The Metamorphosis (Karen, Maybe, and Alejandro)

Category 1

Question 1 A – What is the significance of Gregor’s nonchalant attitude about his metamorphosis ? He never feels like his life is over ,rather he is still curious about how he can go to work. – Karen Opong

 

When Gregor learns of his odd and bizarre transformation, he seemed  nonchalant because the pressures of human life were stressful. He didn’t mind his transformation because as a human being, he was exploited and depended on by his family, especially his parents. His life was  no longer over but he had to adjust to a new life .The story is somewhat vague because it doesn’t suggest how he might have turned into this insect. There is no indication of why he would turn into one. We know of Gregor as the breadwinner as a  somewhat successful salesman and obligated to repay his parents debt. The pressures of life he had to face were unbearable. Instead of being more concerned of why and how he turned into this bug he says on page 21, “what a demanding job I’ve chosen! Day in, day out, on the road. The stresses of selling are much greater than the actual work going on at head office, and , in addition to that, I still have to cope with the problems of traveling, the worries about train connections , irregular bad good, temporary and constantly changing human interactions, which never come from the heart, To hell with it all.” Gregor is simply tired of life and just rather be a bug on the wall where no one will bother him about anything and detach himself from society as a whole.

Gregor’s first reaction when he discovers he has turned into a bug, is a shock and he thought he was able to sleep it off but it was real. This shock was only for a few minutes .Of course anyone’s reaction would be how am I going to get to work or school but he knew there was no way he could get to work in the condition he was in. Did he really care to go to work ?  Did he really care to live a human life anymore? There seemed to be a battle with himself figuring out how to get to work and complaining about going to work. On page 22 he says, “This getting up early”, he thought, “makes a man idiotic.” If it weren’t for him having to pay off his parents debts, he would have left a long time ago. The pressures of life has taken a toll on him and he simply can’t take it anymore.

 

Question 1B – What is the significance of his family’s reactions? – Maybe Lee Chen

When Gregor’s family first discovered the hideous transformation, the reaction differs from family member.  On page 31, we see that, “His mother…first looked at his father with her hands clasped, then went to steps towards Gregor and collapsed right in the middle…”  Clearly, the mother is shocked to see her son in such a state.  However, the way her body language is expressed “her hands clasped” is somewhat open to interpretation.  One possibility is that she may be clasping her hands to calm herself from the awful situation.  Another possibility might be that she’s clasping her hands as if in prayer – wishing for everything to revert back to normal.  This is plausible because if the mother were truly disgusted, she wouldn’t try to approach Gregor.   

Meanwhile, “His father clenched his fist with a hostile expression, as if he wished to push Gregor back into his room…”(32).  Unlike his mother, Gregor’s father is more direct with his body language and his message.  When one clenches their fist at someone, they see that person as a threat and are mentally preparing themselves for a fight.  Although Kafka combines both the “clenched fists” and “hostile expression” he seems to diminish the perceived threat by following with “wished to push Gregor back into his room”.  It seems odd that two strong gestures are followed by a mere “wish to push” – not punch. Moreover, Kafka ends by painting a completely different picture of the father who “looked uncertainty into the room , covered his eyes with his hands, and cried so that his mighty breast shook”.  While his body language is more direct than the mother’s, there seems to be an internal conflict taking place with Gregor’s father.

Lastly, on page 38, we see that Gregor’s sister is inwardly caring but outwardly frightened.  As she goes into his room to replace Gregor’s food,  “She did not find him immediately , but when she noticed him under the couch…she got such a shock that…she slammed the door shut…However as if she was sorry for her behavior, she immediately opened the door again and walked in her tiptoes…”  Similar to the father, we see this inner-outer conflict of being perceived as a “good/caring” family member despite the fact that Gregor’s appearance is frightening.  Out of all the family member’s, the sister’s reaction is the most humane towards the beginning.  She’s the only one that is brave enough to step into Gregor’s room to feed and clean after him.  Nevertheless, as the story progresses, all of the family members grow to despise Gregor in their hearts and in their actions.

Question 3A – Why did the father react the way he did? What message is kafka trying to send to the reader and how does this story apply to real society? Alejandro Canon-Sandoval

Gregor’s father was a business owner before his son’s metamorphosis. Unfortunately, his business failed, which left Gregor’s father in a state of low morale. After Gregor becomes a bug, his father is forced to return to work. Gregor’s father is very hostile toward him, and he does not help Gregor deal with the problem of his metamorphosis. Like in most of Kafka’s work, the father here is probably a representation of Kafka’s own father. Kafka was verbally abused by his father his entire life, and his father’s presence was always associated with fear and self-loathing. Like in Kafka’s own life, Gregor’s father is unsupportive and actually ended up making Gregor’s situation harder than it already was.

Gregor’s father is overbearing and unsupportive, which could also signify the dynamics of authority in our own society. Authority is a reoccurring theme in Kafka’s work, and The Metamorphosis is no exception. Gregor’s father could also represent how authority always demands more from people, and his hostility could be seen as an illustration of the violent force authority uses to assert itself in our lives.

Category 2:

Questions: Gregor’s inner world

  1. What is important about Gregor?
  2. Do you think that Gregor is losing his human attributes while living as a beetle?
  3. What is the significance of Gregor not wanting to be late despite his appearance?

The second category of questions refers to Gregor’s own mind and inner struggles. In contrast to the first category, these questions are only interested in Gregor’s interactions with himself. All three of these questions focus on Gregor’s personal attributes and his mental state in different situations.

