illustration of a giant insect with the outline of a man in a suit standing within the confines of the insect

The Metamorphosis

by Franz Kafka

Start Free Trial

What do the bearded roomers represent in section 3 of The Metamorphosis?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Gregor's father has become a servant, refusing even to take off his uniform at home, while his mother takes in sewing for a local shop, and his sister works as a salesgirl and studies stenography at night. They have become workers, proletarians, forced to labor and earn for themselves now that they no longer have Gregor to provide for them. As the narrator says, "What the world demands of poor people they now carried out to an extreme degree." They had to let their servant girl go, and they are now waiting on the lodgers they've taken in. The lodgers now sit at the head of the table, where Gregor's mother and father used to sit. The lodgers seem to inspect their meals to make sure the food is suitable before eating, and the family eats in the kitchen, like servants. Mr. and Mrs. Samsa treat the lodgers with "exaggerated politeness" and are afraid even to sit on their own chairs while the lodgers observe Grete playing the violin.

The lodgers are judgmental and entitled, and they represent the bourgeoisie, a class above the workers. The Samsas certainly treat the lodgers as though they are above the Samsa family, socially, though it is only recently that the family's fortunes fell. The lodgers are materialistic and privileged, and they feel that they can treat the working-class Samsas like servants. They even seem irritated when Grete displays some talent, as though they would never expect such talent from a working-class woman.

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access
Approved by eNotes Editorial