Injustice in the Book of Job and the Trial
Justice can be defined as just treatment or behavior, and it can also be compared to the word fairness. In both The Book of Job by Stephen Mitchell and The Trial by Franz Kafka, there is a lack of justice and fairness. Both books describe a man that is wrongfully accused of something they didn’t do because of a higher power. The difference between these two books is that they are from two different eras, where The Book of Job is from around the 6th century BC and demonstrates an ancient conception of justice and The Trial is from the early 1900’s and is a better example of a modern conception of justice. Though these books are very different in terms of the time they were created in, they both portray a similar conception of injustice that is, for someone to be accused of a crime that they didn’t commit, or they are not aware of.
Josef K is the main character in The Trial, Josef is essentially accused of a crime, and he is unable to prove to others that he is not guilty. He is generally stuck in a society that has fully accepted existentialism for their government. Throughout The Trial, Josef K. is making an attempt to free himself from this false accusation. He repeatedly tries to find out what he was being accused of and to try to prove he is innocent of these allegations, although this never seems to work out in Josef’s favor. Josef was supposedly scheduled for a trial, but was never told where to go and when to go, and when he finally met with anyone they either told him he needs to confess for a crime he didn’t do. In the society Josef K. is living in, it presents the typical ideologies of existentialism, where the court doesn’t have to present to Josef why he was being apprehended, and they don’t have to disclose many other details of the case. This type of society is in place because the government believes that the people don’t have to qualifications and are unable to handle take responsibility for the crimes they commit, but with this type of court system, it always seems to go in favor of the court system, not the defendant, like Josef K.
Throughout The Book of Job by Stephen Mitchell, Job is being tested on his morals by God and The Accuser. Although God knew that Job was the most honorable man, he allowed The Accuser to put Job through these hardships to prove that he had only the best on his side. It is evident, that these tests go against what God says he is trying to promote because they violate Job’s rights and they take away all that Job worked hard for. The Accuser took away Job’s land, animals, property, and family with God’s permission. Throughout the story God tries to prove that Job is devoted to him, but while trying to do that, he puts him through inhumane tests that desecrate his god given rights and deny him the justice he deserves.
When Job finally gives up because he had lost everything he ever had and was being physically hurt by The Accusers test. He curses God and says:
Oh only if God would hear me,
State his case against me, let me read his indictment.
I would carry it on my shoulder
Or wear it on my head like a crown.
I would justify the least of my actions;
I would stand before him like a prince (Mitchell 75).
From this interaction with Job and God, after Job specifically asked to know what he did wrong he still does not know. For Job not to know what he did wrong is an act of injustice itself, God displayed an act of injustice by not giving Job the entirety of his story and making Job believe he did something wrong. This is similar to when Josef K. is accused of the crime of which he does not know he committed. In the book, Joesef K. does not know what to do, this relates to Job, when he is continually punished for something he doesn’t know. Josef K. was informed about a trial, but was not aware of when it was and what to do when he was there, this is when Leni says
“Please don’t ask for names, but do stop making these mistakes of yours, stop being so unyielding, there’s nothing you can do to defend yourself from this court, you have to confess. So confess as soon as they give you the chance” (Kafka, 78). Basically Leni tells Josef K. that there is no way he can plead his case, this demonstrates the type of government that was prevalent in this time period, which was filled with a lack of representation and there was no law that stated a person was innocent until proven guilty.
When comparing the two books they are very similar in some aspects, even though they are from two different time periods. The Book of Job and The Trial both demonstrate a concept of justice that can be described as being of accused of crime, and they were not aware of the crime they were being charged. Also in both books, after being punished for the crime they were unaware of committing, both Josef K. and Job reached a point where they wanted to plead their case and try to prove themselves as not guilty. The only difference between the concepts in the book regards the endings, in The Trial, Josef K.never had a set trial and it seemed as if was prolonged throughout the entire book. At the end of the book Josef K. had barely had a chance to state his case, and he was sentenced to death in front of everyone in his town. In contrast to the ending of The Trial, Job was able to state his case to God, and God allowed Job to regain his earnings and live his life freely.
Both, The Trial and The Book of Job portray a similar concept, this shows when considering that each text was created in very different time periods, they are not very different in terms of injustice. Each protagonist experienced similar hardships and was treated with the same kind of disrespect. Therefore, Job and Josef K. are very similar in terms of lack of injustice and disregard for God-given rights.
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