In the Penal Colony

by

Franz Kafka

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Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Schocken Books edition of In the Penal Colony published in 1995.
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In the Penal Colony Quotes

“For I was the former Commandant's assistant in all-penal matters and know more about the apparatus than anyone. My guiding principle is this: Guilt is never to be doubted. Other courts cannot follow that principle, for they consist of several opinions and have higher courts to scrutinize them.”

Related Characters: The Officer (speaker), The Prisoner, The Old Commandant
Page Number: 145
Explanation and Analysis:

“Enlightenment comes to the most dull-witted. It begins around the eyes. From there it radiates. A moment that might tempt one to get under the Harrow oneself. Nothing more happens than that the man begins to understand the inscription, he purses his mouth as if he were listening. You have seen how difficult it is to decipher the script with one's eyes; but our man deciphers it with his wounds.”

Related Characters: The Officer (speaker), The Explorer , The Prisoner
Related Symbols: The Apparatus
Page Number: 150
Explanation and Analysis:

You are a foreigner, mind your own business. He could make no answer to that, unless he were to add that he was amazed at himself in this connection, for he traveled only as an observer, with no intention at all of altering other people's methods of administering justice. Yet here he found himself strongly tempted. The injustice of the procedure and the inhumanity of the execution were undeniable.

Related Characters: The Explorer , The Officer, The Prisoner
Related Symbols: The Apparatus
Page Number: 151
Explanation and Analysis:

“He has calculated it carefully: this is your second day on the island, you did not know the old Commandant and his ways, you are conditioned by European ways of thought, perhaps you object on principle to capital punishment in general and to such mechanical instruments of death in particular…”

Related Symbols: The Apparatus
Page Number: 155
Explanation and Analysis:

“Of course the Commandant is the kind of man to have turned these conferences into public spectacles. He has had a gallery built that is always packed with spectators. I am compelled to take part in the conferences, but they make me sick with disgust.”

Related Characters: The Officer (speaker), The Explorer , The New Commandant
Page Number: 158
Explanation and Analysis:

Now the officer began to spell it, letter by letter, and then read out the words. “‘BE JUST!’ is what is written there,” he said, “surely you can read it now.”

Related Characters: The Officer (speaker), The Explorer
Page Number: 160
Explanation and Analysis:

The explorer bit his lips and said nothing. He knew very well what was going to happen, but he had no right to obstruct the officer in anything. If the judicial procedure which the officer cherished were really so near its end—possibly as a result of his own intervention, as to which he felt himself pledged—then the officer was doing the right thing; in his place the explorer would not have acted otherwise.

Related Characters: The Explorer , The Officer
Page Number: 163
Explanation and Analysis:

The condemned man especially seemed struck with the notion that some great change was impending. What had happened to him was now going to happen to the officer. Perhaps even to the very end. Apparently the foreign explorer had given the order for it. So this was revenge. Although he himself had not suffered to the end, he was to be revenged to the end. A broad, silent grin now appeared on his face and stayed there all the rest of the time.

Related Characters: The Explorer , The Officer, The Prisoner
Page Number: 163
Explanation and Analysis:

[…] no sign was visible of the promised redemption; what the others had found in the machine the officer had not found; the lips were firmly pressed together, the eyes were open with the same expression as in life, the look was calm and convinced, through the forehead went the point of the great iron spike.

Related Characters: The Explorer , The Officer
Related Symbols: The Apparatus
Page Number: 166
Explanation and Analysis:

Here rests the old Commandant. His adherents, who now must be nameless, have dug this grave and set up this stone. There is a prophecy that after a certain number of years the commandant will rise again and lead his adherents from this house to recover the colony. Have faith and wait!

Related Characters: The Explorer , The Old Commandant
Page Number: 167
Explanation and Analysis:
No matches.