How does Gregor's transformation show the power struggle within his family?  

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jmj616 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

One of the major power struggles among the characters in Kafka's The Metamorphosis revolves around the financial support of the Samsa family.

Prior to Gregor's transformation into a dung beetle, he had been the family's breadwinner.  Both his father, and his beloved sister Grete, had been dependent on him. 

Gregor's father, Mr. Samsa, is a failed businessman who has not worked for five years. Gregor's seventeen year old sister, Grete, is considered by her parents to be "a somewhat useless daughter."  Her big hope in life is that Gregor will someday be able to finance her studies at a music conservatory.

After Gregor's metamorphis and subsequent retirement from his job, both his father and sister go to work.  The father becomes a messenger for a bank. He takes particular pride in his uniform, probably because it is a symbol of his "victory" over his son.  Grete becomes a sales clerk.

In the end, it is Grete and the father who take the lead in the decision to banish Gregor from the family home.   Part of Grete's reasoning is that it is unfair to her and her father, who are working so hard, to have to put up with such a monstrosity at home:

If people have to work as hard as we all do, they can't endure this endless torment at home as well. I can't do it either.”

The power equation has been reversed.  No longer is Gregor the most important member of the family upon whom others are dependent for financial support.  Rather, his sister and father--formerly dependent on him--decide to expel Gregor from home because he has become a useless burden.

Read the study guide:
The Metamorphosis

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