Franz Kafka wrote a short story called “Before the Law” which spans the life of a man waiting for admittance to the law. A gatekeeper stops him and tells him the law is not available but could be available later so he is welcome to wait. He is told he can enter but without permission will face scarier gate keepers. Afraid of something worse he waits for years as he grows old, offering all his possessions for the chance to get in. The gatekeeper never allows the man in and in the end, he dies and learns that gate was designed just for him.

The story is brief spanning just over a page and yet contains a mans life from young man to death from old age which can feel rushed. The story can be read as seeing how the rich gatekeepers of the Law bar entry to the poor and humble. Even though the man offers everything he cannot gain entry to see the Law, this is a metaphor for the life of the poor who toil their entire lives and only make more for those who are wealthy. The Law is not for the poor and if the man got past the rich gatekeeper he would have to face more trials. This shows the struggle for fairness in life and its denial. I would recommend this story as it is quick read and an interesting look at the unfairness of life.


Franz Kafka, “Before the Law” in Short fiction: an anthology, Edited by Mark Levene and Rosemary Sullivan, 203-204. Ontario: Oxford University Press, 2015