The Metamorphosis Part 3, Division 1: Summary and Analysis
by Franz Kafka

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Part 3, Division 1: Summary and Analysis

New Characters:
Three Lodgers: the three bearded men who rent a room in the Samsa apartment

Cleaning Woman (Charwoman): the woman who takes on the job of cleaning out the protagonist’s room in Part 3

Part 3, Division 1 covers the action from a description of Gregor’s worsening physical condition to the concert Grete gives for the three gentlemen lodgers. One month has elapsed from the time Mr. Samsa injured Gregor with the apple.

The apple decaying in Gregor’s back has made him extremely weak and has greatly limited his physical movement. He is almost completely incapacitated now, but he can lie in the silence of his room and listen in on the conversations of his parents in the living room since the door to that room is now wide open all the time.

The family has adopted an attitude of patience toward Gregor, and even Mr. Samsa has put aside his feelings of disgust for his son and has resolved to be more patient and to see what happens.

All the family members are now working. Gregor’s mother is working for an underwear firm, sewing at home; Grete has taken a job as a salesgirl, and she is also learning French and shorthand in order to secure a more solid future for herself. Mr. Samsa, as has already been noted, works as a bank messenger.

For more than a month, Gregor has been confined to his room. During this time, his room has grown oppressive and filthy; dust is everywhere, on the floor, in the corners, on the walls, and thick dust balls cling to Gregor’s body when he drags himself along the floor. His physical appearance is unsightly. He eats very little now and is growing weaker and more frail by the day.

Grete no longer takes any pride in her care for Gregor. She allows his room to grow dirty and stale, if not chaotic with filth. When she has to go into his room to bring him his food, she does so quickly and not without a little contempt. The strain of taking care of her brother for so long has finally caught up with her and has affected her outlook, her spirit, and her personality. Besides, with her new job, she now has other interests and pursuits in life, and so Gregor is no longer the center of her universe.

To help meet the household expenses, the Samsas decide to rent one of the rooms in the apartment to three men. These men are all bearded and appear to be serious in their manner, bearing, and speech. They take their evening meals in the living room and smoke their cigars and read their papers after dinner while the Samsas eat in the kitchen. The three lodgers are obsessed with order and cleanliness, and they demand that the garbage can and ash can be placed in Gregor’s room. The Samsas have also dismissed Anna, the young servant girl, and in her place have hired an old cleaning woman to come into the apartment in the morning and evening to help with the domestic chores. This old woman complies with the lodgers’ demands and dumps the refuse cans in Gregor’s room.

One evening, after dinner, Grete is playing her violin in the kitchen. The music casts a spell over the apartment and the three lodgers stop what they are doing to listen. Gregor too is attracted to the sad, graceful melody coming from the kitchen. He crawls to the doorway of his room and sticks his head out into the living room where he is mesmerized by the music.

Gregor’s disabling injury—the rotting, festering apple sinks deeper and deeper in his back for everyone to see—makes it virtually impossible for him to crawl on the walls or the ceiling and reduces him to the status of a crippled invalid. Perhaps feeling a little guilty himself for inflicting this horrible injury to his son, Mr. Samsa decides to be more patient and resolute with Gregor in the future and, along with his wife and daughter, tries to accept him as one of the family and not as the enemy. This change in Mr. Samsa does not necessarily suggest that Mr. Samsa’s attitude toward Gregor has radically changed, but only that he is buying time and really doesn’t...

(The entire section is 2,659 words.)