In "The Metamorphosis" by Franz Kafka, is Gregor's hunger towards the end figurative as well as literal?

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Susan Hurn eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Gregor's hunger is indeed figurative as well as literal. His is a spiritual need, as well as a physical one. Gregor is starving for love and human connection, a human relationship that frees him from his isolation and loneliness. He feels this need especially in relation to his sister. Toward the end of the story, Gregor is drawn from his room to hear his sister play the violin:

Could it be that he was only an animal, when music moved him so? It seemed to him to open a way toward that unknown nourishment he so longed for.

Gregor decides to go to his sister as she plays, "to make her understand that she must come with him." He fantasizes that she will stay with him in his room, sit with him, and listen to what he has to say to her--that he had planned to send her to the music Conservatory before his metamorphosis had come upon him. Gregor imagines she will "burst into tears" and that he will kiss her. Gregor longs for this moment of validation, tenderness, and love. He starves for such moments, the "unknown nourishment" he needs. The terrible irony of Gregor's life is that he had been denied emotional nourishment from his family even before his metamorphosis.


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The Metamorphosis

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