In the Penal Colony

by Franz Kafka

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What is the appropriate penalty for failing to honor your superiors?

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The whole apparatus is pretty grisly. The machine is designed to hold down a prisoner while needles tattoo a particular sentence, or punishment, into the skin of the condemned. I believe that for some offenses the machine will etch the words on the prisoner's body, literally until the prisoner is dead. However, in the case of the prisoner who fell asleep on duty and shouted at his captain, he "will have written on his body: HONOR THY SUPERIORS!"

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