Why does Gregor cling to the picture of the woman in furs on the wall?

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Early on, the narrator describes Gregor's feelings that his life is not very fulfilling. He has no time to establish or develop any meaningful relationships—not even time enough to eat satisfying foods—because he spends all of his time on the road as a traveling salesman.

When he first awakens as...

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Early on, the narrator describes Gregor's feelings that his life is not very fulfilling. He has no time to establish or develop any meaningful relationships—not even time enough to eat satisfying foods—because he spends all of his time on the road as a traveling salesman.

When he first awakens as a bug, he cannot figure out what has happened to him, and it is here that the narrator first describes the "picture of a woman with a fur hat and a fur boa." He had cut it out of a magazine and put it into "a pretty gilt frame." It is as though, in lieu of an actual woman with whom he might have an actual relationship, Gregor can only place the picture of an attractive and luxuriously-attired woman from a magazine in his frame, because no such woman exists in his life. When the behavior of his sister, Grete, and his mother indicate that they may intend to take this framed picture, it represents the likelihood that no such woman will ever exist, and this is too painful for Gregor to endure. With the removal of his furniture and this picture, it seems as though the last vestiges of his humanity will be gone.

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Another aspect of criticism on this story suggests that Gregor clinging to the picture of the woman in furs symbolizes his sexual frustration, the manliness that his family and job stole from him (and that he relinquished) by working in a job he found meaningless while his family, especially his father, took advantage of him.  That the woman is wearing furs in the pictures signifies the intimacy with which he clings to her; indeed, some scholars find this intimacy an act of violation.

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Gregor doesn't particularly like the picture, but it does represent to him an element of normalcy and his life as it was before his change.  It is the one thing his sister and family do not take from the room, and he clings to it as if his very life depended on it.  In his mind, if all things from his human life disappear, the likelihood that he will return to normal is less certain.

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Gregor clings to the picture on the wall because he is clinging to his past.  His sister, Grete, comes in and tries to move all his furniture, thinking it would be easier for him to crawl around the floor and walls if it were gone.  Gregor likes the furniture because it reminds him of when he was normal, but he can't do anything about the fact that his sister and mother are removing it.  In an attempt to do something, he climbs the wall and clings to the picture so his sister cannot remove it.  Ironically, he displays obvious bug-like characteristics in order to cling to his human past.

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