Notes on Kafka’s The Trial, Chapter 2

I promised, when I did Chapter 1, that Chapter 2 would be coming soon. “Soon” is a vaguely defined word, so I will invoke the principle of the Zen Master and say that if a blog post emerges before it is ready does ill to reader and writer. And if you believe that, I have bitcoin to sell you.

Behold, my notes for chapter 2, in which our hero stews like an imbecile and paws his housemate.

  • Pg. 20 – “A young woman named Elsa, who worked at night and late into the morning as a waitress in a wine house, and by day received visitors only in bed.” I’m going to assume that this means what I think it means and note the wryness of Kafka’s tone. He’s funnier than I remember him, which isn’t saying much, but still.
  • pg. 22 – “A woman’s hand indeed worked quiet wonders…” This is just a good turn of phrase. I like it.
  • pg. 23. “…but this arrest — it seems like something scholarly…” Our boy is confronting the abstraction of the law. He cannot name the crime he’s accused of, and has no knowledge of it, so it becomes a philosophical exercise.
  • ibid – “It would be a positive pleasure to confront a situation like this in my office.” Comes across has bluster/cope. “I was embarrassed at my lodgings, but here in my office, I’d have DISMISSED those cops so HARD!”
  • pg. 25 – inadvertently slut-shaming Fraulein Burstner, then having to walk it back. He seems to have a habit of putting people off when he talks to them.
  • pg. 26 – why is he giving notice? Is he trying this hard to get out of the situation vis-a-vis Burstner? Or is he trying to get more into it, IYKWIM?
  • pg. 28 – Fraulein Burstner has the line of the chapter, in response to K’s politesse “I never listen to preliminaries.” A get-to-the-point kind of girl. Love it.
  • pg. 31 – He has to know, by this point, that she won’t grasp a thing he’s showing her. She’s exhausted, half in the bag, and doesn’t care. What is your damage, Heather?
  • pg. 33 – No conversation ever goes the way he intends. Something about this guy is off.
  • ibid – and for no particular reason, he’s making out with her now. The desire bursting forth, or the frustration funneling into desire?
  • pg. 34 – “He reflected briefly on his conduct: he was pleased with it, but was surprised that he didn’t feel even more pleased…” One begins to get the impression that he’s as dishonest with himself as the law is with him.

There’s definitely a layer to this character I hadn’t seen before. I already have some notes to Chapter 3, so there shouldn’t be as long a wait for the next post…

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