Joseph K. is arrested one morning, apparently victim of a slander.
For instance, Erich Heller--whose writings on Kafka are far from being uninteresting--after a detailed discussion of the parable "Before the Law" concludes: "there is one certainty that is left untouched by the parable as well as by the whole book: the Law exists, and Joseph K. must have most terribly offended it, for he is executed in the end with a double edged--yes, double edged--butcher's knife that is thrust into his heart and turned there twice." (1) Applied to the events of the 20th century, this argument would lead to the following conclusion: if this or that person, or even a few million persons, are executed by the authorities, it is certainly because they must have most terribly offended the Law ...
All the attempts by various interpreters to make Joseph K. guilty of something inevitably hurt against the first phrase of the novel, which simply states: " Jemand musste Joseph K.
It is true that Joseph K.'s arrest seems to be the result of a "slander"--a term which seems to have some analogy to the accusations of "ritual murder." However, the issue of the slander is not pursued in the novel.
unlike the victims of the anti-semitic trial, which were either acquitted (Dreyfus, the Tisza-Jews, Beiliss) or at least escaped capital punishment (Hilsner), Francisco Ferrer was "legally" executed, and thus has a significant common trait with Joseph K. But otherwise there isn't much similarity between their stories.
Joseph K.'s first reaction to the threat is resistance, (individual) rebellion: he denounces, protests and voices, with sarcasm and irony, his contempt for the institution that is supposed to judge him.
If Huld would have asked him to crawl under the bed like in a kennel and bark, he would have done it with joy." (22) Joseph K., on the contrary, keeps his dignity and refuses to submit to those "above."
By proclaiming, throughout the novel, his innocence, Joseph K. is not lying, but expressing an intimate conviction.