Category 3:

Questions:  Later reactions in the story towards Gregor

  1.     What is the significance of Gregor’s father slamming the door on him?
  2.     What do the tenants stand for?
  3.     What is the significance of Gregor’s family leaving the home Gregor lived in at the end of the store?

While the first question could also fit into the 1st category, we decided to stick this one here.  All of these questions still focus on the actions of specific characters in regards to Gregor.  Questions 2 and 3, however focus more towards the end of the story which is why we grouped them together.  Broken down this way, we can see how the reactions of these characters changed throughout the story

Question Hierarchy: The Metamorphosis

Michael Rosilio

Nikketa Singh

Simone Amar

The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka, tells the story of Gregor Samsa, an ordinary man who one day wakes up to be an insect. This unfortunate and absurd event leads to Gregory’s alienation from humanity. His unnatural transformation creates tension in the Samsa’s household and affects those around him. Despite their terrifying reactions, Gregory’s transformation does not seem like anything out of the ordinary and majority of the characters are not surprised by this event. For our class project we’ve decided to focus on the reactions and attitudes of the characters in The Metamorphosis. We’ve selected three questions that depict the reaction of Gregor’s boss, the family’s maids and Gregor himself. In doing so, we were able to comprehend that the reactions from each character all held different significant meanings.


We’ve organized our three questions by the order that they’ve appeared in the story. Our first question, answered by Michael Rosilio focuses on the embodiment of Gregory’s boss in today’s society, along with his reaction to Gregory’s transformation.


Is Gregor’s boss an archetypal character in our society?

Gregor’s boss symbolizes the classic shrewd businessman in the working world- which also symbolizes what ties Gregor to his misery and terrible life. Gregor is always in a hurry which also contributed to the misery. Gregor’s boss may be seen by some as an archetypal character in our society and by others he may not seem so. Gregor’s boss criticizes and talks down to his employees consistently and instills fear in everyone that works for him. However, on the other hand the workplace is changing in today’s society to be more of a relaxed environment and very team oriented. Although Gregor’s boss acts all tough- once he sees Gregor transformed he runs away immediately.

 

Our second question, answered by Nikketa Singh analyzes specific quotes that depicts the reaction from the Samsa’s maids.


Why is the first maid on her knees and begs to leave but the second maid said she “has no fear”?

After finding out about Gregory’s transformation the family’s cook immediately begs to leave while their servant girl begs to be confined to the kitchen. On the very first day of Gregory’s transformation the family’s cook Anna gets on her knees and begs his mother to let her go. It’s not completely clear how much she knew but it becomes apparent that she’s terrified of Gregory. “When she said goodbye about fifteen minutes later, she thanked them for the dismissal with tears in her eyes” (41). It seems as if she’s extremely grateful when she is allowed to go and promises not to tell anyone about Gregor’s transformation.

After the dismissal of Anna, the family’s servant girl “begged for the privilege of being allowed to stay permanently confined to the kitchen” (46). She also wishes to open the door in answer to special summons only. It is clear that she’s terrified of Gregor’s transformation and she spends most of the time locked in the kitchen. She’s an extremely frightened young woman scared that Gregory might possibly hurt her. Eventually she’s let go of and the Samsa’s hires a cleaning woman.

The new cleaning woman is describe as “a huge bony cleaning woman with white hair flying all over her head” (55). The cleaning woman becomes the only character that isn’t afraid of Gregor’s transformation and even attempts to play with him. The text states that “This old widow, whose strong bony frame had enable her to survive the worst a long life can offer, had no real horror of Gregory” (57). Since she had experienced the worst in life, Gregory was no horror to her. This explains why she isn’t afraid of Gregor and sees him as the real Gregor, and not for what he has become. She’s also the one who disposed his body after he’s found dead and for her to do this is clear indication that she was tough. This also explains why “she has no fears”.

And finally our third question, answered by Simone Amar concentrates on Gregory’s personal perspective on his transformation.

What’s so special about Gregor’s lax attitude toward his metamorphosis?

As aforementioned, we observe the reactions of two antagonistic characters in Kafka’s the Metamorphosis, Gregor’s boss and his maids. Each character of this tale responded to his transformation in different ways. This time, we hone in on the main character of this story- Gregor. By looking at his personal perspective of this event, thus we begin to understand why he behaved the way he did, which was influenced by those who surrounded him.
As Gregor’s transformation progresses through the tale, we notice something significant about his reaction to this bizarre situation. When he wakes up to discover that he has turned into a disgusting, large insect, he is evidently in shock but instead of focusing on what he has become, he turns his attention to something as mundane as the weather.
During that scene, Gregor is attempting to prevent his metamorphosis from affecting the routine life of the people around him. He locks himself into his room, where he is shielded from the outside world to conceal the horror of his appearance. While his reaction is odd, we ask ourselves what if he had reacted as we would have expected him to (such as panic and hysteria)? Would that have resolved anything or made his situation any less incomprehensible or irresolvable? No, it wouldn’t have. Hence, his effortless reaction, or non- reaction makes sense within the context of this Kafka-esque universe.


We also learn an important lesson about Gregor’s character from his reaction. The first is that of acceptance. He obviously did not have a choice at that point and his weird metamorphosis was completely out of his control. Another thing we extract from his lax attitude is his extremely unselfish character trait. His actions were largely taken for granted by his family. Kafka was emphasizing on the common practice of selfless actions going unappreciated through his story of Gregor and his family. One way in which Gregor was unselfish was the fact that he was the breadwinner of the family. “I must make sure that I’m out of bed before it strikes a quarter past seven. Anyway, by then someone from work will have come to check on me…” (340). Most people would generally freak out and try to figure out how they woke up and why they’ve been transformed into a giant insect. However, in Gregor we only see him trying to protect his family from what has happened to him and continue to provide for them.  

