In the Penal Colony

All for One 12th Grade

When faced with injustices, it is far easier to say one would act against them than actually physically or verbally doing so. In Franz Kafka’s “In The Penal Colony,” when invited, an explorer is subjected to observe an inhumane execution where defendants are mercilessly murdered with inscriptions of their crimes. The officer, the procedure’s lone, surviving supporter, hopes that the explorer will agree with these methods; however, when he does not, the officer elects he himself to be put to death by the unjust machine. The explorer’s response, the lack of any remote notion of stopping the officer, reveals his internal conflict of acting or not acting, his strong sense of self-preservation, and his small sense of sympathy.

As the officer strips in order to be placed in the machine, “The explorer bit his lips and said nothing” (220) as if stopping himself from utilizing his power to stop the officer. It reveals an internal conflict within the explorer, in which he is hesitant to act but is aware that he should. Even when merely discussing the procedure itself, the explorer says, “I was already wondering whether it would be my duty to intervene and whether my intervention would have the slightest chance of success” (216). This...

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