The Trial

The Trial Metaphors and Similes

Like a dog (Simile)

In his last words, Josef K. cries out "Like a dog!" as the executioners twist a butcher's knife into his heart. In this simile, K. likens his undignified execution to the way humans put elderly or infirm dogs out of their misery to end their suffering.

Flies tearing their legs (Metaphor)

As K. is being led to the quarry by his executioners, he considers using the last of his strength to try to escape his fate. Kafka writes that "the image of flies tearing their legs to get away from the flypaper occurred to him." In this metaphor, Kafka illustrates how K. sees himself as having nothing to lose by likening K. to a fly that is so committed to attaining freedom that it will sacrifice its limbs.

Like a thirsty animal (Simile)

When K. barrages Fräulein Bürstner with kisses, Kafka writes that he is "like a thirsty animal furiously lapping at the water of the spring it has found at last." In this simile, Kafka illustrates the vigorousness of K.'s kisses by comparing the action to that of a thirsty animal drinking from a spring.

Like a plank of wood (Simile)

During his tour of the court offices, K. grows faint and needs to be led outside by two people. Kafka writes that K. is "completely dependent on them, if they were to let go he would fall down like a plank of wood." In this simile, Kafka illustrates K.'s inability to remain upright of his own power by likening his stability to that of an unsupported plank of wood.

A clean wound (Metaphor)

When K. goes to consult with Huld, Huld says once they clear things up with the head of administration, K.'s case will be "a clean wound." In this metaphor, Huld borrows the language of surgeons to illustrate how K.'s case could be tidied up and allowed to develop healthily, in the way that a clean wound gradually heals.