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Before The Law

            In Franz Kafka's "Before the Law", a man from the country seeks admission to the Law. He can see through the open door into the house of the Law but the doorkeeper refuses him entry-and warns him that this is just the first of many doors and doorkeepers, each more forbidding and terrifying than the last.
             But the man is convinced that his salvation lay in the Law and year after year he comes to the door, asking and answering questions, looking for permission to enter. He even tries to bribe and flatter his way in. The doorkeeper takes the bribes but only so that the man will not think he has neglected anything. He is still refused entry.
             Finally, as the man lay dying, he sees a radiance streaming from the gateway to the Law. He thinks of a question he has never asked, and calls the doorkeeper over. Why in all these years has no one else come to this gate? The doorkeeper's answer, "No one else could ever be admitted here, since this gate was made only for you. I am now going to shut it.".
             In "The Hanging of the Mouse", Elizabeth Bishop paints a colorful and dramatic setting and very detailed character descriptions.
             A mouse is to be publicly executed, though there is no indication of what crime he is guilty of. The other animals present, witnessing the mouse's death, seem to have no idea of this either, though it doesn't appear to make a difference to them. Some animals have been wandering about town for hours awaiting the event; others woke up early to be there. As they gather in the town square, the atmosphere appears very subdued, and not much can be heard except for the mouse's cries. .
             After the King's messenger has read the mouse's death sentence, the noose is place around his neck - his struggles being worthless, and the execution is performed rather swiftly.
             Bishop concludes with the image of a cat, clearly saddened at the sight of the lifeless mouse. It's very ironic, because traditionally cats and mice are believed to be enemies.

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