Why does Gregor's transformation affect Grete in a negative way in their relationsihp, but a positive way in her own life?

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jmj616 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In Franz Kafka's Metamorphosis, the hero Gregor Samsa wakes up one morning to find that he has been transformed into a beetle.

Not surprisingly, this causes many changes in his relationships with his family.

Before the metamorphosis, Samsa's 17-year old sister, Grete, had been considered by her parents to be "a somewhat useless daughter."  It was Gregor who supported his parents and his sister with his job as a traveling salesman.  Grete depends on Gregor for financial support and she hopes that he will someday be able to pay for her to study violin at a musical conservatory.

After Gregor's transformation, it is Grete who shoulders the burden of feeding him food scraps and cleaning his room. Because she sees his wretched state the most,  she is the one who is most disgusted by him and insists that he be driven out of the house.  Gregor's transformation negatively affects Grete's relationship with thim.  The reason is obvious: how much can you love a brother who is a revolting insect?

Grete's own life, however, is positively affected.  With Gregor unable to work, Grete gets a job and begins to support her parents.  She is no longer "somewhat useless."  In addition, she begins to bloom physically.  The novel ends with Mr. and Mrs. Samsa looking with pride at their daughter:

It occurred to Mr. and Mrs. Samsa almost at the same time that their daughter, despite all the recent difficulties that had made her cheeks pale, was growing livelier all the time and had blossomed to become a beautiful and voluptuous young woman. Growing quieter, they almost unconsciously communicated with each other through their glances, thinking that it was soon going to be time to look for a worthy man for her.

Further Reading:
Read the study guide:
The Metamorphosis

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