Kafka uses some interesting tactics in this piece, and I feel like it could be read on many different levels. After re-reading it several times I started to make sense of what he was trying to do.
The word choice of this piece has an intense effect on the way that it is read. From the beginning the descriptions are solid and short, almost cold, in order to reflect the bleakness of the situation. bucket- empty, shovel-useless, stove-cold, trees-rigid. The word "must" is repeated over and over again, which gives you the feel of a man's thought process when balancing on the edge of existence, almost creating a "begging" tone within the narration. The repetition in general, in the dialogue too, reflects this tone. I enjoy Kafka's surrealistic style, and had to look back and check the authors name after reading it. The way that he pairs common events, like going to ask for coal on a freezing day, with almost dreamlike images gives the reader a better sense of the statement he is making through his writing. Like others in the class, I pieced together that he is really discussing how susceptible we are to the influence of others in life. The influence of a single person and the decisions they make can determine, essentially, whether we live or die. The image of the bucket sliding along the ice is clearly a metaphor for this idea.