English 2, Pre-IB

16 March 2004

In Kafka’s “The Metamorphosis”, the main character Gregor Samsa wakes up to

find himself transformed into an enormous bug. This sudden change, however, is not the

beginning of his isolation from his family. The book starts out in a setting most would

consider the starting point of seclusion, yet they will find later on that is not so. There are

many events leading up to his physical change, but in reality the way he is emotionally

treated changes in no drastic way whatsoever. The harsh conditions of his ever-traveling

job and his family’s dwindling appreciation for the money he provides them are main

issues that precede Gregor’s actual transformation.

One form of isolation during the years advancing Gregor’s physical change was

his life at home. Gregor loved his family and desperately wanted to keep them happy,

healthy, and safe; yet to accomplish all of this with only his providing of money took a

lot of work. Slowly he drowned himself in work, for the good of the family; but at the

same time they slowly drowned him out of their affairs. His father had always given

Gregor the idea that they were in desperate need of money, but it wasn’t until he was a

bug that he realized he was wrong in thinking “his father had not been able to save a

penny”. Strangely, however, Gregor was not upset at the thought of being misled by his

father to work even more strenuously when the family didn’t gravely need money. He


thought of it as “the first pleasant news he had heard since his imprisonment”. As his

family began isolating him from their life, Gregor began to have plenty of time on his

hands to think of issues concerning him, often reminiscing of the old days. At times he

would recall the “special up rush of warm feelings” that used to surround him when

delivering the hard earned cash to his family. He thought of how their appreciation had

dwindled. Not that they weren’t grateful, but that they had simply accepted the fact that

Gregor now took care of them. Although he was never upset at the subsiding reverence

for his work, he did resent that his family had “simply gotten used to it”. They eventually

started regarding him as just being there. He was now neither their son nor brother;

instead he became the Gregor who pays for food and lives upstairs.

Gregor’s job as a traveling salesman, “day in, day out – on the road”, left him

with no time for himself, his friends, or his family. On a normal day, Gregor would

awaken around 4 o’clock, catch a train at 5 o’clock and return for lunch just in time to see

other salesmen just awakening. He was completely devoted to his job; in fact “during the

five years with the firm Gregor had not been sick even once”. His boss, however, still

kept a messenger boy waiting at the train stop to assure him of Gregor’s arrival. This

shows that throughout all the years Gregor had worked with the firm, they have yet to

treat him human and perhaps to trust his coming to work. He often wondered why he

picked such a “grueling job”, but deep down he knew he had to pay off his parents’ six

year debt. Gregor vowed that after he “got the money together to pay off his parents’ debt

to his boss” he would no longer stand for any of the heartless qualities associated with the

job and would quit. The inhumanness of his job really became apparent when he


recounted the terrible things he’s forced to do every day: “torture of traveling, worrying

about changing trains, eating miserable food at all hours, constantly seeing new faces, no

relationships that last or get more intimate”. Obviously during work these things were

major contributors to Gregor’s isolation, and the conditions under which Gregor is

supposed to work leave him with no time outside of his job.

Gregor’s life revolved completely around his family, and he tried as hard as he

could to provide them with a care-free life. In all the ways he could imagine he created

exactly what he wanted: his sister’s life “consisted