In Franz Kafka's novella, The Metamorphosis , (published in 1915), Gregor Samsa awakes one morning as a "monstrous insect." His concern is not so much that he has turned into an enormous bug, but about how difficult his job is and what a toll it has taken on him....
In Franz Kafka's novella, The Metamorphosis, (published in 1915), Gregor Samsa awakes one morning as a "monstrous insect." His concern is not so much that he has turned into an enormous bug, but about how difficult his job is and what a toll it has taken on him. It is almost as if he sees his altered state as a result of:
...the stresses of selling[: there are] the problems of travelling, the worries about train connections, irregular bad food, temporary and constantly changing human relationships, which never come from the heart. To hell with it all!”
There is always debate as to whether Gregor literally turns into an insect overnight, which would understandably surprise, and perhaps disgust his family, or if the novel is speaking figuratively: that once Gregor stops working—does not get out of bed that morning and get on the train—he becomes a pariah to the family—people who do not work, but pursue their personal agendas while Gregor works desperately hard to pay the family's bills.
How does Gregor end up this way? We read later in the story that he was in the military at one point. However, when we meet him at the story's beginning, Gregor explains why he has this specific job:
Once I’ve got together the money to pay off my parents’ debt to [the boss]—that should take another five or six years—I’ll [quit] for sure.
Regardless of whether this is figurative or literal—whether it is a dream (as Gregor wonders when he wakes up) or an actual event, Gregor is unable to go to work. Though he would willingly try to do so, as he has for so long, he simply cannot maneuver and his condition rapidly deteriorates. It is soon apparent that whatever the case, his value to his family rests firmly on his ability to provide a paycheck, and except for his mother, who eventually also turns away, sadly he is worthless to them from this point on.
A novella has generally fewer conflicts than novels, yet more complicated ones than short stories.