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Free Study Guide: The Trial by Franz Kafka - Synopsis / Analysis

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THE TRIAL: PRINTABLE STUDY GUIDE / NOTES

CHAPTER 8

Notes

We wonder if Block is made a spectacle of helplessness when the Judge gives up his case as being hopeless, in order to convince K not to give up on Huld. But the very action is revolting to K. He decides to take his case off Huld's hands. Block talks about the superstition that people still hold on to. The Czech are a traditional superstitious race in modern times. The dog is used as a metaphor of humiliation thought the story. Block could be made to crawl into Kennel if necessary. Leni says she had locked him inside the room and given water through the ventilator.

The metaphor of swimming and non-swimming is evident in the character of Leni who "swims with the current" and completely identifies herself with the judicial system. Here the ancient fairy tale motif of a self-sacrificing maiden rescued from an imprisoned state undergoes a change. Leni knows she can never be exchanged for Elsa, who is never self sacrificing. She dominates her defendants. She finds them attractive as they are branded with the stereotype of the Biblical Cain. She derives a great deal of pleasure by bossing over them. She relates these erotic experiences to Huld, the lawyer for his pleasure.


Block is forced to exhibit his humiliation in Huld's presence. K. concludes that this would be happening with every dependent, whoever is Huld's client. But Leni is not vicious. She is just part of a system playing a monotonous role and aids Block's masochism. This disgusts K. and he decides to take his case off Huld's hands. Huld and Leni characterize a system, which affects modern society.

As Huld states, it is a fact that the lawyer guides the client and channels the course of the trial. Joseph K. is dependent on him completely. Huld seems to carry the entire court on his shoulders. The lawyer representing so many cases is a sick man, overburdening himself. He symbolizes the aging judicial system. The nurse and mistress, Leni warns him. He mediates between the dependent and the court. In fact he identifies himself with the dependent. His feeling of coldness is symbolic of the glacial cold where man suppers in his response to universal nature and the elements, whereas the court is bustling and sweaty, teeming with life.

It leads us to ask who could Huld be? He enumerates so many ways in which the client could lose himself. The world according to Huld seems to be enigmatic. Men's efforts have their limits; K.'s efforts to withdraw the case could end in defeat. He cannot deal with a court case like he does with a Business deal for the Bank. Huld render the situation into hopelessness. The lawyer is centered in the powerlessness of the human spirit and emphasizes the presence of a divine power. Faith is the substitute for knowledge; submitting to faith replaces imagination and protests. There is some mysterious "grace" which can help him if he surrenders and resigns himself to his fate.

Huld seems to stand for an unusual sacrifice. He seems to be suffering for others at a symbolic level. As the sacrificer he has the power to grant "grace" to those who surrender to him completely. Then he sees them pass safely through the verdict and reach a land where there is no judging or punishment.

We see here a mixture of religious hope and sexual masochism with reference to Leni. Huld in German also means 'grace.' Grace is offered in the form of a ceremony and so Block says that the petitions are in a great deal of Latin, which he does not understand. They go through the process of drafting and redrafting.

If one views Leni's offer of exchange for Elsa's place in his affections it is submitting oneself to biological instincts. In a Christian sense it is also a lack of grace. The Huld-Leni figures show the turn events take if mediators assume the role of authorities. K. decides to fight firmly rather than seek help. We are also reminded of his uncle who tells K. that he would bring "disgrace" to the family. But the uncle does not face the reality. It also seems to be fatalistic that one has to be reconciled to one's circumstances. The Judiciary has to be stared only by the lawyer. A client has to keep a low profile and not attract attention. This is the view expressed by powers who control everybody, whichever may be the institution.

People seem to be dangerously losing their individuality. In spite of Huld's convoluted viewpoint he designates himself on a lesser degree than the great lawyers. He guides people safely through the verdict. He is also vacillating between weakness and pride. In a modern sense he represents unconditional sacrifice in earthly terms. Huld's character can be comprehended only in this manner in his relationship to Leni. Leni is bound with the physical, biological aspect in liberating outcasts and men with carefree joy.


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