In conclusion, the reactions from the characters in this story all held different significant meanings. After seeing his transformation Gregory’s boss immediately leaves, one of the maid asked to be fired, while the other one is confined in the kitchen. However the cleaning lady who’ve experienced the “worst” in life is the only character who isn’t afraid of Gregory’s transformation. In terms of his family, which he provided for, his work went unappreciated. When he was going through this strange and frightening experience, his family could not comfort him, rather they killed him more on the inside. This is evident in his family’s reactions to his predicament. Gregor’s mother, who Kafka does not give much insight on, tends to ignore Gregor as if he does not exist even though we see that she is heartbroken by this travesty. His father also, although compassionate, does not want to deal with what has happened. They continue to go about their lives as if nothing is wrong. “During the first two weeks, his parents couldn’t bring themselves to see him…” (353). His sister on the other hand, with whom he had been closest to, brought him food every day. “He never would have guessed what his sister, in the goodness of her heart, actually did.” (351). By focusing on the treatment Gregor has received from these characters we’re able to further understand why Gregory himself, reacted the way he did.

 

Categories:

 

  1. Literary styles from the text
  1. What literary devices are evident in the story?
  2. How does the anxious dreams foreshadows Gregor’s life?
  3. What emotion does Kafka try to evoke from the reader- do you think he wants us to feel sympathy for Gregory or something else?

 

We decided to put these questions together because they all evoke some sort of literary style.

 

  1. Gregory’s household and family
  1. What is the significance of the view from Gregor’s room?
  2. What is the importance of Gregor’s family? What role do they play?
  3. What can be concluded about a family who celebrates a family member’s death.

 

We decided to put these questions together because the all pertain details concerning Gregory and his family. By putting them together we were able to further analyze Gregory’s perspective and his family decision.

 

ENG 2850 Metamorphosis Group 5 (Chris, Daniel, Akrita)

Category A – Family Dynamics

 

  1. What is the significance of the relationship between Gregor and his sister?

 

  1. How does the relationship between Gregor and his father affect his life as a bug?

 

  1. When Gregor got accused of attacking his mother, was it because he had “anti-mom” tendencies in the past? What can be revealed about someone who accuses their child of something they didn’t do?

 

  1. What is the significance of Gregor’s family leaving the house?

 

Logic for this order / grouping: We decided to group these four questions together because they were all related to Gregor’s familial relationships. We ordered the questions in this way because Gregor’s sister was the first person to have any real interaction with him after his transformation because she was the one who brought him food initially. We then put the next questions together (2 and 3) because both these questions address Gregor’s relationship with his parents who we learn more about after Grete is introduced. Finally, the last question addresses how the family functions after Gregor dies and what they become without Gregor.

 

Category B – Significance of Becoming a Bug and Importance of New Behaviors (The Group we chose to address)

 

  1. What is the significance of Gregor becoming a bug (not any other creature or animal)?

 

  1. What is the significance of Gregor straying away from his once favorite food of milk towards rotten food once he is transformed?

 

  1. 3. What does the transition of the food that Gregor eats do to his personal feeling of self?

 

Logic for this order / grouping: We grouped these three questions together because they all addressed Gregor’s habits as a bug and the struggle he has with his human mind inside of his bug body. The significance of Gregor becoming a bug and not another creature was listed first because that is the base question of the group that caused us to address the other two questions. The next question regarding milk and rotten food was put in the middle because it addressed Gregor’s initial habits right after he was transformed where he still had most of his human mind in his new bug body. Finally, the last question builds upon the second question by scoping into how Gregor’s new behaviors affects his mindset and mental health.

 

Introduction: Metamorphosis by Kafka is clearly a story in which every action has some serious significance that proves something deep within the nature of interacting humans. Gregor becoming a bug has more significance than the fact than him just shrinking in size and growing more legs. Gregor diverting to different types of foods and developing changing tastes represents more than just changing taste buds. Gregor’s sense of self changes with the way the course of his life changes–and it’s due to the factors around him that give the extent to self worth that he has. This novel is all about how life was not only just changing, but how every change symbolized something more than just physical changes. Every physical change that occurred in Gregor’s life was put in the story for a reason that Kafka intended.

 

Question 1 Answer: Gregor’s family dynamics involve Gregor being the backbone of the family, in which everyone is weak and somehow dependent on him. Eventually though, when they don’t need him, they end up turning their backs on Gregor. “At that time Gregor’s sole desire was to do his utmost to help the family to forget as soon as possible the catastrophe that had overwhelmed the business and thrown them all into a state of complete despair.”  During hardship,  He had constantly lived his human life thinking that he had a family he needed to support, but his family never seemed to want to return the favor. The relationships he had with his family members were all relationships that were noteworthy. His father even accused him of the awful act of attacking his mother. Instead of treating his son like a part of the family, Gregor was alienated on multiple occasions. “He must go,” cried Gregor’s sister, “that’s the only solution, Father. You must just try to get rid of the idea that this is Gregor. The fact that we’ve believed it for so long is the root of all our trouble.” His sister with his relationship was summed up quite shortly here. She is willing to blame all of her family’s problems on the fact that they had hope that Gregor’s presence was still around. It’s a shame that she associates negativity with the hope that her brother is still alive, well and in her presence. The dynamic of this family is clearly very skewed and Gregor doesn’t have anyone that he can rely on in the long run.

