GERM 1027 Essay #3
Due Date: April 8 (to be placed in my mailbox, #61, on the 1st floor of McCain)
Thesis Due Date: March 25 (to be emailed to [email protected]; for additional advice you may also contact your tutorial leader; students whose first language
is Mandarin may also want to email their thesis statements to Michelle Lee at
Length: approximately 1,500 words
Here are some possible essay themes:
Justice and Injustice
Innocence and Guilt
The Use (or Misuse) of Parable
Self-esteem and Self-abasement
The Nature of Power and Authority
The Individual and the Collective
Meaning and Absurdity
Joseph K. and Franz Kafka
and the Modern World
Choose one theme to pursue. You are allowed to come up with your own, although I would like you to clear it with me first. Essays should be around six pages (not including the title page or bibliography). The themes are broad, but part of the assignment involves your coming up with a clear and effective thesis or argument about your theme in relation to The Trial. Your essay should have an introductory paragraph that closes with a proper and specific thesis statement, paragraphs organized around topics that reinforce your thesis, and a strong concluding paragraph.
For this essay I want you to use at least four critical resources, so check with the library to find the most appropriate books and/or articles. For books, the website Novanet provides a complete listing of all books and journals held by universities in Nova Scotia. For articles, the website JSTOR (which is free to access as Dalhousie students) provides thousands of articles on numerous subjects. Note: Internet sources such as Wikipedia, Douban, SparkNotes, and CliffsNotes are not critical sources. Please ask me if you have any questions about the validity of a source.
I want you to use the critics to aid your argument, but not to supplant it. Sometimes you may agree with the critic, but your argument is often enhanced by having an opinion to spar against. Be specific, focus in on key scenes or elements, and make sure that your argument is well supported with evidence and quotations from the works. When it comes to quoting from the text, comment on the quotes you use and do not simply allow them to speak for themselves. If you have any questions while writing your essays, or if you would like me to see rough drafts, please let me know
Thesis statements: please email me your thesis statements by March 25th. This is just for me to make sure that you are on the right path with your paper and that you have had a chance to come up with a clear, coherent, and concise argument that can be pursued in an essay. I will give feedback on this, as I want to make sure that everyone does a good job with the question and that finds a good angle with which to pursue it. Note: while the thesis is not due until the 25th, I very much encourage you to email it to me as soon as you are ready. The more time you have to work on your paper with the proper feedback, the better it will no doubt turn out.
The Trial: The Line between Justice and Injustice
Contemporary settings are dominated by insistence on justice in all engagements. Primarily, factors such as ethical conduct and diversity are encouraged because they depict some elements of justice. However, the level of justice experienced or realized varies across societies. Primarily, most people desist from doing things that will be deemed offensive from a legal perspective as a way of avoiding indifference with the law. In return, law-abiding citizens expect justice. However, it is not every day that justice comes to those who hope for it. As depicted by Kafka (2015) in “The trial” Josef K, after that referred to as K finds himself under arrest without having done anything wrong. In his ordeal, he experiences injustice from the start, as he is not told the reason for his arrest. Primarily, a thin line exists between justice and injustice that effects elements used for defining the trial. Therefore, even though trial approaches are based on the society, the people it is meant to affect, and the legal system, the success of the trial depends on distinguishing what factors amount to injustice from justice equitably across all people.
Justice is fairness in dealing and interacting with people. Ideally, it is a concept that everyone advocates for as a means of achieving equality in society (Thompson, 2017). However, justice is often defined by unfairness where lack of wrongdoings means that justice has occurred. Therefore, it is difficult to understand justice or feel that it has occurred without relating it to negative factors. For instance, maintenance of human rights and the provision of critical public services by the government is often considered a normal function of the leadership class. However, if these factors are not offered to people, the government is accused of being unjust. Therefore, in line with da Rocha Costa’s (2018) argument, justice is defined based on the absence of elements leading to injustice. In “The Trial,” K is used to receiving breakfast from Anna to the extent that he considers it normal. However, when he misses the meal, he feels that it is not right thereby alluding it to be an injustice.
