The Trial: chapter 6

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Chapter Six

K.’s cousin Erna has written to her father about K’s trial, and Uncle K. arrives in a whirlwind at K.’s bank to rescue his nephew.  After a lecture about family values, in which K. is reduced to the level of a child, he huddles K. off in a taxi that evening to see his old friend, the Lawyer Mr. Huld. At Huld’s house, the door is answered by an eighteen-year-old nurse who announces that the Lawyer is gravely ill. K. is immediately attracted to the girl who is named Leni.  In the dark bedroom, the Lawyer seems near death but revives when he hears that the Uncle and K. came to see him on business and not merely to make a sick call. The uncle insists that Leni leave the room.

Soon, it becomes apparent that the Lawyer has heard all about K.’s arrest and trial and when K. questions him about his sources he replies, "I am a lawyer, I move in Court circles, people talk about various different cases and the more interesting ones stay in your mind, especially when they concern the nephew of a friend” (51). However, there is someone else in the dark room listening to their private conversation: “in the light of the candle held up by K.'s uncle an elderly gentleman could be seen sitting beside a small table” (51). The Office Director, who is one of the principals involved in K.’s trial, begins to talk and soon the three older men discuss the case while K.’s mind back wanders to the young nurse.

Suddenly, K. hears a crash and rushes outside to discover that Leni has broken a plate on purpose to lure him out of the room.  Soon, she is all over him and he welcomes her advances. They stand beneath a picture of a judge who sits upon a throne.  Leni explains he is one of the judges involved in K.’s trial.  "That might be my judge," said K., pointing to the picture. Leni, who is sitting on K’s lap, tells him that she has heard it said that K. is “too unyielding” Then she assures him that she will help him but that he should “stop making these mistakes of yours, stop being so unyielding, there's nothing you can do to defend yourself from this Court, you have to confess.  So confess to them as soon as you get the chance.  It's only then that they give you the chance to get away, not till then” (53).

When Leni asks whether K. has a lover, he tells her about Elsa, the waitress who was mentioned in chapter one, and shows her a picture. Leni announces she wants to replace Elsa in his affections and when K. resists, she asks “has she got any bodily defects?” (54). K. is puzzled and then Leni shows him her hand which is webbed between two fingers.  He likes this and kisses her “defect.”  Leni is thrilled, announces that she has replaced Elsa as K.’s lover and gives him the key to the Lawyer’s office.

Outside, K.’s furious uncle waits.  Many hours have passed and the Lawyer and office director are aghast that K. left for hours without returning.



K. doesn’t seem to have parents, so the uncle fills the parental role and reminds him that his success has made him the pride of the family. However, that has all changed now that K. has been arrested. To lose the trial, well, that would ruin the entire family: “and you sit quietly here while you've got a criminal trial round your neck?" (54). As words fall out of Uncle Albert’s mouth, naturally K.’s level of guilt raises. 

From the beginning, the Lawyer sees nothing positive about K.’s trial. He tells the uncle:  “as far as your nephew's affairs are concerned, this will be an extremely difficult undertaking and I'd count myself lucky if my strength lasted out long enough for it” (57).  K. at this point has been relegated to the role of child.  The Lawyer, uncle and mysterious office director discuss the proceedings of K.’s trial while K. sits listless, daydreaming about the young nurse waiting outside the door. This meeting is the beginning of the long series of meetings that never go anywhere and lead to the diatribe against lawyers in chapter seven.

Leni is only eighteen; K. is thirty. Like the washerwoman, she throws herself at K. She’s mad about him. After once looking at him, she’s in love. Do men on trial have some special attractions for her? Consider that the women K. is involved with are working class women, typists, washerwoman and now a nurse of sorts. Also, they seem to be getting younger. 

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