 

Question 2 Answer: There are two points of significance that we came away with regarding Gregor’s transition from his once favorite food of milk to rotten food. When Gregor first sees the Milk placed by his door by Grete, he is described as “laughing with joy” and “immediately dipping his head almost over his eyes down into the milk” (37). This is his natural instinct towards milk when he was still a human and showed that at this point of his transformation Gregor still had much of his human conscience and behaviors inside of him even though he was already one hundred percent a physical bug on the outside. After his initial instinctive positive approach towards the milk, he comes to a realization that the milk doesn’t appeal to him anymore physically. This is due to the fact that he is already a bug and that many of the things that once appealed to Gregor as a human no longer appeals to him anymore because of his new form. We can see throughout the story that Gregor shifts from his human behaviors to more and more bug behaviors such as crawling through spaces in his room and eating rotten food, but his mind never fully becomes one with his insect body because even at the end of the story Gregor still wants to protect the picture of the woman in fur in his room and is attracted to Grete’s violin music and desperately wants to tell her of his plan to send her to music school.

The other point of significance from the milk and rotten food is the symbolism they provide. When Grete noticed that Gregor didn’t touch the milk, she brings him a selection of new food. “To Test his taste, she brought him an entire selection, all spread out on an old newspaper” (39). “And out of her delicacy of feeling, since she knew that Gregor would not eat in front of her, she went away very quickly and even turned the key in the lock, so that Gregor could now know that he might make himself as comfortable as he wished” (39). These were two quotes that described Grete’s actions towards Gregor a few days after his transformation and shows that Grete still considers Gregor her caring brother regardless of his physical appearance. However, as time passes, Grete and Gregor’s parents get tired of taking care of him and no food is brought to him by his family members even though Gregor is hungry. The lack of food shows the attitude Gregor’s family members have towards him compared to their attitude when he first becomes a bug. Instead of treating Gregor as their son or brother, the family members see him more and more as the insect he actually becomes and becomes detached with Gregor with each passing day. The transition from milk to rotten food represents Gregor’s transition from his human mind into the new mind that will fit his new body while the presence of food symbolizes the care that Grete and his parents show towards him at the start of his transformation, but also represents their shifts in attitude once the food isn’t present anymore.

 

Question 3 Answer:  As Gregor’s shifts his likings towards rotten food, an internal transition occurs. There is the famous saying that, “you are what you eat”.  Gregor no longer indulges in the delicacies of humans, rather he prefers the raunchier stale items. The rotten food serves as a function towards Gregor’s feeling of self. Gregor’s new found preference of food dehumanizes him, essentially breaking any tie he has with humanity. Gregor describes, “the fresh food, by contrast, did not taste good to him. He could not even bear the smell and carried the things he wanted to eat a little distance away” (39). Gregor is so turned off by human food that he has to move away from it, which would be the normal reaction for a human to turn away from rotten smelly food. He has gone through a revolution in that now what he used to think is disgusting is now delectable, and vice versa. This shift in food preferences illustrates Gregor’s metamorphosis in a deeper way. Of course there is the physical side where Gregor is a bug, but what is more important is his conscious. Thoughts and the mind are systemic in that they are the root for all actions. Once Gregor attains this shift in his beliefs, his entire character changes as he finally actualizes himself as a bug.

 

Conclusion: There are subcategories to the metamorphosis that Gregor goes through. Each one acts as a segway to the next, and without the previous step, the next one cannot be attained. First Gregor physically becomes a bug. Even though he sees himself as such, he still feels human. Gregor still worries about going to work, amongst other things. But his psychological feeling of human self cannot last for very long. Eventually Gregor’s instinctive animalistic virtues grow within his subconscious as he begins to develop certain attributes of a bug. This can be seen when Gregor deters from his favorite drink in favor of rotten cheese. Though he may still have all the memories that make up Gregor, his values have taken a strong discourse. Gregor cannot control his newfound desires. As this happens, Gregor’s personality as a whole incurs a major shift. He is dehumanized by his new desires, which causes his psyche to also change. Gregor is no longer a human because he is physically a bug, but more importantly is also consciously a bug. Everything that makes up Gregor’s personality has changed, and therefore he now experiences life through the lens of a bug.

 

Category C – Remains of Human Characteristics and Significance

 

  1. What is the significance for Gregor still wanting to catch the train after he wakes up as a bug?

 

  1. When Gregor is listening to the violin music being played by Grete, what about the violin music drew him towards it? What can be concluded about the effect of music?

 

Logic for this order / grouping: We grouped these two questions together because they addressed the human habits that Gregor retained even after his physical transformation into a bug. The order for these two questions were based on the chronological order the events were introduced in the book with Gregor thinking about his missed train ride at the start of the story when he wakes up not feeling too well and with the violin music being played towards the end of the story when he reveals himself to the three borders.

Family Dynamics in The Metamorphosis

Rong Zeng
Zachary Tashiro
Anna Christ
Stanley Chow
Franz Kafka’s novella, The Metamorphosis, portrays a traveling salesman named Gregor Samsa who supports his family financially prior to his transformation into a giant insect. The short story focuses on family and social dynamics, in other words–how the relationship between Gregor and his family, and Gregor and his manager are altered after his transformation. We decided to divide our questions up into the categories of family and social dynamics, hypothetical, and biology, and opted to delve into the category regarding family and social dynamics. In doing so, we hope to gain a better understanding of the relationships between Gregor and each member of his family to ultimately answer why it is that each relationship gradually dissolves.

