The Trial: chapter 8

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Chapter Eight

K. has made the final decision to fire his lawyer. Since he wants to see the lawyer’s reaction, he decides to visit him instead of writing a letter or telephoning.  At Huld’s office, the door is slow to open and when K. enters he sees Leni running away in her nightgown with a disheveled old man. He immediately inquires weather he and Leni are lovers and she runs away. Block, another of Huld’s clients, and K. search for Leni in the Lawyer’s office but locate her cooking soup in the kitchen. Leni embraces K. and she answers his inquiry about the strange man: “he's a pitiful character, a poor businessman by the name of Block. Just look at him” (82). 

Leni soothes K. and leaves to bring the Lawyer some soup at which point K. and Block converse.  Block confesses to K. that his case has been going on for five years and that he has accumulated five additional lawyers.  Huld knows nothing about the other lawyers.  Block also tells K. that he has used up most of his financial resources and dedicated himself totally to his defense: “I wanted to see some tangible progress” (87).  And, while Huld was considered a “great lawyer,” he also felt it necessary to utilize the efforts of “petty lawyers,” as well.

When Leni returns, she finds K. and Block huddled together in conversation and tells them to continue talking. K. has begun to view Block in a different light: “the man was of some value after all, he had experience at least, and he was willing to share it” (88).  To Leni’s dismay, K. becomes more interested in the knowledgeable Block who has taken up residence in the maid’s room in Huld’s house. When K. announces that he is planning to dismiss Huld, they cannot believe it.  Leni attempts to stop him but he locks her out after entering the Lawyer’s bedroom.

The Lawyer, who is in bed, explains to him that Leni has this strange attraction for accused men: “that those who are facing a charge are the most attractive . . . it can only be that the proceedings levelled against them take some kind of hold on them. She loves all of them and sometimes indulges the Lawyer by telling him about his clients” (90). K. tells the Lawyer that he no longer wants his representation and the Lawyer attempts to talk him out of his decision by claiming to be fond of him. K. explains that before he engaged him as a lawyer, he wasn’t that worried about his trail: “but then, once there was someone representing me, everything was set for something to happen, I was always, without cease, waiting for you to do something, getting more and more tense, but you did nothing” (91).  The Lawyer attempts to explain himself and talk K. out of leaving. He insists that the hard work he performs for all his client’s cases have caused him to become ill.  When K. asks specifically what he can expect if he remains Huld’s client, the Lawyer responds: "I should continue with what I've already been doing for you” (92). 

The Lawyer calls for the cowering Block to enter and treats him as one would a dog. K. realizes that Huld is mistreating Block to demonstrate the power the Lawyer has over him and to subjugate K. himself. Soon, the abject Block is licking the Lawyer’s hand. K. cannot believe the Lawyer would use such pitiful tactics to get him to change his mind. The Lawyer continues to taunt Block with possible things his friend the judge might have uttered about Block’s case and soon Block’s mind becomes unfocused.  At this point, the chapter, which Kafka never finished, ends.



Block exemplifies the trajectory of K.’s life if he follows the pattern set out for him by the Law, the Court and the Lawyer. By now, we have seen him diminish from a confident, successful go-getter to a paranoid, confused, agitated mess. And, he has yet to make any progress in his case.  Block has been under the Lawyer’s thumb for five years. And, although he, like K. has lost faith in Huld, Block has also engaged five additional “petty” attorneys, one for each year.  He has become so attached to Huld that he lives in his house, in a tiny servant’s room, and allows the Lawyer to literally treat him like a dog: “Block had already crept some way into the room . . . he seemed about to fall but remained standing, deeply bowed, and said, ‘At your service, sir’”( 94). Pathetically, while the Lawyer ignores his presence “with one hand, he carefully stroked the bed cover,” while Leni speaks of him as if he wasn’t in the room.  At Leni’s prompting, he kisses the Lawyer’s hand—like a good dog.

When K. finds the nerve to inform Huld he no longer needs his service, the Lawyer says “so many litigants, at the same stage in their trials, have stood before me just like you are now and spoken in the same way.” Then he uses Block as an example of the quality of service he can provide.  Yes, in five years, K. will be thoroughly subjugated.  At this point, K. begins to realize that if he engages Titorelli’s help and continues with his lawyer, he will be just like Block. (91). 

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