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The Trial: chapter 4

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Chapter 4

K. continues to pursue Miss Burstner although she makes it clear she does not want to see him.  He knocks on her door, sits in her room and finally sends her a letter that she refuses to answer.  One Sunday morning, he hears loud noises in the hallway and when he inquires, Mrs. Grubach tells him that a French German teacher named Miss Montag is moving into Miss Burstner’s room and sharing it with her. K. is piqued and takes his anger out on his landlady who cries when she recalls the assertions she made to K. about Miss Burstner’s moral character. At first he takes this as an apology but then she persists in her initial observations: “and I didn't say anything about Miss Burstner that I hadn't seen with my own eyes" (38). 

At his point, Miss Montag, who walks with a limp, asks to speak with K. on behalf of Miss Burstner, and they meet in the dining room.  Miss Montag explains that her friend has decided that no purpose would be served by continuing any sort of relationship with K.: “she made it clear to me that such a meeting could be of no benefit for yourself either” (39). He thanks Miss Montag and as they leave the room, Captain Lanz enters, goes over to Miss Montag, bows and deferentially kisses her hand. K. decides to ignore Miss Montag and goes straightaway to Miss Burstner’s room and knocks on the door: he was aware that Miss Burstner was “a little typist who would not offer him much resistance for long” (40).  When she doesn’t answer his knock, he enters her room observed by Miss Montag and the Captain. The room is empty.

Analysis

Kafka scholars don’t make much of this short chapter and hypothesize that since the novel remained unfinished, that perhaps the characters might have played a larger role in the final manuscript. It does provide insights, however, into K.’s impatience, frustration and arrogance. Captain Lanz’s gentlemanly treatment of Miss Montag, whom K. finds extremely annoying, casts K. in a darker light. 




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