The Trial By Franz Kafka Chapter 7

At last, K. was by himself. It did not enter his head to show anyone else into his office and only became vaguely aware of how nice it was that the people outside thought he was still negotiating with the manufacturer and, for this reason, he could not let anyone in to see him, not even the servitor. He went over to the window, sat down on the ledge beside it, held firmly on to the handle and looked down onto the square outside. The snow was still falling, the weather still had not brightened up at all.

He remained a long time sitting in this way, not knowing what it actually was that made him so anxious, only occasionally did he glance, slightly startled, over his shoulder at the door to the outer room where, mistakenly, he thought he'd heard some noise. No-one came, and that made him feel calmer, he went over to the wash stand, rinsed his face with cold water and, his head somewhat clearer, went back to his place by the window. The decision to take his defence into his own hands now seemed more of a burden than he had originally assumed. All the while he had left his defence up to the lawyer his trial had had little basic affect on him, he had observed it from afar as something that was scarcely able to reach him directly, when it suited him he looked to see how things stood but he was also able to draw his head back again whenever he wanted. Now, in contrast, if he was to conduct his defence himself, he would have to devote himself entirely to the court — for the time being, at least — success would mean, later on, his complete and conclusive liberation, but if he was to achieve this he would have to place himself, to start with, in far greater danger than he had been in so far. If he ever felt tempted to doubt this, then his experience with the deputy director and the manufacturer that day would be quite enough to convince him of it. How could he have sat there totally convinced of the need to do his own defence? How would it be later? What would his life be like in the days ahead? Would he find the way through it all to a happy conclusion? Did a carefully worked out defence — and any other sort would have made no sense — did a carefully worked out defence not also mean he would need to shut himself off from everything else as much as he could? Would he survive that? And how was he to succeed in conducting all this at the bank? It involved much more than just submitting some documents that he could probably prepare in a few days' leave, although it would have been great temerity to ask for time off from the bank just at that time, it was a whole trial and there was no way of seeing how long it might last. This was an enormous difficulty that had suddenly been thrown into K.'s life!

And was he supposed to be doing the bank's work at a time like this? He looked down at his desk. Was he supposed to let people in to see him and go into negotiations with them at a time like this? While his trial trundled on, while the court officials upstairs in the attic room sat looking at the papers for this trial, should he be worrying about the business of the bank? Did this not seem like a kind of torture, acknowledged by the court, connected with the trial and which followed him around? And is it likely that anyone in the bank, when judging his work, would take any account of his peculiar situation? No- one and never. There were those who knew about his trial, although it was not quite clear who knew about it or how much. But he hoped rumours had not reached as far as the deputy director, otherwise he would obviously soon find a way of making use of it to harm K., he would show neither comradeship nor humaneness. And what about the director? It was true that he was well disposed towards K., and as soon as he heard about the trial he would probably try to do everything he could to make it easier for him, but he would certainly not devote himself to it. K. at one time had provided the counter-balance to what the deputy director said but the director was now coming more and more under his influence, and the deputy director would also exploit the weakened condition of the director to strengthen his own power. So what could K. hope for? Maybe considerations of this sort weakened his power of resistance, but it was still necessary not to deceive oneself and to see everything as clearly as it could be seen at that moment.

