In Franz Kafka’s “In the penal colony”, the story revolves around four characters; an officer, an explorer, a soldier, and a condemned man. The officer has created a machine, which he believes will be the best way to obtain justice. The condemned is unaware that his death will take place. During the story the machine is described in depth, and we learn about its validation.
The officer plays a crucial role in this story. When we are referring to the machine’s breakdown, it is actually the breakdown of the officer’s character. His character is barbaric which in turn leads him to become unaffected by the ruthlessness of the machine. How inhumane of the officer to even think about using such a machine that has so many needles to rummage into the flesh of another human. Though the prisoner has committed the crime of not saluting, he should not be executed and that too in such a punishable manner. The officer possesses a character of a person who follows his own set of rules no matter what. Tortured execution was the prime source of discipline. Hence, the breakdown of the machine adds to the officer’s degrading character. A man who once was all powerful and very stern broke down into a man who became limp and like a ragdoll when his own machine turned against him.
The officer wants his body to be inscribed with “Be Just.” A reason could be because he is so disciplinary and he won’t change his morals and rules. Being just means to be fair and according to him being fair is to follow the ultimate code of governance.
I think justice has been served to the full extent at the end of the story. The cruel, ruthless machine once constructed by the officer turned against him. Justice was served. The condemned man was saved because he hadn’t done anything wrong in a way. The officer on the other hand was acting in a very penalizing way towards the condemned man. Such a death defying machine...