What is the relationship between the father and son in The Metamorphosis?

5 Answers

cmcqueeney's profile pic

cmcqueeney | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Associate Educator

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Just to add food for thought - the relationship between father and son in the book is meant to be reflective of Kafka's relathionship with his real father. Kafka had stated at one point that he felt like an insect in his father's presence.  His father was large and imposing in appearance while Kafka was small and weak.

blacksheepunite's profile pic

blacksheepunite | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Associate Educator

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The relationship between the father and the son is strange. It is certainly strained, but it is also complex. The son's metamorphosis begins while works in a job that he hates in order to pay down his family's debt. His father loves him, but his love seems difficult to find: although tears eventually come, his initial response to his son's transformation is not sadness, but anger (he shakes his fist). The twisted part about their relationship is that the son essentially gets sick while carrying his father's burden (debt) but the father, instead of being sympathetic, essentially rejects and attacks the son for becoming the "vermin" that he has become. He hurts his son, physically, and scars him (he throws apples at him which injure his son and eventually cause an infection). This is deeply ironic, because the change in the son seems to occur as a result of the work that he does on his father's behalf. The father should be showering him with love, but instead hates the despicable creature he has become and wants nothing to do with him.  

amy-lepore's profile pic

amy-lepore | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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The father and the son have a strained relationship.  This is one reason why Gregor "morphs" into a huge bug and stays in his room.

Gregor is expected to work and support the family who basically does nothing until after Gregor's metamorphosis.  Then, suddenly, everyone--including the father--is able to stand up and pull his or her own weight in the family since Gregor is no longer able to do so.  Gregor's breakdown is bad for him, but good for the rest of the family.

Check out the excellent summary and critical analysis on enotes for this story.