What are the main themes of Kafka's Letter to His Father?

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Kafka wrote a lengthy letter to his father, initially as an attempt to begin reconciliation with him—the man who had caused him immense trauma as a child. Kafka's father was abusive and narcissistic—aggressively punishing and harming him for many years. This abuse haunted Kafka for the rest of his life,...

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Kafka wrote a lengthy letter to his father, initially as an attempt to begin reconciliation with him—the man who had caused him immense trauma as a child. Kafka's father was abusive and narcissistic—aggressively punishing and harming him for many years. This abuse haunted Kafka for the rest of his life, but in his adulthood, he decided that he wanted to try and have a fresh start and forgive his father.

Following a train of thought like most letters do, however, it quickly devolved into anger and bitterness—with Kafka railing at his father for the emotional damage he caused him. The themes in this work, clearly, are bitterness and suffering—as well as the idea of forgiveness, which was attempted, but mainly, in the end, was a critical reaction to his father's actions.

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Franz Kafka wrote a set of letters to his abusive and heavily narcissistic father. The letter was initially an attempt to reconcile with the man who had caused him so much trauma, but it quickly morphed. He spends much of the 47-page letter analyzing his relationship with his father and discussing the reasons why he fears him. He is broken because of the abuse and trauma he suffered at his father’s hands.

The theme of this letter is the criticism of his father’s actions. It is clear that Kafka understands the vital role a father plays in his child’s development and future confidence, since he spends so long decrying the pain and torment through which his father put him. He goes through a long-winded, winding train of thought sequence, bringing up all the painful events he experienced as a result of his father, just to drive the point home.

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The theme of Franz Kafka's letter to his father is dysfunctional relationships between fathers and sons.

Kafka starts out by acknowledging that he is afraid of his father. His explanation of fear—the way Kafka could not think of an immediate answer to justify his fear of his father—will resonate with anybody who has experienced fear of a parent.

Later in the letter, Kafka points out that his father had been too strong, which is indicative of a lifelong struggle for father and son to see eye to eye. It seems that in attempting to raise Kafka to be strong and brave, Kafka's father failed to show his son any of the kindheartedness that he did, inherently, have.

The conclusion of the letter states that Kafka has a significant lack of trust in himself. That mistrust, according to Kafka, was fostered by his father.

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Known as Letter to His Father, the forty-seven-and-a-half-page letter author Franz Kafka wrote to his father in November 1919 became part of his overall literary body of work. The letter was published in 1966 in book form. The themes of the letter are very straightforward and clear, such as the tumultuous relationship Franz Kafka had with his father.

One of the most prominent themes is Kafka's criticism of his emotionally abusive father. Initially, Kafka thought the letter would heal their troubled relationship, but instead Kafka goes into lengthy detail as to why he is afraid of his father. The letter is inherently stream of consciousness in style, as most personal letters are, and it offers a view of not only Kafka's relationship with his father but also of his psychological makeup.

The letter is considered significant—along with his other correspondences, such as those to Milena Jesenská—by literary critics because it showed the personal basis for many of the themes found in Kafka's work, such as identity crises, self-loathing, troubled relationships, abandonment, and hopelessness.

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