Isolation of the Protagonist in The Trial and Nausea
Kafka and Sartre provide effective settings for their novels by presenting their protagonists in isolated environments. Each character experiences very slight contact with other people, and the relationships they do have with the other characters exist at a superficial level.
In The Trial, Joseph K. is placed on trial for an offense about which he is told nothing. As he attempts to discover the reason for his indictment, he experiences a great deal of inner torment and feelings of estrangement from those with whom he comes in contact.
In Nausea, Antoine Roquentin experiences many of the same nauseating emotions which leave him with many questions and few answers. He is also searching for meaning. Although in a different context, Roquentin is much like Joseph K. in that his circumstances in life have led him to feel quite alone.
In each novel, the protagonist observes a stereotypical societal group from which he attempts to be completely disassociated. The protagonist rejects their actions and what he perceives as their mode of thought. Joseph K. attempts to distance himself from the employees of the court at which his trial is taking place and his colleagues at the bank where he works. When he is offered the chance to meet the high officers of the court, he rejects the opportunity because he begins to feel suffocated by the air that surrounds him and is ashamed that he needs the help of the clerks in the court: "He (Joseph K.) realized too painfully the shame of being delivered into the hands of these people by his sudden weakness; besides, even now that he knew the cause of the faintness, it did not get any better but grew somewhat worse instead" (Kafka 68). This is possibly a subconscious reaction to the bleak reality that might be waiting to confront him. It seems that K. would rather face the torment of ignorance than be forced to meet a fate that may or may not be desirable. This event relates directly to...