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

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Student Question

What is Gregor Samsa's profession in The Metamorphosis?

Quick answer:

In The Metamorphosis, Gregor is a traveling salesman who finds his job stressful and unrewarding.

Expert Answers

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Gregor Samsa works as a traveling salesman, which is a job he loathes. Because he has textile samples, readers can surmise that he is a textile salesman. He finds the traveling stressful: he is constantly worried about missing train connections, he dislikes the bad food he eats while traveling, and he hates the constant churn of meeting different people all the time. He is never around one set of people long enough to make friends or feel settled.

He also dislikes the early rising, which means he never gets enough sleep, so that he always feels a bit groggy. This morning, for instance, he has to catch a train at 5:00 a.m. He resents the other traveling salesmen who leave later and can eat breakfast at home. This morning he is especially stressed because he realizes he has overslept.

His boss comes across as a demanding micromanager. Gregor also reveals that he endures his job because it is paying his parents' debts. He hopes that the debts will be paid and that he can quit in five or six years. He is tired of stuffing down the resentment that he feels toward the way his boss treats him.

Because of the way his job dehumanizes him, Gregor literally turns into an insect.

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