In the Penal Colony Characters

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Colonel

See Officer

Condemned man

See Prisoner

Explorer

The narrative of "In the Penal Colony" primarily recounts the explorer's experiences. Typical of Kafka's protagonists, the explorer is a somewhat tenuous character, with little will of his own. .The explorer has accepted an invitation to view an execution. Initially, he is a disinterested bystander, but the means of execution and the officer's behavior lead the explorer to question the present Commandant's motives in issuing the invitation. He wonders if he is expected to play a decisive role in the execution process. The ambiguity of his role unsettles him.

The explorer is a foreigner, that is, he does not share the nationality of those who live in the penal colony. He may be French: French is the language in which he speaks to the officer. The explorer arrives at the penal colony with "recommendations from high quarters" and is known there...

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This section contains 1,100 words
(approx. 3 pages at 400 words per page)
Buy the In the Penal Colony Study Guide
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Short Stories for Students
In the Penal Colony from Short Stories for Students. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.