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Jun 17, 2012

Discussing "A Country Doctor" by Franz Kafka


Kafka's story raises more questions than it answers. The questions and suggestions below are intended for teachers, students, or book discussion groups…. You might want to share your thoughts in the comments. 

Is this story a dream narrative? The plot turns on surreal events. Is the story an example of surrealism? Does it anticipate the surrealistic movement in 20th century art or conjoin it?  To answer these questions, you might identify the elements in the story that make the story veer away from realism towards surrealism. 

Where and why does the story shift from past to present tense? 

What about the country doctor as a literary character? What are his traits, habits, tendencies, preferences, needs? 

The story seems to beg for symbolic interpretation, just as one would interpret dreams in a Freudian or Jungian context. How would you explain the symbolism of  the doctor, the horses, Rosa, the groom, the boy, the parents and sister, the school choir and teacher, the priest?

Are the different characters symbolic of different sides of the self? 

Look for clues concerning sexuality.

Look for clues concerning religious symbolism.

Is there philosophical symbolism present in the story? 

Can the story be interpreted as an allegory of scientific man?

Can the story be interpreted as an allegory for the artist?