Franz Kafka "Before the Law"

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English 206 - Topics in Literature
Franz Kafka “Before the Law”
Individual Project 1

When I originally read this short story, I initially got the impression that it was about Heaven and trying to get into Heaven by the choices made in life. However, it didn’t make much sense to me when the doorkeeper explained that beyond his gate, there were further, and much angrier, doorkeepers. I suppose I tried to explain it to myself that since no one is entirely certain if there is an afterlife and what lies beyond the afterlife, there might be multiple gates a soul could take.

However, after reading this a couple of more times, I came to the likely conclusion that this story was more about society. Society has various cliques, much like high school. In high school, there are the jocks and sports athletes, the cheerleaders and popular crowd, the techie group, among others. In society, there are also different classes to group people within. There are the multi-millionaires, the middle class, lower class, third-world poverty, etc. My impression about this short story was that the main character was seeking a different class which he was already living. For countless years, he had lived the country “bumpkin” style. He came to the gate to seek a different way of life. Finding that the gate was guarded by a rather tame doorkeeper, he chose to sit back and wait his entire life to be accepted into the next clique. Though the doorkeeper tells the man that he is powerful, he also mentions to the man that each hall presents another Doorkeeper, each more powerful than the last. This is my reason for describing the doorkeeper as weak.

This man had come from the country. He lived a simple life. When presented with the task of proving his self-confidence and strength to the doorkeeper, the man fails. He has not enough self-confidence to stand up to the doorkeeper to gain admittance through the gate, onto the next doorkeeper. Instead of standing up for what he wants, the man...
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