one of the qualifications of magical realism that the article gives is that, to the characters, the laws and rules of the world in which they exist is never questioned. the fact that someone can turn into a bug overnight may be undesirable but it can still happen in the world of the characters.
there are times, however, that kafka bends these so-called rules of magical realism. of course, the idea that he can bend rules of a genre before it even existed is a little ridiculous, but he does take a different approach in some respects.
it both ‘the trial’ and ‘the castle’, the protagonists [in each named k.] is in a world that makes no sense to them. in the trial, k. is charged with a crime he never knows the nature of, and spends the rest of his life struggling to manipulate his way through a ridiculous system of courts and lawyers. k. never fully believes in the world he exists in but sees it as unreal and irrational. however, he is the only character within the story that thinks this way, to the others–both his relatives and those within the court–the world in completely rational.the castle is very similar, where k. comes to a country as a land-surveyor and finds himself in a world without rationality. he doesn’t play by the rules of the world and therefore finds himself ostracized.
the protagonist/reader relationship is then brought to the front because we are alongside k. trying to figure out how the world operates in ways that make no sense to us. the world against the protagonist is the most common kafka theme and it becomes even more apparent the more k.’s idea of how the world works differs from how it works within the castle and the trail. kafka must have surely felt isolated from the world if it seemed irrational to him.
i tried thinking of what would happen in ‘people of paper’ if one of the characters was like k. and didn’t buy into it. what if one didn’t accept that their life could be narrated by someone who named themselves after a planet, that they couldn’t go into the sky, that mechanical turtles don’t exist, that people can’t be made out of people, and babies can’t tell the future?