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.
Questions: Gregor’s inner world
- What is important about Gregor?
- Do you think that Gregor is losing his human attributes while living as a beetle?
- 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.
Questions: Later reactions in the story towards Gregor
- What is the significance of Gregor’s father slamming the door on him?
- What do the tenants stand for?
- 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