In The Metamorphosis, what upon discovery first gives Gregor joy, then causes him distress?

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hmassman eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Great question! In the story “The Metamorphosis” by Franz Kafka, Gregor experiences a profound transformation from human to bug. As a result of this transformation, he is unable to enjoy some of the things that he used to love.

One example of this is the food that Gregor consumed. After his transformation, Gregor’s sister made his favorite meal (a bowl with sweetened milk and pieces of white bread) for him. At first, he was extremely excited about this kind gesture. However, he soon realizes that this favorite food was difficult to consume. Not only this, but the milk, which he used to love, was not desirable to his new taste palate.  As the story illustrates, 

“But he soon drew it back again in disappointment, not just because it was difficult for him to eat on account of his delicate left side (he could eat only if his entire panting body worked in a coordinated way), but also because the milk, which otherwise was his favorite drink and which his sister had certainly placed there for that reason, did not appeal to him at all.”

Thus, his physical changes impacted Gregor’s personal preferences. Although he previously enjoyed the meal his sister prepared for him, Gregor no longer enjoys it due to his transformation. Thus, his joy quickly transforms into distress once he realizes how his change impacted his taste.

Read the study guide:
The Metamorphosis

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