An illustration of the capital punishment in the penal colony

Critics who interpret the story as a religious allegory often surmise that the old Commandant represents orthodox religious tradition or the Old Testament.

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As a result, officials in both colonies were forced to draw upon civil gendarmes to bolster security. In the process of dying, however, the condemned man finally understands the nature of justice and his punishment.

An illustration of the capital punishment in the penal colony

For Kant, the colony and the law remain bound a priori i. The machine is cruel, costly, and difficult to maintain, but these are prices which have to be paid if the religion is to survive. Devoted to the memory and ideals of the old Commander, the Officer is obsessed with the machine and what he calls the transfiguring moment of redemption that is given to the victim as he gradually comes to understand the nature of his crime.

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The officer still operates and maintains it but the new Commandant is 15 gradually cutting off the supply of necessary resources in an apparent effort to suspend its use and thereby reform the colony in some unspecified manner. At this point the explorer witnesses the apparatus completely fail, The Harrow was not writing, it was only jabbing, and the Bed was not turning the body over but only bringing it up quivering against the needles. At any time the new Commandant can return to the methods of the former Commandant. And yet, there is one 23 exception to this penal economy, one crime that does in fact have a specific equity with its punishment and that is murder. His prophesized return does not require him to be literally resurrected from the grave: he is his methodology. On the other hand, it is just precisely ultimateness that the new law lacks. In an examination of hundreds of individual dossiers one uncovers many incidents not unlike that involving the Warden Second Class Reydellet and Warden Third Class Rully, who, after an extended and very public drinking binge on the Isle des Pins in , passed out. This shift in mode is only apparent because if the conditions of the system change in such a way that power is threatened the scaffold returns. There was no completion, no absolute or total meaning that would finally expiate the colony.

During his time, he had many supporters and the colony seemed to thrive. The apparatus is a magical device.

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(PDF) Death and the Foundations of Law in the Penal