The Trial

Literapedia Book Notes for

The Trial by Franz Kafka

  • Josef K. (ch 1)— The Protagonist, the Chief Executive Officer at a large bank.
  • Frau Grubach (ch 1)— Josef K.’s Landlady
  • Fraülein Bürstner (ch 1)— Another tenant in K.’s building.
  • Uncle Karl (ch 6)— K.’s uncle who seeks legal aid for him.
  • Herr Huld (ch 6)— Karl’s sick lawyer.
  • Leni (ch 6)— Herr Huld’s nurse; has a strong attraction to K.
  • Assistant Manager (ch 7)— K.’s chief rival at work
  • Titorelli (ch 7)— A painter in the court who tries to help K.
  • Block, the Tradesman (ch 8)— Another client if Herr Huld’s who lives in his house.

Chapter Summaries

  1. Arrest: Josef K. is arrested one morning but not told the nature of the charges against him. After brief conversation with the warders performing the arrest, he is allowed to continue with his normal business of the day.
  2. Fraülein Bürstner: K. is informed of the time and place of his initial hearing and arrives late and with much difficulty in finding the room. He then gives a speech in his defense to the Examining Magistrate.
  3. Initial Inquiry: K. returns to the same courtroom the following Sunday but finds that there is not to be a trial on that day. He converses with the court usher’s wife and soon falls ill, but is refreshed by the fresh air when he exits the building.
  4. In the Empty Courtroom; The Student; The Offices: K. attempts to speak to Fraülein Bürstner, but she manages to avoid him. Another woman, Fraulein Montag, who moved into Fraülein Bürstner’s room, acts as an intermediary for Fraülein Bürstner and K.
  5. The Flogger: The two warders who initially arrested K. are whipping because K. made a complaint against their conduct at his first hearing; K. is greatly disturbed.
  6. The Uncle; Leni: Karl, K.’s uncle hears of the case and is very concerned. He brings K. to Herr Huld, his lawyer friend. Herr Huld is very sick, and his nurse, Leni, becomes very attracted to K.
  7. Lawyer; Manufacturer; Painter: K. expresses distaste for his lawyer. He handles a business matter with a manufacturer who recommends he talk to a painter friend of his who works in the courts. Titorelli, the painter, describes what he can hope for in his case.
  8. Block, The Merchant; Dismissal of the Lawyer: K. decides to dismiss the services of his lawyer. When visiting the lawyer to inform him he meets Block, the merchant. Block and Leni try to dissuade K. from dismissing his lawyer, but are unsuccessful.
  9. In the Cathedral: K. is told to escort an influential Italian client around to see the points of interest. K. goes to the Cathedral where he converses with the Priest, who is also the prison chaplain and connected to the court.
  10. The End: K. is seized by two men and hauled out of town to a deserted quarry where the two men stab and kill K.

Student Contributor

Alex Venning, '08