The Trial Novel Summary – Franz Kafka

The Trial Novel Summary - Franz Kafka
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The Trial is a Franz Kafkanovel that tells the story of Josef K., a protagonist who finds himself accused of a crime for reasons he cannot comprehend one morning. The Trial was published in 1925.

Summary Of The Trial

On the morning of his thirtieth birthday, two policemen arrive at the boarding house where Josef K. resides and inform him that he has been arrested. Josef, a successful chief accountant at a bank, does not learn the reason for his arrest. After a confusing interrogation, he is told to go about his usual business. Late in the evening, he unexpectedly goes to the room of another boarder named Fraulein Burstner and kisses her.

Josef is given a date for his first trial. He travels to the court located in a poor apartment building. At his trial, he stands before a large audience and denounces the legal system. Upon leaving, the judge informs him that his behavior will deprive him of the advantages obtained from such trials.

The following week, Josef is not notified of another trial, yet he still goes to the court. He finds it empty, with only a courtroom attendant who is a young guide, and he is taken to a judge by a law student while flirting with the guide. Shortly after, a court clerk, who happens to be the husband of the guide, arrives. He takes Josef on a tour of the law offices. The stifling atmosphere in the offices overwhelms Josef, and he faints before he can get some fresh air.

Josef tries to reconnect with Fraulein Burstner, but she ignores him. A few days later, he hears cries of distress as he leaves work in the evening. He opens a supply cupboard and discovers the policemen who arrested him being brutally beaten. The policemen claim they are being punished because of Josef’s conduct during his trial. Josef is deeply disturbed but closes the door and leaves to avoid being noticed by a coworker.

Josef’s uncle, Karl, visits him at work. Karl, who is aware of Josef’s the trial, is concerned and takes him to see a friend who is a lawyer named Herr Huld. At Huld’s house, they are joined by a sickly and bedridden friend who is also a lawyer. There is also a high-ranking court official there by chance, but he ignores Josef, who leaves the room and flirts with Huld’s maid, Leni. Afterwards, Karl tells Josef that his immoral absence is damaging his case.

At work, Josef becomes lost in thoughts about his trial and neglects to attend to important clients. Eventually, a client sees him, but he is so distracted that the assistant manager of the bank takes over the case – a blow to Josef’s career aspirations. After hearing about Josef’s trial, the client suggests that he meet Titorelli, a court painter who can paint a portrait of him.

Josef gets Titorelli’s address and leaves work, allowing his other clients to be transferred to his rival. Josef finds Titorelli’s apartment in a dilapidated heap of buildings. The painter offers to help Josef and explains the types of acquittals he could obtain. Titorelli’s explanation reveals that the guilty are never acquitted meaningfully; trials either continue indefinitely or result in conviction.

Growing increasingly preoccupied with the lack of progress, Josef decides to fire his lawyer. He goes to Huld’s office, where he meets Block, another client of the lawyer who has been undergoing trials for five years. When Josef announces his plan to fire Huld, Block and Leni try to dissuade him, but he reaches Huld’s office anyway. Surprisingly, Huld tries to win Josef back, but Josef remains unconvinced. At the end of the meeting, Huld summons a pleading Block, revealing that the merchant has been sleeping with Huld in hopes of seeing the lawyer.

Josef agrees to give a local cathedral tour to an important Italian client of the bank. But, the Italian does not show up. Instead, a priest ascends the pulpit and addresses Josef by name. The priest reveals himself to be the prison chaplain and has called Josef to the cathedral to speak about the trial. The priest tells Josef a mysterious story about multiple guards who protect the path of the Law.

On the night before Josef’s thirty-first birthday – a year after his arrest – two men come to his room. They take him to a stone quarry outside the city and stab him in the heart. Josef, ashamed of his own death, utters “Like a dog!” as his final words.

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