Discussion: “The Metamorphosis” (again)

We again ran out of time for our discussion on Kafka’s “The Metamorphosis,” which benefitted our discussion of “The Yellow Wall-Paper” and “The Cottagette” but still leaves us needing to find class time for a face-to-face conversation about what happens if you should unexpectedly wake up as a giant bug.

To that end, I ask that this discussion focus on the burning questions we have about the story–any aspect of it, and any kind of question, whether for clarification or for discussion. Your comment should raise a question and include a passage (probably longer than a line or two) in which you see your issue at play. If someone raises the same question, you cannot simply add it again–instead, reply to them and push the question further. We will address as many as we can in class.

In the meanwhile, and since you have only re-reading to do, I hope your work on Part 1 of Project #1 is coming along. I’ll post instructions for that work in my homework post for the week. More information then.

13 thoughts on “Discussion: “The Metamorphosis” (again)”

  1. I don’t know if I have any questions left over from reading “The Metamorphosis”… The one thing that I kept thinking while reading this piece was not necessarily that he woke up, and realized that he had turned into a bug, but more so, how his family treated him after his transformation. I put the situation into real life context, and how sometimes people face life changing events that not only alter their life and capabilities, but also affect those around them. We can all imagine what our reaction would be if a loved one suddenly turned into a bug, if someone we cared about, and have known in a particular way, suddenly changed into something that made us uncomfortable, how would we act? Do you shun those that have been good to you and those that you have loved because they have have been handed particular changes and circumstances that make you uncomfortable?
    Many could say that they wouldn’t act any differently toward someone, but in the face of unforeseen circumstances we can learn a lot about our own limitations and prejudices.

    1. I also can’t think of any further questions on “The Metamorphosis,” but I do agree with you on the family’s reaction towards Gregor’s transformation. “Now Gregor’s sister also had to help his mother with the cooking; although that was not so much bother as no-one ate very much. Gregor often heard how one of them would unsuccessfully urge another to eat, and receive no more answer than “no thanks, I’ve had enough” or something similar. No-one drank very much either. His sister would sometimes ask his father whether he would like a beer, hoping for the chance to go and fetch it herself. When his father then said nothing she would add, so that he would not feel selfish, that she could send the housekeeper for it, but then his father would close the matter with a big, loud “No”, and no more would be said.” Here, you begin to get a sense of the impact Gregor’s change has placed on his family. I can say they’re maybe disgusted by his appearance that they wouldn’t even care to eat.

      I believe that many people today would react in the same way if one of their loved ones were to undergo a transformation like this in the story. Many people would dislike to have a burden on them, and that was exactly what Gregor became. His sister used to take him food, but slowly stopped. I personally try not to shun anyone. I think that it’s truly rude and everyone should be treated with respect.

  2. The urging question that I have for The Metamorphosis pertains to Gregor’s father. Why was the father so angry with Gregor? I know Gregor’s dreary condition was unpleasant and not acceptable at the moment but it looked like he just wanted Gregor to die. This is especially seen after the mother fainted after seeing Gregor adhered to a picture on his bedroom wall (Page II, p.28). The father returns home from work to find out what happened to Gregor’s mother and then he chases after Gregor by throwing apples at him (Page II, p.31). The father had filled his pockets with fruit from the bowl on the sideboard and now, without even taking the time for careful aim, threw one apple after another. These little, red apples rolled about on the floor, knocking into each other as if they had electric motors. An apple thrown without much force glanced against Gregor’s back and slid off without doing any harm. Another one however, immediately following it, hit squarely and lodged in his back; Gregor wanted to drag himself away, as if he could remove the surprising, the incredible pain by changing his position; but he felt as if nailed to the spot and spread himself out, all his senses in confusion. The last thing he saw was the door of his room being pulled open, his sister was screaming, his mother ran out in front of her in her blouse (as his sister had taken off some of her clothes after she had fainted to make it easier for her to breathe), she ran to his father, her skirts unfastened and sliding one after another to the ground, stumbling over the skirts she pushed herself to his father, her arms around him, uniting herself with him totally – now Gregor lost his ability to see anything – her hands behind his father’s head begging him to spare Gregor’s life” (Page II, p.31).
    In this scene, the father looked like he was angrier with Gregor than the mother and sister. Although, at the end of the story the sister could not deal with him being in the house anymore, in the beginning of the story she was tolerating Gregor’s condition and trying to accommodate to his wants by cleaning his room and finding out the foods he liked. Furthermore, when his sister, Grete, mentioned that he was enjoying his dinner, the story never mention the father replying back or having conversations about Gregor at the dinner table. Gregor was like a son that the father never had.

