illustration of a giant insect with the outline of a man in a suit standing within the confines of the insect

The Metamorphosis

by Franz Kafka

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After Gregor's death, what does his family do?

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After Gregor's death, each member of the Samsa family takes the day off from work. They take a tram to the countryside and begin to plan for a brighter future. They seem relieved and glad, rather than sad, that Gregor has died.

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After Gregor dies in pain and completely isolated, his family does not mourn his passing. In fact, they do the opposite: they experience immense relief, as though a burden has been lifted from their collective shoulders. Mr. Samsa even thanks God that his son is dead. Grete is the only one who appears to have some sympathy for Gregor: she notes how emaciated he was. However, her only emotion seems to be pity, the kind one might feel for roadkill rather than a dead sibling.

The family leaves the apartment for the first time in months, gets on a tram going to the countryside, and begins discussing their plans to move into a new apartment in the future. Now that Gregor is dead, the Samsa parents focus their attention on their daughter. Seeing how attractive she is, they plan on marrying her off as soon as they can. Their attention to Grete's vitality (the text describes her as "voluptuous" and "young") gives the Samsa couple an almost vampiric quality. Just as they lived off of Gregor's hard work, they now regard their daughter as a commodity in a similar vein.

The ending is quite cynical in this way. Gregor dies loving his family, only for them to experience relief at his death, looking forward to a future without him. They never even consider how Gregor suffered.

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As Gregor grows weaker and is on the point of death, the pain in his body begins to ease. He feels at peace. We are told that "he thought back of his family with emotion and love."

The next morning, the housekeeper finds his dead insect body and alerts the family. They come quickly and look at the corpse, and each of them has a different response. Mr. Samsa gives "thanks to God." Mrs. Samsa makes a gesture as if she wants the housekeeper to stop poking the corpse with her broom, but she says nothing. Grete states,

Just look how thin he was. He didn’t eat anything for so long. The food came out again just the same as when it went in.

After that, Mr. Samsa rudely gets rid of their boarders and states he will fire the cleaning woman the next day. The family members also decide to take the day off from work. They take the tram out to the countryside. It is as if a weight has lifted from them. They decide their prospects are good. They will move to a smaller, less expensive apartment. Grete becomes more lively, and the parents see she is pretty and begin to invest their hopes in their daughter.

The ending is poignant in that Gregor died feeling love for his family, but they feel nothing in return. He sacrificed himself to help his parents get out of debt, but now they simply see him as a problem that has gone away and are happily—and coldly—ready to move on.

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After Gregor's death, his family makes prayers of thanksgiving to God. Then, Mr. Samsa evicts the family's three lodgers. Satisfied that they have done well for themselves, Gregor's family spends the day resting and going for a stroll. They each write letters to their respective employers and business clients to excuse themselves from work.

Next, Mr. Samsa decides to fire the family housekeeper that very evening. He tells his wife and daughter that he is interested in making a new beginning for the family. So, he will be focused on discarding or rejecting anything that serves as a reminder of their old life with Gregor.

After this satisfactory speech, the three take the train to the outskirts of the city. All three are in good spirits because their employment prospects are promising. They now realize that they will be able to rent a smaller and less expensive apartment in a better location, now that Gregor is dead. Gregor's parents also make private plans to engage their daughter to a suitable man. Sadly, Gregor's family does not think of him at all. They appear eager to move on with their lives and to forget their previous existence with Gregor.

Gregor's family also never discusses Gregor's strange transformation and his subsequent death. They are wholly focused on the present and show little appetite for introspection. Their behavior demonstrates their lack of empathy for others.

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When the Samsa family learns of Gregor's death from the housekeeper, they first confirm it by watching as she moves Gregor's corpse with her foot.  Mr. Samsa thanks God, and all three make the sign of the cross.  They retreat into the parents' bedroom and cry "a little."  When they emerge from the bedroom, Mr. Samsa evicts the three boarders, and the family watches on the landing as the men shuffle away.  They decide that they need some time off, and all three write letters of excuse for themselves from work and school.  The cleaning lady begins to tell them how she has disposed of Gregor's body, but Mr. Samsa cuts her off.  He informs his wife and daughter that he will fire the housekeeper that evening.  They take a streetcar into the country and talk about their future. They decide to move to a smaller, nicer flat, and Grete, the daughter, becomes lively.  The parents recognize her beauty and promise, and the story ends.

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