The Portrayal System In Kafka's In The Penal Colony

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In Kafka’s one of the famous stories, In The Penal Colony, Kafka depicts an island which is transforming from an honor-based society to a right-based society. the story depicts an explorer, who came from a right-based society, visit an officer who held traditional, honor-based beliefs. While most of the story is about an officer, who is the only one believing the old policies, explaining an apparatus to an explorer, the machine unveils an judicial system that is not only cruel and outdated, but also unjust, corrupted, and meaningless. Indeed, the story describes that such penal system have the same result as the machine’s, where it eventually collapses and destroys itself, and a new right-based society will be formed.
One of the reason that
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When the explorer asks if the condemned man knows his sentence, the officer replies that “there will be no point in telling him. He’ll learn it on his body.” (197) More surprisingly, the condemned man does not even know what he has been sentenced. In general, the goal of the punishment is let criminals realize their mistakes and prevent future crimes. However, the condemned man in the story does not know what he has done wrong. He is not given any chance to repent, but he is sentenced to death instead. Theoretically after twelve hours of torture, “then the judgment has been fulfilled, and we, the soldier and I, bury him.” (204) The officer also mentions that the machine will inscribe the sentence on the condemned man. (197) However, this practice is pointless because the condemned man will die eventually. More accurately, if the punishment of guilt is death in the Colony, the machine brings absolutely nothing but torture to the condemned man, who will die painfully without any rights and dignity because he has never known what he is condemned …show more content…
Nearing the end of the story, the explorer, condemned man, and a soldier went into a teahouse and found the grave of the old Commandant. “They pushed one of the tables aside, and under it there was really a gravestone. It was a simple stone, low enough to be covered by a table. There was an inscription on it in very small letters, the explorer had to kneel down to read it.” (226) The gravestone tells a prophecy that the old Commandant will rise again and recover the colony. The description of the gravestone illustrates the insignificance of the old Commandant after his death. It further explains the new right-based system will immediately overthrow the old one once it is introduced. In contrast, people will find the old, honor-based practices to be ridiculous because they have quickly adapted to the right-based system. It implies that people prefer the right-based judicial system, which emphasizes equality and justice among people, to the old honor-based judicial

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