The nature of K’s arrest offers the first glimpse of the thin line that exists between justice and injustice. Primarily, from K’s perspective, the lack of breakfast, entry of Franz, and the inadequate explanation of the guard Willen man all amount to injustice. He feels that he is being mistreated and even wonders why the men have not introduced themselves to him appropriately. All these elements amount to injustice from K’s view. However, the two guards do not see any injustice perpetrated by their actions. One of the guards says, “I am exceeding my instructions in talking to you in this friendly manner.” The sentiments infer that the guard sees himself as being over-generous and considerate to K. Therefore, the guards do not see any injustice instead; they are over just to K. The scenario shows that there is a little difference distinguishing injustice from justice. On the other hand, the distinction between the two elements is also influenced by the surroundings and individual perceptions. As such, what one person considers injustice may be just in the eyes of another person. The variance in interpretation is also shown when the two guards ask K not to wear a quality shirt and instead hand it to them together with other things for safe storage. Ideally, by saying that “It is better if you hand over your things to us now, rather than in the depot, things are often misappropriated in the depot,” the guards feel that they are offering significant help to K and extending their generosity. However, K sees impending injustice, which will see him lose his clothing.
Fundamentally, justice is separated from injustice by various legislations that define people’s conduct. Primarily, it is the law and people within its jurisdiction are required to understand the law and live within it (Montague, 2017). However, sometimes the mode of application or implementation of particular legislation fails to observe the fine line that exists between justice and injustice. Consequently, one wonders if those executing seemingly justice practices or regulations are just themselves. Moreover, if individuals are not just, how can they implement, monitor or oversee the implementation of justice laws. Even though it seems unlikely to have unjust people carry out duties that are associated with promoting justice, the phenomenon is common in most societies (Pepper, Gosling & Gore, 2015). Similarly, Kafka (2015) depicts this in “The Trial.” For instance, the guards sent to detain K have little understanding of the law. For example, one of the guards says that the authorities they are associated with “does not seek out guilt in the population but, as it says in the law, is attracted by guilt and has to send us guards out.” Therefore, it is succinct that the guards do not understand what sets justice from injustice, as their authorities do not engage in any practices that prove if a person is guilty, instead they just set out to deal with those deemed guilty. In this regard, it is easy to disregard the line existing between justice and injustice as an innocent person can be said to be guilty of non-existing crimes.
The frustration that befalls K elicits concerns over what amounts to injustice. Primarily, many events have occurred which are part of the standard prosecution system in the society but which K finds to be derogative. During his first trial, he brings all these issues to the attention of the court to explain how injustice was prevalent in the community. For instance, the supervisor of the guards who arrested him did not feel bad breaking into Frau Grubach’s house and turn it into a temporary office. Therefore, there appears to be a difference in the causes of injustice as viewed by the law officials and the law-abiding citizens. The events that occur during the first trial as highlighted by K also show how injustice exists under the watchful eyes of justice. For instance, from the guards who detained him to the magistrate, it seems that the individuals do not have a clear comprehension of the law, yet they are tasked with the duty of implementing justice as indicated in this statement “An organization which not only employs venal guards, foolish supervisors, and examining magistrates who are at best unassuming”. Therefore, as Feinberg (2017) states, it is a form of injustice against educated individuals with proper qualifications and good comprehension of the law that they remain unemployed while those in government positions have fewer qualifications.
