Amerika: The Missing Person Franz Kafka and Mark Harman

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Desire and attraction is what gives the characters in the novels we have read individuality, it is what makes them stick out from the rest. Whether it is their naiveity, beauty, or innocence the characters are the center of attention because of those traits they possess. Karl Rossman, Billy Budd, and Mrs. Ramsay are characters that possess certain qualities that make them the center of attention, but the qualities that draw in the desire and attraction are also their biggest faults, which results in their downfall; these characters are foiled by their own characteristics.
Karl Rossman is a naive young man who is coming to America because he was forced to. We can see from the very beginning that Karl has a passive aura that attracts people to him. We get an instance of his passiveness during the first paragraph of the novel, “Karl Rossman, a seventeen-year-old youth who had been sent to America by his poor parents because a servant girl had seduced him and borne a child by him…” (pg. 3). We can see that Karl let a girl seduce him, which is a passive trait opposed to a dominant one, if he was dominant he would have never let himself get into that type of trouble. We can also see his passiveness because he let his parents just send him away; there is no language suggesting he put up a fight. He let his parents treat him unfairly without a word. I came to the conclusion that his passive nature is what attracted the servant girl to him, she knew she would be able to seduce him. His passive attraction resulted in his downfall of getting sent to America with little money and few possessions.
His passiveness attract people, but his trustworthy characteristic does as well. At the beginning of the novel Karl forgets his umbrella on the ...

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... external beauty that first draws people in. For Karl Rossman it is his newness to America that first attracts people. What can be said for all three characters is that their internal characteristics is what keeps the people desiring their attention. Although attraction should be a good characteristic to possess it becomes these character’s foil; they all end up with a negative reaction. We can learn that attraction and desire are not as great as they seem, they can garner negative endings.

Works Cited

Kafka, Franz, and Mark Harman. Amerika: The Missing Person: A New Translation, Based on the
Restored Text. New York: Schocken, 2008. Print.
Melville, Herman, and Warner Berthoff. "Billy Budd, Sailor." Great Short Works of Herman Melville.
New York: Perennial, 2004. 429-505. Print.
Woolf, Virginia, and Mark Hussey. To the Lighthouse. Orlando: Harcourt, 2005. Print.

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