Like much of Kafka's work, The Castle is enigmatic and polyvalent. Is it an allegory of the sprawling Austro-Hungarian Empire as it disintegrates into modern nation states, or a quasi-feudal system giving way to a new freedom for the subject? Is it the search by a central European Jew for acceptance and integration into a dominant culture? Is it a spiritual quest for grace or salvation, or an individual's struggle between his sense of independence and his need for approval? Is K. is an opportunist, a victim, or an outsider battling against an elusive authority? Is the Castle a benign source of authority or a whimsical system of control?
Like K., the reader is presented with conflicting perspectives that rehearse the existential dilemmas and uncertainties of literary modernity.