    1. Good question! I believe that Gregor’s father anger was generated from his lack of tenderness and love towards his son. The father was an aggressive character, not accepting Gregor’s situation and not even helping to find a solution or knowing what caused Gregor to turn into a gigantic insect. He was fully rejecting to have Gregor at home. He even chased him and went after him instead of helping him. In the contrary, the mother was full of love and hope. However she failed to convince the family to have Gregor taken care of and accepting him as a member of the family.

    2. I think Gregor’s father is denying the fact of the transformation of Gregor into a big bug rather he just wants Gregor to disappear in their life. Therefore, he gets angry every time when he encounters the appearance of Gregor remind him of the existence of Gregor and he tries to avoid by chasing the bug away from his site and even he wants to kills the bug one time by throwing apples heavily.

  3. In the Metamorphosis by Kafka, Gregor has turned into a gigantic insect at the very beginning of the story.
    This doesn’t allow us to know much about the regular life Gregor had as a normal human being except that he was a young salesman taking care of his family.
    The question I would like to arise is, what made his mother fail to cooperate with her husband to take care of their beloved son after he turned into a bug?
    According to this passage “Did you understand a word of all that?” the chief clerk asked his parents, “surely he’s not trying to make fools of us”. “Oh, God!” called his mother, who was already in tears, “he could be seriously ill and we’re making him suffer”. Gregor’s mother was in pain and feeling bad for her son. I believe that she worked so hard to convince her husband to be caring parents and help him out instead of cursing and chasing him.
    Another, point of view is looking to the society of that time where women have little impact in changing facts and contributing in taking actions.
    The father was looking at Gregor as he intended to become a bug and make everyone surrounding him suffer. While the mother sees it as a catastrophe and hopes that Gregor would go back to his normal shape.

    1. Gregor’s mother still wanted to help her son. She however could not bare to look at Gregor’s new appearance. She kept passing out whenever she saw what he looked like. From the onset Gregor’s father was the only one who mistreated him. Perhaps the father was angry because he realized that he would now have to go in search of a job since Gregor would no longer be able to work and support the family. He resented Gregor because now he could no longer stay at home and relax.

  4. My questions is, why the family as a unit did not unite to protect Gregor and make him feel like family after they learned about his predicament? His sister and mother to some extent did what they could. However, his father who had incurred the debt that Gregor was trying to repay was very vicious to him. Even though the entire family eventually turned on him, when Gregor first notice he had transformed into a bug he was still contemplating going to work so that he could continue supporting the family and pay off his father debt. Even in his vermin state Gregor had no intention of disappointing his family. He was still willing to bare the family responsibilities. This is obvious on page 18 when he was speaking to the chief clerk behind his close bedroom door. “I’ll set off with the eight o’clock train, as well, these few hours of rest have given me strength.” “You don’t need to wait, sir, I’ll be in the office soon after you….” Gregor’s father fist sign of cruelty towards Gregor happened on the first day when Gregor was trying to make the chief clerk understand that he was interested in keeping his job. All he succeeded in doing though was alarming the chief clerk. That’s when his father used the newspaper and a walking stick to threaten Gregor and force him back to his room. On page 23 after he got stuck to the door the narrator stated, “then his father gave him a hefty shove from behind which released him from where he was held and sent him flying, and heavily bleeding, deep into his room.” It’s sad that Gregors father was so impatient and cruel to him. It’s as if he forgot so quickly how important Gregor had been to the family. Some parents have unconditional love for their children, Gregor’s parents did not.

