In the Penal Colony Summary

In the Penal Colony Summary

The Explorer visits a penal colony where the Soldier guards the Condemned. The Officer oversees the operation, explaining his affinitiy to the brutal torture device, telling the Explorer that the machine gives a high religious experience to the tortured criminal during the last half of the 12 hours it takes to die in the machine.

Certain controversy surrounds the use of the machine, since the accused are always considered guilty and condemned immediately, and unknowingly. Then, they have whichever law they broke carved into their skin and they endure torture for twelve hours until they die.

It becomes apparant that the Explorer is responsible to give an account of his impression of the machine to the Commandment. When the Explorer explains that he can't make the kind of statement the Officer would need to continue his operation, the Officer decides to condemn himself to death by torture. 

He carves the charge, "Be just," into his skin and straps into the device. The machine malfunctions, however and stabs the Officer to death, thus excluding him from the kind of transcendental experience he was hoping to achieve in his suicidal condemnation. The Explorer fleas, leaving the Soldier and the Condemned on the island. 

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