For no particular reason, just to avoiding returning to his desk for a while, he opened the window. It was difficult to open and he had to turn the handle with both his hands. Then, through the whole height and breadth of the window, the mixture of fog and smoke was drawn into the room, filling it with a slight smell of burning. A few flakes of snow were blown in with it. "It's a horrible autumn," said the manufacturer, who had come into the room unnoticed after seeing the deputy director and now stood behind K. K. nodded and looked uneasily at the manufacturer's briefcase, from which he would now probably take the papers and inform K. of the result of his negotiations with the deputy director. However, the manufacturer saw where K. was looking, knocked on his briefcase and without opening it said, "You'll be wanting to hear how things turned out. I've already got the contract in my pocket, almost. He's a charming man, your deputy director — he's got his dangers, though." He laughed as he shook K.'s hand and wanted to make him laugh with him. But to K., it once more seemed suspicious that the manufacturer did not want to show him the papers and saw nothing about his comments to laugh at. "Chief clerk," said the manufacturer, "I expect the weather's been affecting your mood, has it? You're looking so worried today." "Yes," said K., raising his hand and holding the temple of his head, "headaches, worries in the family." "Quite right," said the manufacturer, who was always in a hurry and could never listen to anyone for very long, "everyone has his cross to bear." K. had unconsciously made a step towards the door as if wanting to show the manufacturer out, but the manufacturer said, "Chief clerk, there's something else I'd like to mention to you. I'm very sorry if it's something that'll be a burden to you today of all days but I've been to see you twice already, lately, and each time I forgot all about it. If I delay it any longer it might well lose its point altogether. That would be a pity, as I think what I've got to say does have some value." Before K. had had the time to answer, the manufacturer came up close to him, tapped his knuckle lightly on his chest and said quietly, "You've got a trial going on, haven't you?" K. stepped back and immediately exclaimed, "That's what the deputy director's been telling you!" "No, no," said the manufacturer, "how would the deputy director know about it?" "And what about you?" asked K., already more in control of himself. "I hear things about the court here and there," said the manufacturer, "and that even applies to what it is that I wanted to tell you about." "There are so many people who have connections with the court!" said K. with lowered head, and he led the manufacturer over to his desk. They sat down where they had been before, and the manufacturer said, "I'm afraid it's not very much that I've got to tell you about. Only, in matters like this, it's best not to overlook the tiniest details. Besides, I really want to help you in some way, however modest my help might be. We've been good business partners up till now, haven't we? Well then." K. wanted to apologise for his behaviour in the conversation earlier that day, but the manufacturer would tolerate no interruption, shoved his briefcase up high in his armpit to show that he was in a hurry, and carried on. "I know about your case through a certain Titorelli. He's a painter, Titorelli's just his artistic name, I don't even know what his real name is. He's been coming to me in my office for years from time to time, and brings little pictures with him which I buy more or less just for the sake of charity as he's hardly more than a beggar. And they're nice pictures, too, moorland landscapes and that sort of thing. We'd both got used to doing business in this way and it always went smoothly. Only, one time these visits became a bit too frequent, I began to tell him off for it, we started talking and I became interested how it was that he could earn a living just by painting, and then I learned to my amazement that his main source of income was painting portraits. 'I work for the court,' he said, 'what court?' said I. And that's when he told me about the court. I'm sure you can imagine how amazed I was at being told all this. Ever since then I learn something new about the court every time he comes to visit, and so little by little I get to understand something of how it works. Anyway, Titorelli talks a lot and I often have to push him away, not only because he's bound to be lying but also, most of all, because a businessman like me who's already close to breaking point under the weight of his own business worries can't pay too much attention to other people's. But all that's just by the by. Perhaps — this is what I've been thinking — perhaps Titorelli might be able to help you in some small way, he knows lots of judges and even if he can't have much influence himself he can give you some advice about how to get some influential people on your side. And even if this advice doesn't turn out to make all the difference I still think it'll be very important once you've got it. You're nearly a lawyer yourself. That's what I always say, Mr. K. the chief clerk is nearly a lawyer. Oh I'm sure this trial of yours will turn out all right. So do you want to go and see Titorelli, then? If I ask him to he'll certainly do everything he possibly can. I really do think you ought to go. It needn't be today, of course, just some time, when you get the chance. And anyway — I want to tell you this too — you don't actually have to go and see Titorelli, this advice from me doesn't place you under any obligation at all. No, if you think you can get by without Titorelli it'll certainly be better to leave him completely out of it. Maybe you've already got a clear idea of what you're doing and Titorelli could upset your plans. No, if that's the case then of course you shouldn't go there under any circumstances! And it certainly won't be easy to take advice from a lad like that. Still, it's up to you. Here's the letter of recommendation and here's the address."

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