“The Trial” focuses on the justice system in society using K’s experience. In this regard, there are laws, which guide citizens and those who go astray are punished. Just like in any society, this arrangement is supposed to be fair and the laws formulated should be binding and considerate to all individual (Törnblom & Vermunt, 2016). Moreover, governments maintain highly efficient structures to develop laws and help others in interpreting the legislation. It is through interpretation during trail processes that other individuals who are found guilty face punishment. However, in the courtroom where K goes for hearing, evidence suggests that there are no structures tasked with making and implementing laws that should guide the conduct of citizens. For instance, books, which should be used as a reference and are regarded as “books of law belonging to the magistrate,” do not contain any information on the criminal justice system. Therefore, the lack of useful structures for developing and interpreting the law means that there is no succinct definition of what is just and what is unjust. Thus, the nature of the fine line between justice and injustice depends on the perception of those in the position of power (Cugueró-Escofet, Fortin, & Canela, 2014). Consequently, an action done by a person in power such as the court student forcefully assaulting a woman sexually in the eyes of everyone is just but condemnation of the criminal justice system officials by K is heinous enough to deny him the benefits of a hearing.
The individuals involved in perpetuating and preventing injustice also contribute to reducing the significance of the line separating justice from injustice. In contemporary settings, law enforcement officers often hurt people through the use of force and sometimes they kill individuals because of stray bullets. However, their actions are not considered injustice against their victims (Sherman, 2016). However, if civilians engage in the same, court proceedings against them with the objective of attaining justice are cried out. Similarly, “The Trial” depicts the same using the case of K. Ideally; he complains in the court that the offices are corrupt. However, when punishment is issued to the guards assigned to him for having demanded bribes from, he tries to avert their punishment by offering a bribe to the thrasher. Therefore, K himself turns from being an advocate of justice to engaging in acts that lead to injustice. Similarly, people have a difficult remaining in one side of the thin line separating justice from injustice (Thompson, 2017).
In conclusion, the depiction in the “The Trial” by Franz (2015) capturing K’s ordeal confirms the view that there exists a thin line between justice and injustice. Ideally, the first factor that eliminates the significant difference between the two aspects is the factors that amount to injustice and those that do not. Often, some acts can be regarded as not being just in one setting but be viewed as just in another. For instance, K finds it an injustice and criminal for the court officials to be corrupt. However, he sees it fit corrupt the thrasher as a means of setting the two condemned guards free. Moreover, the interpretation of the law, which is the primary basis for defining justice, varies across people. Consequently, what is justice to one person might be regarded as an injustice to another person. For instance, during the arrest, K disagrees with Willen’s description of the role of authorities. In the ensuing discussion, both the two individuals insist that they are right in interpreting the law. Consequently, the chances are that they view and understand justice and injustice from different perspectives. Fundamentally, it is vital to have a clear distinction between justice and injustice to guide people’s activities. Ideally, the distinction helps people support the government in its duties by avoiding crimes. Moreover, there will be support for the courts as well as other institutions involved in the criminal justice system.
Cugueró-Escofet, N., Fortin, M., & Canela, M. A. (2014). Righting the wrong for third parties: How monetary compensation, procedure changes, and apologies can restore justice for observers of injustice. Journal of Business Ethics, 122(2), 253-268.
Da Rocha Costa, A. C. (2018). Marx’s concept of distributive justice: an exercise in the formal modeling of political principles. AI & SOCIETY, 33(4), 487-500.
Feinberg, J. (2017). Noncomparative Justice 1. In Justice (pp. 41-82). Routledge.
Franz, K. (2015). The Trial. Xist Publishing.
Montague, P. (2017). Comparative and non-comparative justice. In Justice (pp. 83-92). Routledge.
Pepper, A., Gosling, T., & Gore, J. (2015). Fairness, envy, guilt, and greed: Building equity considerations into agency theory. Human Relations, 68(8), 1291-1314.
Sherman, B. R. (2016). There is no (testimonial). Justice: Why the pursuit of virtue is not the solution to epistemic injustice. Social Epistemology, 30(3), 229-250.
Thompson, P. (2017). Environmental Justice: International Discourses in Political Economy. Routledge.
Törnblom, K., & Vermunt, R. (2016). Distributive and procedural justice: Research and social applications. Routledge.