The Role Of Family In The Novel The Metamorphasis

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The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka tells an eerie tale of one man's transformation into a human sized, bug-like creature, and his family's reaction to this. The novel delves into the role of family and the sudden shift in body to the gradual change in thoughts and mind.

When Gregor Samsa, the main character, awoke he found that he was a bug. His reaction to this was somewhat peculiar. Instead of worrying about himself, he was thinking about his job and how much he hated it. He then began to think of how much trouble he would be in if he was late because "[h]e was a creature of the boss's, spineless and stupid." (p 12) It sounds like he is blaming his job for the transformation that happened. Under his current circumstances, he still wanted to go to work, but could not get off his bed. Gregor loves his family very much and realizes he is the sole provider for them.

Even though he was a giant bug, Gregor "hadn't the slightest thought of abandoning his family." Through Gregor's work, he had provided his family with a comfortable life, and wanted very badly to send his sister to school where she could practice the violin. He knows he must work in order for his family to survive.

Gregor's family's reaction to the "new" Gregor was not a positive. On first glance his mother fainted and his father began to weep in what seemed like anger. I believe they were worried about their monetary situation. The mother was absolutely petrified of Gregor, while his father forced him back into his room. Gregor's sister, Grete, attempting to be kind, left some food for Gregor, but when seeing him for the first time she slammed the door in terror, yet opened it because it seemed as if she regretted it. She was the only one who illustrated any type of compassion towards Gregor; this however changed. Grete can no longer stand the site of his bug-like state. What really makes her disgusted with Gregor is when he scares his mother so bad, she faints, and Grete must get her mother's medicine, slamming the door behind her showing her grief. This locks Gregor out of his room putting him in a fearful flurry. His father then strikes out against him, demonstrating his anger towards him, by throwing fruit at him, dealing him a paralyzing blow. His mother how ever illustrates sympathy by pleading with the father not to kill Gregor, changing from the terror she once possessed for him to showing some sort of compassion.

Gregor's transformation into a bug is not a punishment. I believe that is what the family needed in order to get back on their feet. Without this hindrance on the finances, they would not be able to get back into the workforce and be active again. It also brought the rest of the family closer, through the peril of a giant bug in their house. I thought the end was very strange, as Gregor passed away. The family came together with the simple statement of "let bygones be bygones now." (p 52) They then turned their thoughts on to Grete, which Gregor had done all along.

This story is very strange indeed, while expressing the importance of relationship. I believe Gregor sacrificed himself for the betterment of his family, which he had done all along, but had given them a better gift than money alone; the gift was that they could fend for themselves now.