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January 30, 2012

Franz Kafka’s “In der Strafkolonie” ["In the Penal Colony"]--1914, Czech Republic

Image Source: http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_bzCOTuEScjw/S8oRWVxf1LI/AAAAAAAAAGc/FhshPG0e_Q4/s1600/penal+colony.jpg

Students of 2011,

Using the direction I provided in some handouts I gave you previously, please type your entry-ticket discussion questions for this reading in the comment box below. These questions will be fair game for the midterm and final exam. In addition to submitting the question to English-blog.com, the question must also be submitted to Turnitin.com. You should also have it written in your Course Journal (collected at midterm and at the final), and have a typed, printed hardcopy to bring with you to class on the day the work is discussed (see syllabus). I will not accept late submissions so mind the deadlines.

Posted by lhobbs at January 30, 2012 11:10 AM

Readers' Comments:

Entry Ticket

Would such an apparatus described in Kafka’s The Penal Colony be used in today’s time? Give both sides, the pros and cons, and compare the apparatus to a punishment that has been carried out in recent times.

Posted by: Amanda Butler at January 31, 2011 03:25 PM

Emmanuel Cruz
Dr. Hobbs
ENG 340
February 02, 2011
Discussion Question
The old Commandant’s way of punishment goes beyond craziness because it does not provide legal representation to the victim. Can this punishment be considered a murderous act instead of capital punishment?

Posted by: Emmanuel Cruz at February 1, 2011 06:18 PM

The officer has an obsession with the machine that is so strong he is willing to give his life for its cause. What do you think caused this obsession and how has that blinded him to the inhumanity of this form of execution?

Posted by: Nicole Natoli at February 1, 2011 10:17 PM

Franz Kafka’s “The Penal Colony”
Discussion Question #3
The officer and the Commandant seem to be obsessed with this torturing device. When they speak about it they describe it in full detail and do not let the explorer miss any information. They even enjoy the fact that the man does not know about the crime that he is being tortured for. Do you feel that the device has become more of a form of entertainment for the officer and Commandant, rather than a form of punishment? Do you think that this is an abuse of power?

Posted by: Tara McLoughlin at February 1, 2011 11:07 PM

Why is it not okay to kill those in penal colonies (or prisons), considering he or she has committed a crime to place him or her there and he or she will not be allowed to enter normal society again?

Posted by: Chad W. at February 2, 2011 01:11 AM

In Kafka’s In the Penal Colony, the officer laments the loss of the “old ways” of the previous commandant. How much of the officer’s devotion to the execution by tattoo is owed purely to his loyalty to his old commander, and how much is it a product of his sadomasochistic nature?

Posted by: Douglas Phillips at February 2, 2011 09:19 AM

The tattoo process in The Penal Colony is supposed to help the prisoner repent for their crime. Why did Kafka choose commandants to be written on the prisoners instead of something else?

Posted by: William Kopnek at February 2, 2011 10:56 AM

Is there an underlying religious connotation in this story? The statue of the Commandant says that he will rise again to rule the people. Though the citizens find it incredulous, the explorer seems to be intrigued by it. Why would the explorer view a torturer in the same light as Jesus?

Posted by: Eric Dirth at February 2, 2011 11:36 AM

In Franz Kafka’s In the Penal Colony, the speaker recounts the stories of the events of the penal colony with a detachment that seems almost unnatural. Do you view the narrator’s tone as simply unemotional and detached to the situation, or do you feel that he has numbed himself over time to the events described? Why do you feel this way?

Posted by: Lindsay Renner at February 2, 2011 12:35 PM

Do you think that the reason why the explorer did not speak up about the execution is because he may have been desensitized to the idea of tattooing . ( In other words, the idea of pain is usually connected to the idea of tattooing.)

Posted by: Amanda Arce at February 2, 2011 01:10 PM

Why is the Officer so set on impressing the Traveler and looking to him for acceptance of the colony’s machine?

Posted by: Natasha Witter at February 2, 2011 01:31 PM

Dana Jennings
Dr. Hobbs
Entry Ticket #3: Kafka
How does the story “In the Penal Colony” reflect the western view of tattooing as a form of torture? Does the condemned man’s impending death via tattoo display the view that once a tattoo is administered, the person’s life is figuratively over?

Posted by: Dana Jennings at February 2, 2011 01:32 PM

Does the scarring of the prisoner’s bodies reflect the scarring of the Traveler’s psyche by the experience with the machine?

Posted by: Jamison Whitney at February 2, 2011 01:40 PM

. The device described in this short story is used to brand criminals with the law they have broken in a way that seems like torture. Eventually, the Officer is put into the contraption and because of a malfunction, is stabbed to death. Is Kafka trying to relay an ironic situation or giving the Officer what he deserves?

Posted by: taylor leonard at February 2, 2011 01:43 PM

Patricia Pothier
ENG 340
DR. Hobbs
1. How does Kafka’s portrayal of the machine reflect his understanding that suffering and misery is inherent to human nature?
2. If suffering is an integral part of human nature, does Kafka’s story determine whether man can accept or reject the pain? Or is suffering a constant that man can only give meaning to?

Posted by: Patricia Pothier at February 2, 2011 01:43 PM

What is the true meaning behind this method of execution? Is there a symbolic quality to condemning prisoners in such a brutal yet elegant manner, and if so, what is the author trying to convey?

Posted by: Greg Robinson at February 2, 2011 01:59 PM

Katie Ganning
Dr. Hobbs
ENG 340
2 February 2011
Entry-ticket 3

1. The Explorer thinks of the machine as a barbaric form of justice. How does the Officer’s dedication to the use of the machine and previous Commandment relate to the acts of barbarism used as justice in cultures today?

Posted by: Katie Ganning at February 2, 2011 02:07 PM

1. What is the significance of The Traveller not letting the soldier and the condemned man ride with him? Do you think that he was justified in his actions and do you think that the condemned man and the soldier will suffer punishment from the colony?

Posted by: Mathew Rodgers at February 2, 2011 02:21 PM


*NOTE* The deadline for this particular assignment has now passed. Any comments listed below are *ONLY* for the reposting of comments that I specifically asked to be revised or are ones from non-student posters. Any 'student' posts below that missed the assignment deadline will not get credit for the assignment.

~ Dr. Hobbs

Posted by: Dr. Hobbs at February 3, 2011 03:18 PM

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