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A Battle with Invisible Enemies in Kafka’s The Trail

A Battle with Invisible Enemies in Kafka’s The Trail

A sudden intrusion disrupts Joseph’s peaceful life and brings him in a battle of life and death. Unlike usual warfare, Joseph is combating the enemies who can neither be seen nor can fight back. Begin with the arrest and end with an execution, what judges the main character is not merely the invisible power but also the decaying law.i[i] One of the main ideas, “A Battle with Invisible Enemies,” in The Trail could be applied to the situation of Joseph as it applies to the theme of the fiction. Secondly the main character’s action in the novel also brings out the idea of his struggling. The theme either appears in the dialogue between Joseph K. and the inspector. Moreover, the structure is under the influence of the idea. Finally, variations of the idea show some profound implications of human society.

To Joseph K., the situation itself is a mystery. This is a story about a normal person suffers from absurd circumstances. One fine morning, an unknown person arrested K. without any reason. It suggests that “The opening of The Trail conveys a public intrusion into the private sphere as men, who seem to be state officials but turn out to be also associated with his place of work, penetrate a citizen’s bedroom and arrest him.”ii[ii] And it is just the beginning of series disasters. As Joseph tries to understand what actually happens, he receives only this answer, “We are not authorized to tell you that.” (p. 6) In later the parts of The Trail, K. is treated as a suspect and investigated by an inspector. However, the whole process of the arrest and investigation seems to be not only illegal but also arbitrary and absurd. Even in the judgment, K. is ex…

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vii[vii] Speirs and Sandberg, 87.

viii[viii] Stanley Corngold, Franz Kafka: The Necessity of Form. (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1988) 248.

ix[ix] Speirs and Sandberg, 97.

Works Cited

Bloom, Harold, ed. Modern Critical Views: Franz Kafka. New York: Chelsea House Publishers, 1986.

Boa, Elizabeth. Kafka: Gender, Class, and Race in the Letters and Fiction. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1996.

Corngold, Stanley. Franz Kafka: The Necessity of Form. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1988.

Emerich, Wilhelm. Franz Kafka: A Critical Study of His Writing. New York: Ungar Publishing, 1968.

Hayman, Ronald. Kafka: A Biography. New York: Oxford University press, 1982.

Lawson, Richard H.. Franz Kafka. New York: Ungar, 1987.

Speirs, Ronald, and Sandberg, Beatrice. Macmillan Modern Novelists: Franz Kafka. London: Macmillan Press, 1997.

A Postmodern Tendancy in Their Eyes Were Watching God

A Postmodern Tendancy in Their Eyes Were Watching God

…Zora Neale Hurston lacks [any] excuse. The sensory sweep of her novel

carries no theme, no message, no thought. In the main, her novel is not

addressed to the Negro, but to a white audience whose chauvinistic tastes she

knows how to satisfy. She exploits the phase of Negro life which is “quaint,” the

phase which evokes a piteous smile on the lips of the “superior” race.

— from “Their Eyes Were Watching God (1937),” a review by Richard Wright

An unfortunate side effect of the postmodern tendency is often reactions like the above. Zora’s work was not readily accepted in its time. Unlike fellow writers such as Faulkner and Joyce, Hurston’s was not incubated by the academy until theory could catch up to inspiration. Like writers such as Nabokov, however, her postmodernity is subtle and her novel, Their Eyes Were Watching God, is littered with trap doors to plunge the reader into a deeper interpretation of the text. Cynthia Bond picks up on this in her essay, “Language, Speech and Difference in Their Eyes Were Watching God,” when she calls it a meta-linguistic project (Bond, 206).” Further evidence of this depth is in the plentitude of critical work to appear since Zora’s rediscovery two decades ago and in the fact that, despite the voluminous attention given to Their Eyes Were Watching God, critics have failed to explore every facet of the novel. Ihab Hassan writes, in “Toward a Concept of Postmodernism,” that we can look at writers of the past and realize their postmodernity. His theory fits with the idea that postmodernism is not a movement, but a trait that is exhibited by certain authors pushing the limits of their time. Mo…

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…h, K.A. and Gates, Henry Louis, Jr. eds. Zora Neale Hurston: Critical Perspectives Past and Present. New York: Amistad Press, Inc., 1993.

Bond, Cynthia. “Language, Sign, and Difference in Their Eyes Were Watching God.” Appiah and Gates 204-17.

Derrida, Jacques. “Structure, Sign, and Play in the Discouse of the Human Sciences.” Hutcheon and Natoli 223-43.

Foucault, Michel. “Excerpts from Postmodernism, or the Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism.” Hutcheon and Natoli 333-341.

Hurston, Zora Neale. Their Eyes Were Watching God. New York: Harper

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