Penal - of, pertaining to, or involving punishment, as for crimes or offenses
The Penal Colony. The Punishment Colony. This is a very fitting title for this particular story by Kafka. I started reading this one and there are a couple of questions I have that maybe you guys can help me out with.
The explorer is an interesting character that I don't understand. Since Kafka doesn't name any of his characters in The Penal Colony we are only introduced to him as simply The Explorer. He seems to be the only on with morals. The officer seems so intent on serving his Commandant, even though he seems more devoted to the old one rather than the new one, that all morality seems to fly out the door.
In all of Kafka's stories he seems to be creating his own world. In our world I am sure that a colony would take pleasure in seeing people's death sentences but Kafka writes in a way which makes the reader seem as far away from the world he is writing about as possible, for example, not naming his characters.
Let me take you to a passage on page 150. This is when the officer is talking about how each prisoner takes the punishment from the apparatus." But how quiet he grows at just about the sixth hour! Enlightenment comes to the most dull-witted. It begins around the eyes. From there it radiates. A moment that might tempt one to get under th Harrow oneself." I believe this is one of the most important passages I have read so far in this story. In the most severe forms of torture a human being will be enlightened. Enlightened by what? Do they have a religious experience? Do they finally see the error in there ways? Does anyone find it interesting that the fact that a person is enlightened during their sixth hour makes the officer actually want to get inside the apparatus himself? Also, "It begins around the eyes." This could just be the fact that James Joyce is following me around in life but Kafka has Enlightenment begins in the eyes makes me believe that he did this because of the myth of Oedipus.