    1. I think the family did not unite to protect Gregor after he morphed into a bug because it may seem that it was an embarrassment to the family. There son/brother was the bread winner in the family. To know just one day out of the blue your brother or son is a bug with there being no explanation is weird. As you said you said before, the father became angry and realized he would have to help and pick up the slack to pay the bills. Due to the fact that Gregor was no longer able to provide for his family financially. He was no use to them, all he was was a burden. I felt that Gregor’s father anger was probably a cover up of sadness. Sometimes men, especially from this time and era when this story was taking place, men would not like to show their true emotions and would hide it with anger. His father was probably hurting inside knowing that his only son that he had is gone and there is not a likely chance from him to come back into a human being. He may have looked up to his son and was proud of what he accomplish thus far, for him one day to morphed into an insect. The best thing the family thought to do was to act like he had never existed in the first place to bury their true feelings inside. Considering the less they remember the better.

      1. I had same feeling as Nadine has that how Gregor’s family ignore him like that after all those days when Gregor had worked hard to support his family. As we can see in page 27, ever since his father’s business had collapsed, Gregor “started working especially hard, with a fiery vigour that raised him from a junior salesman to a travelling representative almost overnight, bringing with it the chance to earn money in quite different ways. Gregor converted his success at work straight into cash that he could lay on the table at home for the benefit of his astonished and delighted family.” Also he even had a secret plan to send his sister to the conservatory. He had been working only for his family. Despite his effort in the past, after he turned into a bug, his family eventually turned on him including his sister. His sister did take care of him at first, but his father didn’t even try to understand his son from the beginning. In page 23, he pushed Gregor into the doorway making more noise than ever, and he didn’t care if Gregor got hurt by the door. Even after his family abandoned him into his dark room, he kept thinking about his family’s finance and future. I think if I turned into a bug when I woke up, I think I will be scared and freaked out, but it will be worse if my family turned on me like Gregor’s family did.

      2. I feel it was a mix of emotion for the family. More like disappointment, disbelief, embarrassment, and unanswered thoughts. Gregor’s play a major role in the family financially and since he couldn’t do that anymore he’s more like a burden. This situation just feed the father angry issues knowing he has to step it up. The family already had a struggle, so why add to it, I felt they looked at the situation like that. So why not just move and act like nothing ever happen or exist.

  5. I have so many questions for the Metamorphosis!!! Why is Gregor a vermin in this story? What is the point of him becoming a vermin (besides confusing me and disgusting me with the explicit descriptions)????

    Gregor became a vermin and then family turns on him and then he dies. What is the moral of the story? What is the whole point of the entire story? I understand that Gregor gave everything he had to provide for the family probably eventually losing himself in the process (maybe that is why he became a vermin?) Then his family could not do it in return causing him to wilt and die.

    Is there a deeper meaning to the story that I am missing? I feel like I am missing a big picture of the story but I cannot figure it out.

    PERHAPS this is also an unreliable narration. Maybe the narrator was the delusional one and imagined the whole vermin transformation…

    (Still confused).

  6. A couple of things really caught my attention when I was reading “The Metamorphosis” but what really left me with questions is what was the significants of the number three and the shutting and closing of the doors? I believe that it symbolized rejection and freedom. Another thing is what was the actual cause of Gregor’s metamorphosis? I believe that Gregor has the feeling of being taken for granted by his family. He has a job that he detests only to help his family survive. I believe that he changes into an insect in the story because his life as a human was a waste. One more thing is that I’m not really sure why Gregor’s father would be angry for his transformation. I believe that he is angry because he will now have to help support the family and he cant just stay home anymore.

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