A Victim of Circumstance: The Officer

In the Penal Colony, Officer, Victim of Circumstance

The character of the Officer from In the Penal Colony is merely a victim of circumstance. He is accustomed to the way and workings of life within the colony and does not know any different. The Officer also operates on his own standards of morality and fails to understand why others do not view these as evident truths as well. Therefore, I believe him to not be the good nor the bad guy in the story.

The Officer looked up to his previous boss, whom created the apparatus and as a result of this relationship he has developed an intense fascination and passion for the apparatus. He is mesmerized by the working of the apparatus and is thrilled when given the opportunity to explain it to another, “That was good enough for the Officer, for now he could explain the apparatus himself.” (Kafka) The text goes on further in regard to him explaining the apparatus describing it as “so eagerly”. (Kafka)

The Officer further shows himself as a victim of circumstance, when it is evident that he lacks a sense of fairness and trial and is unable to understand why others do not see his views of morality. This concept is clearly demonstrated in a conversation between the Officer and the Traveller, ““So the man does not yet know even at this point how his defense was received?” “He has had no opportunity to defend himself,” said the Officer and looked away, as if he was talking to himself and did not wish to embarrass the Traveller with an explanation of matters so self-evident to him.” (Kafka)

With the Officer’s choice to release the Condemned Man, he continues to follows in line with his values of “Be Just”. Throughout the story he shows passion and always does what he believes to be the correct thing for the situation. The end only culminates this, as with the dying tradition of the  apparatus, so must he die as well.


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