The Indoctrinated Officer

It is difficult to tell whether or not the Officer is a person who should be pitied or considered a zealot hell bent on returning to a time of torture.  Ultimately, however, the Officer is an individual who has been completely indoctrinated by the Old Commandant and cannot escape his mental prison.  The Officer exhibited behavior of an individual who had been forced to engage in horrific behaviors; he had been conditioned to believe this was the only acceptable course of action and behaved accordingly.

The Officer ventures to explain how justice is executed within the Colony, and paramount to his explanation was the phrase “the basic principle I use for my decisions is this: Guilt is always beyond a doubt” (Kafka 3).  The last words of this statement, “Guilt is always beyond a doubt” (Kafka 3), appear in the text as if they are  a direct quote, which makes it appear as a phrase the Officer was taught to live by and follow without question.  This type of dedication to something so harsh is obtained by careful conditioning and creates a person who is dead to any reality besides the one they were taught.  The officer has been told that guilt is the standard to live by and he has become so dedicated to his ideals that no other option seems acceptable.

Additionally, when faced with a reality separate from the one he had been existing in for so long, the Officer had what appeared to be a mental break.  The Officer reacted the way that many would and went a little mad when faced with the fact that his reality was ending.  After the Traveller had stated he did not support the apparatus the Officer begins yelling at him to read one of the papers he holds and when the Traveller cannot he yells “‘Be Just!’…it was clear that he [the Traveller] was still unable to read anything. ‘Be Just!’” (Kafka 10).  Clearly that Officer is so obsessed with the rules he cannot fathom not following the rules given to him by the Old Commandant.

Ultimately in the face of having his reality altered the Officer kills himself by using the apparatus because facing something other than the laws he knew under the Old Commandant was unbearable.  The Officer behaved the way any conditioned person would have and followed the rules he believed in until the end.  There was no world for the Officer besides the one that had been assigned to him and taught to him by the Old Commandant, which is why the Officer should be pitied.  It may not excuse his actions, but considering how intensely the Officer stuck to his rules and regulations he is quite a pitiful character.


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One response to “The Indoctrinated Officer

  1. siegvald

    I agree with your thoughts on this. I do think he was conditioned at an early age to view the apparatus and the Old Commandant’s views as “justice,” however I don’t think he should have been held completely unblameable for his actions. There were others who opposed execution by the apparatus, and the Officer knew there was an opposition. If there was a strong opposition, it is my opinion that a person who was truly seeking justice would have investigated further: why is there an opposition? Why do these people disagree with these methods? Etc. I think the Officer was too “far gone” though to really care about anything else. He was clearly obsessed with the apparatus and torturing people.

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