Isolation


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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


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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


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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