Family and social dynamics
How does Gregor’s transformation alter the dynamics of his family?
What is the significance of Gregor’s regimented job?
What is the significance of the family replacing their maid with a cheaper one?
What is the significance of Gregor’s sister’s sweeping sessions?
Biology
What is the significance of the setting?
What is the significance that Gregor is completely indifferent to the fact that he’s become a cockroach?
Hypothetical
What if instead of an animal, his gender changed. How would the story be different?
What if Gregor’s race changed, how would the story be different?
How do animals play a role?

How does Gregor’s transformation alter the dynamics of his family?

Prior to Gregor’s transformation, Gregor worked as a traveling salesman to support his mother, father, and sister. Gregor wakes up one morning to see himself transformed into a giant insect, as he tries to roll over and and realizes that he cannot, he notices that he has overslept and missed his train to work. His mother, concerned that he will be late for work, knocks at his door. Gregor attempts to answer his mother, but finds that his voice has changed and this elicits worry from his sister, Grete, who begs him to open the door. However, unaccustomed to his new “form,” it takes mighty effort for Gregor to get off his bed and open the door. By then, the chief clerk has shown up to remind Gregor of the consequences of being late and notes that Gregor’s recent work has been unsatisfactory. Gregor protests and says he will open the door soon, but no one on the other side of the door can understand what he is saying. Eventually, he opens the door and his appearance causes his mother to faint, the manager to run from the apartment. Gregor takes off after his manager, however Gregor’s father chases him back into his room with a cane and a rolled up newspaper then locks the room.
We see right from the start that Gregor’s transformation alters the dynamics of his family negatively. His parents look at him with disgust, regardless of the fact that he is their son and later on we see that his sister, Grete, also begins to despise him. His father is forced to work again to support the family financially and his mother wants to see Gregor as her son, but her fear and revulsion of Gregor’s transformation is too much. Grete initially does try to take care of Gregor by feeding him and sweeping his room because they once had a close relationship, despite that she is quite disgusted by Gregor. However, Grete grows to despise Gregor because of the burden his existence places on each member of the family. She tells their parents they have to get rid of Gregor or else they will all be ruined. Their father agrees and wishes that Gregor could understand them and leave on his own. Unbeknownst to them, Gregor does understand and he dies in his bedroom.

What is the significance of Gregor’s regimented job?

The only reason Gregor took this job as a traveling salesmen was because he father’s business failed and Gregor had to support the family financially. Gregor takes this role as the money-maker for his family without complaint because he knows that’s what he must do even though he doesn’t like it. We can infer this from the story when Kafka writes, “if it weren’t for my parents’ sake, I’d have quit ages ago” and “once I’ve got together the money to pay off my parent’s debt to him…I’ll do it for sure” (p.22). Money is a big concern for the Samsa family, and Gregor is constantly thinking about it. Having such a regimented job is important for Gregor and his family, since they depend on Gregor incomes. This was the family’s only means of income, so when Gregor transforms and can no longer go to work this means the family no longer has money coming in. Kafka writes, “already during the first day his father laid out all the financial circumstances and prospects to his mother and to his sister as well” (p.41). The father and Grete have to both start working to make up for the loss of Gregor’s income, and this still isn’t enough. The family even takes in a few boarders to make some extra money, which then ends in an argument with the borders once they discover Gregor. The family depending on Gregor’s job to support them, once he transformed it put the whole family in financial trouble that they could not escape until his death, when they no longer have to pay for his living and their jobs had promising futures.

What is the significance of the family replacing their maid with a cheaper one?

In The Metamorphosis the significance of the final maid is how she is able to interact with Gregor. In the story she is an elderly woman who joins the family after the last maid quits because of Gregor. However this new maid is the only character in the novel who is able to face him without any fear. In the story the original maid was unable to stand up to Gregor and was constantly bullied by him. The original maid was someone who was constantly terrified by Gregor. By opposition with the charwoman she is someone who is brutally honest and blunt along with being able to stand up to whatever state Gregor is in without any fear. Although the charwoman isn’t a very nice person, she likes to look upon Gregor and laugh at him. As someone who does not fear his appearance as a bug she is able to talk to him without being afraid and running away, because of this, the charwoman becomes one of the few people who actually acknowledge Gregor without resenting him like his sister or family do. Her major importance is when Gregor dies. Since the Samsas cut her off while she is explaining how she got rid of the dead body, we are left with many questions as to how she was able to transport the carcass without anyone seeing.

What is the significance of Gregor’s sister’s sweeping sessions?
In Franz Kafka’s The Metamorphosis, Gregor’s sister Grete acts as his final connection to his family after he is turned into a bug. After Gregor’s transformation, Grete feeds him with a bowl of milk and some bread. In addition, she removes the furniture from Gregor’s room in order to better accommodate his new insect form. Unlike the rest of the Samsa’s, Grete didn’t think that Gregor’s worth resided only in his economic benefit to the family. Instead of planning to get rid of him, Grete chose to feed and comfort him, an act showing her acknowledgement of his humanity. Grete and her sweeping sessions become a bridge between Gregor’s desire to live and his family’s need to survive. Before his transformation, Gregor’s purpose in his family was to provide for them financially. When he lost the ability to work after turning into a giant insect, he also lost his role in his family as the breadwinner. By regularly checking in on him despite his lack of purpose, Grete prevents Gregor from losing one last thing, his identity as the son of the family and as Grete’s brother. If Grete had decided not to do this, he would have died much quicker, as the rest of his family had already rejected him.

