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The Metamorphosis

by Franz Kafka

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In The Metamorphosis, what are the characters' attitudes about work?  

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In Franz Kafka's The Metamorphosis, work is generally depicted as a burden that can take over a person's whole life. Let's look at how this plays out in the story.

Gregor Samsa is a traveling salesman who hates his job. Yet he needs the job to take care of his parents and sister since his father's business went bankrupt and apparently no one else in the family is working, at least when the story starts.

Gregor, however, soon has a major problem with going to work. He has changed into a giant bug, and he can no longer do his job even if he wanted to. On the morning of the transformation, Gregor oversleeps, and the Deputy Director arrives at his family's apartment, demanding to know why Gregor has not come to work. The Deputy Director is a harsh man who demands a great deal of his employees. The reason Gregor has not shown up, though, is soon more than evident.

From here on, the family must think about work in a different way. They have a little money saved up, but they do not want to touch it yet. Gregor's father finds a job at the bank. He has not worked for quite some time because Gregor has been supporting the family, but now he seems to throw himself into his job, allowing it to absorb him.

Gregor is concerned that his mother and sister will also have to go to work, and this makes him feel horribly guilty. Mrs. Samsa takes on lodgers in the apartment. Grete begins working as a clerk and training to be a secretary. Soon her job absorbs her, too, and she stops caring for her brother as she once did and even tells her parents that they should get rid of the bug that is Gregor.

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