Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Bucket Rider

Franz Kafka's The Bucket Rider seems to be commenting on the limited control of man as he tries to survive in a world that seems to be governed by chaos. This is evident by the fact that the man only wants coal but is denied in the end by the woman and is left to freeze to death. The world does seem to act around some order for the man could get coal if he had money, but its a chaotic one where his lack of money causes another human being to let him die. I thought it was interesting that Kafka was able to convey this limited control of man right in the very first sentence. The sentence is "Coal all spent; the bucket empty; the shovel useless; the stove breathing out cold; the room freezing; the trees outside the windows rigid, covered with rime; the sky a silver shield against anyone who looks for help from it." From this sentence one is presented with a series of unfortunate events that the man has to deal with. The long sentence and use of semicolons works to link these unfortunate circumstances to suggest that these events are linked together, albeit in a chaotic sort of way. The fact that as the sentence progresses, the scenarios get worse until the man is faced with mother nature itself, serves to suggest that he never stood a chance and that there was no way to avoid the position he has found himself in. In this way, Kafka is able to comment, in one sentence, on the futile nature of man as he tries to struggle to survive in a world governed by chaos.


  1. I agree that this story is about the limits of control people have on their own lives. One thing that I got out of it however, was maybe the narrator was already dead and he didn't realize it, as he seems to be floating on top of his bucket and a simple wave of the woman's apron sent him flying in the other direction. Perhaps the coaldealer is close to death? Maybe this allows him to be able to hear the narrator while his wife can't?

  2. I noticed the use of semicolons as well. I felt like it supported the image of the bucket sliding along without interruption. I wasn't under the impression that the man was dead, i assumed the author was just using surrealistic imagery. That idea can make sense now that i think about it

  3. Is it chaos though? Or a reflection on human kindness and what the desire for money will make people do to each other?

  4. Definitely a good call on the semicolons. It's eerie how they were used to interconnect such desolate ideas. Great analysis!


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