Odradek is… what is Odradek? Well, for starters, it is a creation of Franz Kafka and one of the main characters of a short story called The Cares of a Family Man. Much like other short stories like A Hunger Artist, Kafka leaves the interpretation intentionally open to foster the reader´s imagination and make the dialogue between creator and reader more fluent.

Is Odradek A Mistery Even For Kafka?

Well, this is a perfectly valid question if we take into consideration that the only descriptions in the story of it are perfectly vague. He speaks of the object as being useless but also speaks of it as a broken one that used to have a function and now doesn´t have one anymore. He states in several places that is made of threads of every color and wonders about its immortality. There is a crucial aspect of it that is related to a non-specific existence. This mysterious object is put to contrast the existence of a family man whose mission in life has a definite meaning.

Is the object the representation of what Kafka thinks is unknown to him about life? Is Odradek the materialization of his own doubts and insecurities as an artist? It can be thought of as the body of work he´s been composing throughout his life and is seen by him as useless and always incomplete. This aspect can be directly related to the fact that he had a lot of problems to finish his own writings and much of his work was left unfinished like, for example, The Castle.


Odradek, A Critic To Capitalism

There have been many pieces written about this topic and one of the better-received interpretations is that the existence of Odradek is, indeed, a criticism to capitalism. The items created by the workers are not only alienated from them in terms of consumption, but also in terms of being physically inaccessible for most of them. The idea of Capital Gain introduced by Karl Marx can easily be reflected in this way of regarding something that came out of the hands of the worker but not only is not for him, but also becomes a strange object he or she no longer recognizes.

Another reading of this capitalism criticism is that of useless consumption of commodities. The capitalist world is worried about producing and selling but has nothing to do with the use of the object. To say it in other words, not necessarily the most useful objects are the best-selling ones in the market. May Odradek be Kafka´s view on this subject? Odradek can also be thought as a critique to materialism and objects meaning something by themselves instead of being judged by the effect they have in improving the owner´s life.

Whichever was the intention of Franz Kafka when he wrote the short story, it will continue to bring interpretations by all kinds of professionals and that is what we love of him, how much room is left for interpretation in his work.

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