In the Penal Colony Topics for Further Study
by Franz Kafka

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Topics for Further Study

(Short Stories for Students)

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In literature, irony refers to an instance of something happening that is the opposite of what is expected. How is the official's death an example of irony?

From information in the story, produce a diagram of the execution machine.

Gershom Scholem, historian of Jewish mysticism, has identified Kafka as a neo-kabbalist. Find out what you can about kabala and identify two ways in which it could relate to Kafka's story.

Imagine that in his old age the explorer writes his memoirs and looks back at his own behavior at the penal colony. Which, if any, of his actions does he affirm or regret?

Why do you think Kafka was dissatisfied with the ending to the story? How might it be improved?