One morning, when Gregor Samsa woke from troubled dreams, he found himself transformed in his bed into a horrible vermin. He lay on his armor-like back, and if he lifted his head a little he could see his brown belly, slightly domed and divided by arches into stiff sections.
Published by his friend, Max Broad after his early death The Metamorphosis has become one of the most read works of Franz Kafka. The central figure of this short story is Gregor Samsa, a salesman who wakes one morning and finds himself transformed into an insect. Gregor is not perturbed by his physical transformation but is severely concerned about getting late to work and about missing his train. He is determined to get up and get ready for work, as he is anxious about his manager noticing his absence and coming at his house. As the story progresses, we get different reactions from different characters in the story towards his transformation. His father’s reaction is one of disgust and shame and he locks Gregor in his room. At one point in the story, he physically attacks Gregor by throwing apples at him. His sister in the beginning of the story, is empathetic towards Gregor’s condition, she cleans his room and brings him food, but by the end of the story is relieved by his death. Like his sister his mother is also concerned about his transformation in the beginning but celebrates his son’s death in the end.
The Metamorphosis is about human suffering and is a perfect novella to introduce students to Kafka’s work. While the story can be disorienting in the beginning, as the reader progresses, they can relate to Gregor’s situation. The story is a complex narrative with multiple layers that explores variety of human emotions and relationships including, fear, frustration, disappointment, love, loneliness, suffering, meaning of death, and disgust.
1) Why do you think Gregor Samsa transforms into an insect? What is the reaction of his family towards his metamorphosis?
2) Which character of the story do you sympathize with most and why?
3) Why do you think Gregor Samsa was more concerned about his getting late to work than his transformation into an insect?
4) What attributes to change in attitude of Gregor Samsa’s sister in the story?
5) What do you think is the point of the story (if any)? What you think Kafka is trying to portray with this story?