In the cathedral, the prison chaplain
a parable taken from the opening pages of the Law. In the parable, a man from the country tries to gain access to the law, but is forbidden by a doorkeeper
, who is just the first of many doorkeepers, each of which is more powerful than the one before. The man waits outside for years. Just as the man is about to die of old age, the doorkeeper closes the gate, telling the man it was meant just for him. This allegory symbolizes the absurdity of the legal system, the multiple gatekeepers suggests a connection to the bureaucracy and the fact that no one in the bureaucracy holds ultimate authority or can even access that authority, and Josef’s unsuccessful attempts to decipher the meaning of the parable illustrate the unresolvable ambiguities of the Law.