In The Penal Colony, By Franz Kafka Essay, Research Paper
” In the Penal Colony”
“In The Penal Colony”, Kafka illustrates the capital punishment of a colony run by a governor. Throughout the story, the officer who performs the execution reinforces all his actions by saying that this was how the previous governor used to do it or that this his how the previous governor would have liked it done. In doing this, Kafka applies his story to some everyday lifestyles by illustrating the manor of traditions.
As the story opens, the uniforms worn by the officer in the penal colony are obviously two thick and hot to be wearing, since the location of the penal colony is in the tropics. Yet when asked about this, the officer replies with, “They represent our homeland; we don’t want to be cut off from our country.” You would suppose that a colony in the tropics would be in a light uniform so that the heat would be bearable. Yet, because of tradition, the officer and the soldier are dressed in heavy cloth with jackets.
The officer gives the previous governor of the penal colony a very dignified impression by telling the explorer how, “While the old governor was still alive, the colony was full of his followers.” Yet it goes on to say how he was the only spokesman that will stand up for what the old governor had started. For a man to be the only spokesperson of a previous leader, there is more than likely something that made the previous leader unlikable by many. Yet the officer keeps the tradition of execution the same as the previous governor had in previous years.
As the story progresses, the explorer questions the officer about the judiciary system which the colony is run by and seems very disturbed when he finds out that the officer is the only judge of a persons fate. He replies to the explorer by telling him that, “Guilt is always beyond doubt. Other courts can’t adhere to this principle, because they consist of several judges and have even higher courts over them. That isn’t the case here, or at least it wasn’t under the previous governor.” Most people in modern days see a more just system if their accused crimes were to be judged by a jury than one person who gives the final word with no appeal. Yet the officer insists on keeping the old ways of tradition and insisting that they are the right ways to live by.