why or how this will help K. in his trial.
  • Titorelli gives K. a little background on himself: he comes from a long line of court painters. The rules of portraying the court are so arcane that only certain painting families can do the paintings correctly.
  • Titorelli then asks K. whether K. is interested in an actual acquittal, apparent acquittal, or a protraction. Before K. can get his hopes up, Titorelli explains that an actual acquittal is virtually unheard of, the stuff of ancient legends that he himself has illustrated on occasion.
  • An apparent acquittal, according to Titorelli, is like a temporary stop of the trial, but K. could be arrested again at any time and the trial could begin again. That doesn't sound fun to K.
  • A protraction, Titorelli explains, is basically a delay tactic, where you keep the trial in motion through various legal maneuvers, deferring the final judgment as endlessly as possible. On the plus side, you don't have to worry about sudden arrests. On the negative side, you spend your entire life working on your own case.
  • That doesn't sound like any fun to K. either, so he takes his leave. But, before he goes, Titorelli manages to sell him a bunch of paintings of heaths.
  • Since the annoying brats are still at Titorelli's front door, he invites K. to climb over his bed and go through the back door. When the door opens, to K.'s surprise, he sees the long hallway of the law court offices.
  • K. manages to get out of the building, and takes a cab to the bank, where he locks the paintings away in a drawer.