The Trial

Pdf fan Tap here to download this LitChart! (PDF)
Block is a client of Herr Huld’s who has been on trial for five years. His obsession with his trial has led him to enlist the services of five different lawyers. Huld finds Block irritating and treats him contemptuously, rarely deigning to speak to him. However, Block is so desperate to consult with the lawyer that he will grovel at Huld’s bedside, and often sleeps in Huld’s house in the hopes of being seen.

Block Quotes in The Trial

The The Trial quotes below are all either spoken by Block or refer to Block. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Justice vs. The Law Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Oxford University Press edition of The Trial published in 2009.
Chapter 8 Quotes

I don’t know who the great lawyers are, and I presume you can’t get to them. I know of no case where it can be said for certain that they took part. They defend some people, but you can’t get them to do that through your own efforts, they only defend the ones they want to defend. But I assume a case they take on must have progressed beyond the lower court. It’s better not to think of them at all, otherwise you’ll find the consultations with the other lawyers, their advice and their assistance, extremely disgusting and useless. I’ve been through that myself, you feel like throwing everything up, taking to your bed, and ignoring everything.

Related Characters: Block (speaker)
Related Symbols: The Court’s Oppressive Air
Page Number: 128-129
Explanation and Analysis:

Josef has gone to Huld's house to inform him that he no longer wants Huld to be his lawyer; there he has discovered Block, another of Huld's clients, who tells Josef about his own case. Block has confessed that he secretly sees five different lawyers and has spent five years on trial. In this passage, he admits that "the great lawyers" only defend some people and that he doesn't know who they are or how a person could access them; he advises Josef not to think about these mysterious great lawyers or else he will become too dissatisfied with his own lawyer, Huld. What Block does not realize as he gives Josef this advice is that Josef is already dissatisfied with Huld, to the point that he has decided to cease using Huld's services.

Block's story of struggle and frustration is similar to what Josef has endured. Indeed, Block's description of wanting to throw up and hide in bed shows that Josef is not alone in experiencing a physical reaction to the stress of his trial (although in Josef's case, he feels stifled by the court's air). However, like many other characters in the novel, Block seems somewhat resigned to the inevitability of the injustice of the law. In contrast to Josef, who has decided to fire Huld as his lawyer, Block claims it is best to simply ignore the possibility that more effective lawyers exist. This willful ignorance creates a claustrophobic, stagnant situation, as people refuse to resist or protest against the absurd legal system.

A+

Unlock explanations and citation info for this and every other The Trial quote.

Plus so much more...

Get LitCharts A+
Already a LitCharts A+ member? Sign in!
Get the entire The Trial LitChart as a printable PDF.
The trial.pdf.medium

Block Character Timeline in The Trial

The timeline below shows where the character Block appears in The Trial. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 8
Alienation and Control Theme Icon
The two men walk towards the lawyer’s office, and the bearded man introduces himself as Block. He is a tradesman and a client of Huld’s. Josef’s control of this conversation makes... (full context)
Alienation and Control Theme Icon
Sex and Seduction Theme Icon
...upon Leni making soup in the lawyer’s kitchen. Josef interrogates Leni about her relationship to Block, but she flatteringly assures him that he has no reason to envy the tradesman. Leni... (full context)
Justice vs. The Law Theme Icon
The Absurd Theme Icon
The Unknowable and Interpretation Theme Icon
Alienation and Control Theme Icon
In the kitchen, Josef asks Block about his case. Block begins to prattle about his business and his trial. Before Block... (full context)
The Absurd Theme Icon
The Unknowable and Interpretation Theme Icon
Alienation and Control Theme Icon
Block also explains that because the court cannot be understood rationally, many defendants rely on superstition.... (full context)
Justice vs. The Law Theme Icon
The Absurd Theme Icon
The Unknowable and Interpretation Theme Icon
Block reveals that he has spent five years on trial. Most lawyers cannot influence a case,... (full context)
Justice vs. The Law Theme Icon
The Absurd Theme Icon
...returns to the kitchen to tell Josef that Huld is waiting for him. Josef presses Block to continue speaking, but he seems reluctant to do so in Leni’s presence. Leni tells... (full context)
Justice vs. The Law Theme Icon
Alienation and Control Theme Icon
Leni shows Josef the cramped room that Block sleeps in, and the merchant’s pathetic presence is suddenly too much for Josef to bear.... (full context)
Alienation and Control Theme Icon
Sex and Seduction Theme Icon
...his maid’s behavior, Huld tells Josef that Leni has a mysterious attraction to accused men—even Block. (full context)
The Unknowable and Interpretation Theme Icon
...shows him how much worse other defendants are treated. As if to prove this point, Block is summoned, and the lawyer browbeats him mercilessly. (full context)
Justice vs. The Law Theme Icon
Alienation and Control Theme Icon
Josef protests Huld’s treatment of Block, but Block is insulted and lashes out at Josef. Block then returns to groveling before... (full context)