Khalid is not just another salesman in the factory of sleazy emotional manipulation. Khalid is a riveting protagonist with an array of emotions.
Well, he’s still a human being in this first chapter. Khalid’s main character trait is perhaps his past of being a Muslim and a Middle Easterner who has come to America to sell for a manufacturer of reparation. But he’s about to change that since he and his partner discover a suitcase full of classified documents (all laid out nicely for you to see) about the gas leak that had recently been uncovered at a US Base in Iraq.
So, Khalid’s getting the documents which are somehow related to the mystery incident in Iraq, in an attempt to rescue a woman whom he just met in America. But this doesn’t stop him from wanting to know more about the events in Iraq since his partner is making him go into detail on each and every document he has got his hands on.
Understanding the power of emotional manipulation is key to understanding Khalid’s character. And he isn’t that different from the others. The others have to earn their place through their successful and strong skills of physical and mental combat to win over their rivals and competitors. In their case, they’ve got adversaries who will do anything they can to keep them away from the top of the ladder.
Of course, he’s more unique than his contemporaries and other characters in this short story because it was written by Kafka himself. He keeps you glued to the page as he mixes all sorts of emotions and thoughts and personalities that are similar to each other. His reactions towards almost everything makes the reader feel sorry for him.
Also, it’s a kind of chilling that the real-life Khalid would be in close contact with a real-life Khalid in the real world and yet, the two Khalid would still be enemies and competitorsat times. Their real battle, they don’t discuss it openly or see each other but when they talk about it, they give no space to each other’s influence in their lives.
This is really a true tale that Kafka had to write about, the main protagonist is the one who’s been taken prisoner by the dictator of a small oil-rich nation and he has to sneak back into his homeland and then slowly and steadily survive and rebuild his status as an author, and his standing within the society. How Kafka manages to write this and keep it straight in his head is really mind-boggling and brilliant in a way.
So, it’s interesting how Kafka made Khalid really well and very memorable, if you haven’t read the novel before, it’s still a worthwhile reading because of the uniqueness of this character. I highly recommend you read this short story by Kafka.