Sunday, March 20, 2011
The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka
"As Gregor Samsa awoke one morning from uneasy dreams he found himself transformed in his bed into a gigantic insect. He was laying on his hard, as it were armor-plated, back and when he lifted his head a little he could see his domelike brown belly divided into stiff arched segments on top of which the bed quilt could hardly keep in position and was about to slide off completely. His numerous legs, which were pitifully thin compared to the rest of his bulk, waved helplessly before his eyes."
This paragraph begins our story about a traveling salesman named Gregor Samsa who awakes to find himself transformed into an insect. He briefly lays in bed wondering how this happened to him. His thoughts lead to his job and the fact that he's already late to work. He's never been late in 5 years, so it would look suspicious if he were to be late now. Noticing that Gregor hasn't awakened yet, his mother comes to his door, to which Gregor answers her but notices something rather strange. His voice is changing. His father and sister Grete who also realize he's still home try to enter his bedroom but he locked his door the night before so they couldn't get in.
Gregor eventually gets out of bed when he realizes his boss sent the chief clerk to get him since Gregor was late. However, Gregor still refused to open the door for his family, insisting that he's ill. However, the shocked family can't understand a single word that Gregor says because his voice has changed to that of an insects. Concerned, they call a doctor and a locksmith. Gregor, however, manages to finally open the door himself.
The sudden appearence of Gregor frightens his family and the chief clerk. His father was so upset that when Gregor tried to explain himself, he kicked him back into his room when Gregor got stuck in the doorway and injured him as well. As the novel progresses, Gregor's sister would come into his room and bring him food. She would also clean his room for him as well. His family moved the furniture out as well, trying to give him more room since he liked to crawl around on the ceilings and walls. But Gregor wanted the furniture, so he came out to save a picture. The sight of him made his mother faint and when Gregor came out of his room to follow Grete to help his mother, his father started to throw apples at him, hurting him in the process. This injury, however, makes the family be more accepting of Gregor and they leave the door open.
However, as time goes by, the family begins to neglect Gregor more and more. Grete doesn't bring Gregor food anymore and when they housed lodgers, Gregor scared them to which the lodgers refused to pay the rent for the time they stayed with them. Grete believes they need to get rid of Gregor because he's nothing but a nuisance to the whole family. Gregor realizes shes right and goes back into hiding in his room, waits til sunrise, and dies.
The family is happy but also mourn for his death. They take off work and go for a stroll. Happy with their future to come, they realize their daughter is growing up and need to find her a husband. At the end of their trip, Grete is the first to stand up and stretch.
1. Gregor suddenly changes overnight and doesn't have a clue as to what happened to him. His family is unwilling to help him and neglect him. If a family member of yours suddenly changed, like they were a whole new person and you really didn't like it, would you neglect them? If not, what would you do? If so, why would you neglect them?
2. At the end of the novel, it says Grete is the first to stand up and stretch after the family's stroll and day off work. What do you think this means? Do you think it's in any way significant?