In The Metamorphosis, what mistaken beliefs does Gregor hold concerning his family?

Expert Answers
favoritethings eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In Chapter Two, the narrator says, 

[Gregor] had always believed that his father had not been able to save a penny from the business, at least his father had never told him anything to the contrary, and Gregor, for his part, had never asked him any questions.  In those days Gregor's sole concern had been to do everything in his power to make the family forget as quickly as possible the business disaster which had plunged everyone into a state of total despair.

In other words, Gregor had been led to believe—or at least allowed to believe—that his parents were essentially penniless and that if he did not work—and work a lot—his family would remain that way.  Gregor took it upon himself to repair the family's finances and spirits, working with such "special ardor" that he was promoted from stock clerk to salesman quite quickly.  His family was initially "astonished and delighted" with his earnings and potential, but their gratitude seems to have diminished over time, and their thanks lacked the warmth they once had.  He learns, now, that his father had retained some little money and had also saved from Gregor's earnings, despite the fact that the debt could have been paid off more quickly and Gregor could have stopped working at a job he hated if his father had put that money toward the family's debt.

In addition, Gregor seems to believe that his family lived a rather monotonous existence while he worked.  However, on the first morning he stays home, he see that

The breakfast dishes were laid out lavishly on the table, since for his father breakfast was the most important meal of the day, which he would prolong for hours while reading various newspapers.

Therefore, instead of conserving the money Gregor earns, his family chooses to eat "lavish" breakfasts in his absence, and his father purchases multiple newspapers to enjoy during these, apparently, lengthy meals.  Again, the sense of Gregor having been taken advantage of by his father, at least, is inescapable (though he does not see it that way, or, at least not consciously).

hmassman eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In The Metamorphosis, Gregor exhibits several misconceptions about his family. Although Gregor undoubtedly cares for them, which is especially seen in how he financially supports them, he fails to realize several pivotal concepts. Some of these concepts especially relate to his family’s financial situation and their ability to work.

First, Gregor seemed to believe that his family had no money saved from his father’s past company. However, he soon discovers that they had money saved from his past work that could ameliorate the situation. Furthermore, they had also saved money that Gregor had given them as well. Thus, although Gregor not working put a financial bind on their family, they had saved enough to make the situation more bearable. As the story illustrates:

“ spite all bad luck, a fortune, although a very small one, was available from the old times, which the interest (which had not been touched) had in the intervening time gradually allowed to increase a little. Furthermore, in addition to this, the money which Gregor had brought home every month (he had kept only a few florins for himself) had not been completely spent and had grown into a small capital amount.” 

Furthermore, Gregor seemed to view his family members as incapable of working before his transformation. For example, Gregor expressed that his father was too old, his mother was too sick, and that his sister was too young. As a result, he took the entire financial burden on himself. However, after his transformation, Gregor witnessed that his father began working as a servant, his mother sewed for a fashion shop, and his sister became a sales girl.

Thus, although the family was struggling financially, they had prepared by saving money. Additionally, the family demonstrates a strong work ethic by taking challenging jobs, despite Gregor’s previous misconceptions.

Read the study guide:
The Metamorphosis

Access hundreds of thousands of answers with a free trial.

Start Free Trial
Ask a Question