Ambiguity of Characters in Franz Kafka’s ‘in the Penal Colony’ and ‘Waiting for the Barbarians’

2424 words 10 pages
Ambiguity of Characters in Franz Kafka’s ‘In The Penal Colony’ and ‘Waiting for The Barbarians’

J.M. Coetzee is one of many well-known post-colonial writers. He was born and spent hid childhood in South Africa. Therefore, many people think that his novel “Waiting for The Barbarians” is an allegory of the situation of South African in a time of apartheid (Head 75). In addition, Coetzee is strongly influenced by the famous author, Franz Kafka. As a result, it is not surprised that “Waiting for the Barbarians” has many similarities to Kafka’s “In The Penal Colony”. In terms of intertexuality, this essay will discuss the ambiguity of characters in Kafka’s ‘In The Penal Colony’ and Coetzee’s ‘Waiting for The Barbarians’ in order to learn the
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I think that is why the Traveler seems so upset at the end of the story. In contrast, the condemned man who is supposed to be a victim presents a comic-like characteristic, such as copying the traveler’s action or being described as ‘dog-like’ which making it hard to sympathize with him. In fact, he is indirectly presented as cruel since he enjoys seeing the Officer under the machine—‘Silent laughter spread across his face’, and thinks that it is a ‘vengeance’ for him. In addition, he even shows interest in the machine more than the Traveler and the soldier signifying that he may like cruelty. In ‘Waiting for the Barbarians’, the Empire sees themselves as a victim who has to defend their benefit in the frontier from being attacked by the barbarians. Therefore, they spread news that gives a negative connotation for the barbarians, such as a raper. Nevertheless, as readers, we know that the real victim is the barbarian, the natives who own the land while the Empire is just an occupant. They have to suffer from being tortured to confess what they haven’t actually done. To conclude, there is an ambiguity in the status as a victim.

2. Morality When you talk about the identity of someone, it is impossible not to mention their code of moral. The morality in ‘In The Penal Colony’ and ‘Waiting for The Barbarians’ is ambiguous because of the action of the character that is paradoxical to the conscience they say they have and

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