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In Kafka's The Metamorphosis, how does the family react to Gregor's death?

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gll391412 | Student, Undergraduate | Honors

Posted June 12, 2011 at 10:32 AM via web

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In Kafka's The Metamorphosis, how does the family react to Gregor's death?

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booboosmoosh | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

Posted June 12, 2011 at 2:44 PM (Answer #1)

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The Samsa family in The Metamorphosis by Franza Kafka, seems to respond to Gregor's death as with relief, and … hope.

The mother and daughter hug one another. The father demands some attention, which the mother and daughter promptly give.

They decided to spend this day in resting, and going for a stroll; they had not only deserved such a respite from work, but absolutely needed it.

This is ironic because no such respite was ever afforded Gregor. In fact, on the day he has transformed, everyone was at his door telling him to go to work, but now these three who seem to find time every day to rest, also "deserve" a break, and intend to go for a stroll— unheard of in this story. However at this point, each writes a note of excuse as to why he or she will not be attending work that day.

There is an odd behavior on the part of the women and Mr. Samsa. All of a sudden, they seem very close. When the charwoman comes in to take her leave, she declares that the "thing" next door has been disposed of. She stands prepared to offer details, but Mr. Samsa stops her, and she leaves in a huff.

…neither from his wife nor his daughter did he get any answer, for the charwoman seemed to have shattered again the composure they had barely achieved. They rose, went to the window and stayed there, clasping each other tight.

It is hard to understand how Grete has had any need to "achieve" composure when so recently she demanded that they get rid of Gregor. Mrs. Samsa seems a weak woman who has accepted the loss of her son easier than one might think, unless she has long since stopped thinking of him as her son…by why, then, the need for barely achieved composure?

The family finally takes a tram, which is bathed in sunlight, symbolic of hope. They sit back and speak of their jobs, and realize that the jobs are good and hold promise for improvement in the future. Of course, if Gregor had not "changed," none would have left the house to find work—for all the years Gregor suffered through his job, no one else had lifted a hand. They start to plan: they will get a smaller and cheaper apartment, something better than what Gregor had chosen. This will at last remove the final "essence" of Gregor from their lives, as if they never knew him.

The parents are simultaneously struck by the thought that Grete has grown to a marriageable age, and they exchange knowing glances. And in that moment...

...it was like a confirmation of their new dreams and good intentions when, as they reached their destination of their trip, the daughter rose up first and stretched her young body.

Some sources suggest that the family may have changed for the moment out of necessity, but if "old habits die hard," it may well be that if Grete marries the "right" young man, he may take Gregor's place, working and supporting the family, while they remain at home, once again living a life of leisure. It might be important to remember what is said about good intentions: that the road to hell is paved with them. It may be with this hope, that the future looks so good to the Samsa family.

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