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"Gewiss," sagte K., "noch besser aber verstehe ich, dass hier ein entsetzlicher Missbrauch mit mir, vielleicht sogar mit den Gesetzen getrieben wird. Ich werde mich fur meine Person dagegen zu wehren wissen." "Wie wollen Sie das tun?" fragte der Vorsteher. "Das kann ich nich verraten," sagte K. (Das Schloss 88) Marthe Robert, in her book, The Old and the New: From Don Quixote to Kafka, argues that the Kafka hero is an inversion of the traditional quest hero: "Unique to Kafka is the fact that the prized object or goal has itself no fixed value. [...] Kafka's hero is the inverse of the traditional quest hero who may be overwhelmed by the trials he must undergo but knows at least the value of the Golden Fleece or the Grail or any other symbolic object worthy of his efforts. K. the Land-Surveyor knows nothing at all about the Castle save that it exists and that apart from himself no one seems much concerned with it" (194). Robert's comparison of the fixed value of the grail or Golden Fleece to the unfixed value of the Castle begs a more important question for a critic approaching Das Schloss: is K.'s goal "the Castle," and, if so, what does that mean? Certainly, K. wants to penetrate the Castle and meet with every official he can. But another important shift has occurred from the traditional quest narrative to Kafka's that Robert does not mention: not only does K. know nothing at all about the Castle, but the "symbolic object worthy of his efforts" has become a place rather than a thing--a place where, in the traditional grail romance, the grail is kept.

September 22
American Association of Teachers of German
The Gale Group, Inc., a Delaware corporation and an affiliate of Cengage Learning, Inc.

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