In conclusion, we divided our questions into three categories: family and social dynamics, hypothetical, and biology. We chose to label the other two categories as hypothetical and biology the questions cover a different aspect of the text. The hypothetical category covers the what-if questions and prompts us to think about how the story would be different if one aspect changes. On the other hand, the biology category makes us think about the significance of the biological aspects already in the story. All-in-all, the questions of each category give us a general perspective of The Metamorphosis and help us think deeply and understand the text.

The Metamorphosis – Group Essay

Erick Cumbe

Philip Yusupov

Steven Schwartz

Zhongyu Zhang

 

In Franz Kafka’s story titled ‘The Metamorphosis’, the reader is introduced to a man named Gregor who works as a traveling salesman. The main focus of the story is Gregor’s transformation from a man into an insect and how he and his family deal with the rather unusual circumstances they have been plagued with. As part of our class project, we selected four questions that we thought would provide us with the opportunity to learn more about Gregor through our own interpretations of events or ideas that are not straightforward. In doing so, we are able to understand the significance of occasions and ideas as to how they relate to our own selves.

 

Our first question, answered by Steven Schwartz, looks into the significance behind why Gregor’s family did not attempt to find a cure for him after he turns into a bug. The answer provides a unique view into Gregor- through the abilities of his family. We see that Gregor provided his family with so much, that they became unable to take care of themselves.

 

Why doesn’t Gregor’s family try to find a cure for him?

 

After turning into an insect, Gregor’s family decides to leave him as be and shut him off from their world. They alienate him which ultimately leads Gregor to want to die. Interestingly, one does not have to put too much effort to realize that Gregor’s family does absolutely nothing in the way of curing him. While this may seem odd at first, a closer examination into the actions of Gregor’s parents and sister shows that they simply had no drive to do anything- especially not work hard and find a cure for their breadwinner.

 

As the start of the story, we see that Gregor’s entire family depend on him. They rely on him for the food they eat, the home they sleep in and everything in between. As a result, we can conclude that Gregor’s family simply were not capable of doing a lot on their own.

 

This inability can be found in certain subtleties in the story. For instance, now that Gregor is unable to work and provide for his family, they resort to renting out space in their apartment to people who need a place to stay. While this idea may seem like a good way of making ends meet, we see that the family is unable to keep their apartment in good condition- a task that should be relatively simple when compared to all the things Gregor used to do for them. We see this inability to keep the apartment clean when one of the lodgers gets angry and declares: “… considering the disgraceful conditions prevailing in this apartment and family I immediately cancel my room.”  The very fact that they can’t even manage to keep a few rooms in their house clean and in good condition, shows just how incapable they actually are.

 

As a result of their proven incapability in doing simple things (take care of their home) the fact that they didn’t even try to help Gregor makes sense. It’s not that they didn’t want to, but rather they simply couldn’t.

 

Next, being that the above question allowed for us to delve into why Gregor’s family did not try to help him, we look into what Gregor’s relationship with his family is like. In his answer, Philip Yusupov discusses the relationship Gregor had with each of his family members.

 

What’s the relationship between Gregor and his family?

 

Gregor is the only one working in the family before his transformation. Dad failed to support the family. Gregor feels responsible for his family and takes his role very seriously. Dad attacks Gregor in different ways and being aggressive towards him. Mom tries to protect Gregor, but she ends up being not very successful in this. Gregor’s sister seems to be the closest relatives to him. Gregor was even trying to pay for the music classes. However, after Gregor’s change, the family completely abandoned him. To sum up, I feel that the relationships between the family and Gregor are distanced and cold.

 

Moving forward, now that we know a bit more about Gregor’s relationship with each of his family members, we decided to move along to the fuzzy, unclear characteristics illustrated regarding Gregor’s dead insect body. In answering this question, Zhongyu Zhang compares Gregor’s character to other characters found in books by Kafka. In doing so, we see that the ambiguity behind Gregor’s corpse is typical of Kafka.

 

What is the significance of the ambiguity behind Gregor’s corpse?

Gregor is a very typical character of Kafka. He was alienated in his life. He worked hard tried to feed his family but cannot get even a little respect. In this story his transformation didn’t change any of his situation.  He was still worried about train schedule and struggled with his small legs. The second maid his family employed she doesn’t have any fear of this “thing”. That points that is was not his transformation put him in this tragic situation. His death might be a release. Kafka didn’t put much passage on his death. Gregor was nothing but negligible in the society. His sister who was accounting on him felt happy on his death. His parents could start a new chapter of life. But only Gregor himself knew how much he suffered which had to finished with death.

 

Lastly, we felt as if the final necessarily part in understanding Gregor and who he was would be appropriately executed if we talk about the reaction his family had to his death. When answering the question of the odd reaction Gregor’s family had to his death, Erick Cumbe points to the fact that his family had already started to act as if he didn’t exist since his transformation. In essence, the response his family had makes good sense.

 

Why do you think Gregor’s parents and sister are unfazed about his death in the end?

Gregor’s parents and sister are unfazed about Gregor’s death in the end because they didn’t really care for him at that point. They would disregard Gregor and basically make him feel that he wasn’t part of the family anymore. Which in a way makes sense because of the change that happened to him. Gregor noticing this, realizes that living doesn’t mean anything anymore. Gregor living doesn’t benefit his family, which is why he dies with no regrets because he’s no longer a burden.

 

By answering the questions above, we are able to obtain a better understanding and idea of who Gregor was and how he impacted his family. While our answers are based off of information found in the text, as part of the nature of the questions, we used our own analysis to find the significance in the ideas raised and questioned in each of the four questions. It is through doing this text-based answering that we were able to in a sense ‘follow’ Gregor through his life and get to know him better. The order in which we chose to ask the questions follows Gregor’s life in a way that makes sense chronologically.

 

Our other two categories are as follows:

 

Category 2: Gregor’s Transformation

Questions:

  1. What does the randomness of Gregor’s transformation represent?
  2. Did Gregor deserve to be transformed into a bug?
  3. What does Gregor’s death represent?

We put these questions together mainly because they all focus on Gregor’s transformation from human being to insect. We thought that doing so would allow for us to obtain a better understanding of the situation Gregor found himself in now that he is an insect.

 

Category 3: Understanding the Story

Questions:

  1. How would the story be different if Gregor had transformed into a different animal?
  2. Why is Gregor so focused on time?
  3. Do you ever feel like you’ve suddenly woken up in the body of an ugly critter? If yes, how so?

We categorized these questions together for the purpose of understanding the story of The Metamorphosis better. These questions all cover a different aspect of the story, and can potentially be transformed into long, highly analytical answers which would really obtain a better understanding of the story.

 

The Metamorphosis – Getting to Know Gregor

Erick Cumbe

Philip Yusupov

Steven Schwartz

Zhongyu Zhang

 

In Franz Kafka’s story titled ‘The Metamorphosis’, the reader is introduced to a man named Gregor who works as a traveling salesman. The main focus of the story is Gregor’s transformation from a man into an insect and how he and his family deal with the rather unusual circumstances they have been plagued with. As part of our class project, we selected four questions that we thought would provide us with the opportunity to learn more about Gregor through our own interpretations of events or ideas that are not straightforward. In doing so, we are able to understand the significance of occasions and ideas as to how they relate to our own selves.

 

Our first question, answered by Steven Schwartz, looks into the significance behind why Gregor’s family did not attempt to find a cure for him after he turns into a bug. The answer provides a unique view into Gregor- through the abilities of his family. We see that Gregor provided his family with so much, that they became unable to take care of themselves.

 

Why doesn’t Gregor’s family try to find a cure for him?

 

After turning into an insect, Gregor’s family decides to leave him as be and shut him off from their world. They alienate him which ultimately leads Gregor to want to die. Interestingly, one does not have to put too much effort to realize that Gregor’s family does absolutely nothing in the way of curing him. While this may seem odd at first, a closer examination into the actions of Gregor’s parents and sister shows that they simply had no drive to do anything- especially not work hard and find a cure for their breadwinner.

 

As the start of the story, we see that Gregor’s entire family depend on him. They rely on him for the food they eat, the home they sleep in and everything in between. As a result, we can conclude that Gregor’s family simply were not capable of doing a lot on their own.

 

This inability can be found in certain subtleties in the story. For instance, now that Gregor is unable to work and provide for his family, they resort to renting out space in their apartment to people who need a place to stay. While this idea may seem like a good way of making ends meet, we see that the family is unable to keep their apartment in good condition- a task that should be relatively simple when compared to all the things Gregor used to do for them. We see this inability to keep the apartment clean when one of the lodgers gets angry and declares: “… considering the disgraceful conditions prevailing in this apartment and family I immediately cancel my room.”  The very fact that they can’t even manage to keep a few rooms in their house clean and in good condition, shows just how incapable they actually are.

 

As a result of their proven incapability in doing simple things (take care of their home) the fact that they didn’t even try to help Gregor makes sense. It’s not that they didn’t want to, but rather they simply couldn’t.

 

Next, being that the above question allowed for us to delve into why Gregor’s family did not try to help him, we look into what Gregor’s relationship with his family is like. In his answer, Philip Yusupov discusses the relationship Gregor had with each of his family members.

 

What’s the relationship between Gregor and his family?

 

Gregor is the only one working in the family before his transformation. Dad failed to support the family. Gregor feels responsible for his family and takes his role very seriously. Dad attacks Gregor in different ways and being aggressive towards him. Mom tries to protect Gregor, but she ends up being not very successful in this. Gregor’s sister seems to be the closest relatives to him. Gregor was even trying to pay for the music classes. However, after Gregor’s change, the family completely abandoned him. To sum up, I feel that the relationships between the family and Gregor are distanced and cold.

 

Moving forward, now that we know a bit more about Gregor’s relationship with each of his family members, we decided to move along to the fuzzy, unclear characteristics illustrated regarding Gregor’s dead insect body. In answering this question, Zhongyu Zhang compares Gregor’s character to other characters found in books by Kafka. In doing so, we see that the ambiguity behind Gregor’s corpse is typical of Kafka.

 

What is the significance of the ambiguity behind Gregor’s corpse?

Gregor is a very typical character of Kafka. He was alienated in his life. He worked hard tried to feed his family but cannot get even a little respect. In this story his transformation didn’t change any of his situation.  He was still worried about train schedule and struggled with his small legs. The second maid his family employed she doesn’t have any fear of this “thing”. That points that is was not his transformation put him in this tragic situation. His death might be a release. Kafka didn’t put much passage on his death. Gregor was nothing but negligible in the society. His sister who was accounting on him felt happy on his death. His parents could start a new chapter of life. But only Gregor himself knew how much he suffered which had to finished with death.

 

Lastly, we felt as if the final necessarily part in understanding Gregor and who he was would be appropriately executed if we talk about the reaction his family had to his death. When answering the question of the odd reaction Gregor’s family had to his death, Erick Cumbe points to the fact that his family had already started to act as if he didn’t exist since his transformation. In essence, the response his family had makes good sense.

 

Why do you think Gregor’s parents and sister are unfazed about his death in the end?

Gregor’s parents and sister are unfazed about Gregor’s death in the end because they didn’t really care for him at that point. They would disregard Gregor and basically make him feel that he wasn’t part of the family anymore. Which in a way makes sense because of the change that happened to him. Gregor noticing this, realizes that living doesn’t mean anything anymore. Gregor living doesn’t benefit his family, which is why he dies with no regrets because he’s no longer a burden.

 

By answering the questions above, we are able to obtain a better understanding and idea of who Gregor was and how he impacted his family. While our answers are based off of information found in the text, as part of the nature of the questions, we used our own analysis to find the significance in the ideas raised and questioned in each of the four questions. It is through doing this text-based answering that we were able to in a sense ‘follow’ Gregor through his life and get to know him better. The order in which we chose to ask the questions follows Gregor’s life in a way that makes sense chronologically.

 

Our other two categories are as follows:

 

Category 2: Gregor’s Transformation

Questions:

  1. What does the randomness of Gregor’s transformation represent?
  2. Did Gregor deserve to be transformed into a bug?
  3. What does Gregor’s death represent?

We put these questions together mainly because they all focus on Gregor’s transformation from human being to insect. We thought that doing so would allow for us to obtain a better understanding of the situation Gregor found himself in now that he is an insect.

 

Category 3: Understanding the Story

Questions:

  1. How would the story be different if Gregor had transformed into a different animal?
  2. Why is Gregor so focused on time?
  3. Do you ever feel like you’ve suddenly woken up in the body of an ugly critter? If yes, how so?

We categorized these questions together for the purpose of understanding the story of The Metamorphosis better. These questions all cover a different aspect of the story, and can potentially be transformed into long, highly analytical answers which would really obtain a better understanding of the story.

 

Final project proposal

My final project is going to be based on a devastating work of art by Franz Kafka “Metamorphosis.” I believe that writing a final project in the way of a board game is a tremendous idea which will force all students to think in a different way. I believe that the best choice for me will be an association game. First of all, this type of game would have been the most interesting one to play, for me obviously. Secondly, I believe that association game will bring the biggest amount of avail for the audience. I will create my game for college students, or seniors of high schools because, in my opinion, younger kids will not understand “Metamorphosis” or get any deep meaning of it. I will pick “key” words of sentences and paragraphs, and ask the audience to analyze them and think why the author chose this particular word. Then students will have to pick a better synonym in their opinion and defend their choice. The winner will be selected by the vote of all participants.

Kafka’s Metamorphosis and Final Project Prep

Hi All,

A pleasure to chat with you yesterday.

By Thursday, please send by email (to: avra.spector@gmail.com) your final project proposal. You can find the Final Project Guidelines.

No later than Tuesday, 5/9 at 9am, please be sure to post your group’s essay about Kafka’s Metamorphosis to the class blog. For direction, please visit our class document here.

In preparation for Monday’s class, please read the following:

‘I’m Trying to be as Honest as I can:’ An Interview with James Baldwin
To Hear Another Language

Please be sure to print out the text and bring them to class for Monday’s discussion.

Domestic Writing Project

I kept Post-It notes on my nightstand and would write a stanza right before I fell asleep. Some nights I forgot to write…it wasn’t easy keeping track! Here is the complete ‘poem’:

it’s Sunday night, the Monday blues came a little early.

long, eventful yet draining weekend, I am prepared for the week that lies ahead

as my head hits the cloud, I fall into a well-deserved slumber.

 

it’s Monday night, I feel relaxed.

I feel content and satisfied.

Nothing to complain about, Thank Gd.

I am grateful as fall into my peaceful slumber.

 

it’s Tuesday night, I feel accomplished.

It was a productive day.

Despite my exhaustion, it paid off.

I checked off long overdue tasks off my To-Do list.

I feel accomplished, as I fall into a comforting slumber.

 

it’s Thursday night, I feel happy!

The week is finally over.

My work (job and academic) was more rewarding than usual.

I feel like I have a purpose.

I don’t know where I’m going but I know I’m going up, as I fall into an optimistic slumber.

 

It’s Sunday night again,

The week has fully revolved.

And I haven’t completely forgotten about this ‘poem’!

Franz Kafka: Before the Law

“Before the Law” came across as a very vague and provocative read. On the surface, it could be read as a motivational short story about how the only way to “enter the law” is by overcoming one’s fears and facing monumental challenges head-on. However, the subtext of Kafka’s story becomes darker upon closer inspection. In my opinion, “Before the Law” explores people’s inability to reach their deepest aspirations despite technically having every opportunity to do so. In our physical world, we could theoretically achieve anything we could possibly set out to do. If our willpower and courage were infinite, we would have no problem facing adversity and finding satisfaction in life. It is true that we may encounter physical limitations and obstacles that may be insurmountable, so I guess what I’m trying to say is that human reach far surpasses human willpower. In “Before the Law” the idea of each person having their own personal gateway to the Law could be seen as a representation of our own individual struggles. However, it sounds like the man in the story would have been doomed if he chose to enter the gateway. As the gatekeeper said, there would be more gateways inside with increasingly powerful guardians to be overcome. I am not sure how I feel about this story. I think it is extremely thought provoking and dense. It could either be seen as a parable, or a cautionary tale about the futility of pursuing something like “the Law.” I think I will need to revisit it at some later point to understand more.