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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Discuss one aspect of Gregor's personality in The Metamorphosis.

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Gregor Samsa has many good qualities. He is hard-working, conscientious, dutiful, and loyal. Above all, Gregor is devoted to his family—so much so that he is unaware of their continued exploitation of that quality. Because Gregor is basically honest, he finds it difficult to communicate with his family or his boss about his transformation. He tries to evade their questions because he does not want to lie to them, not just because he is worried about their reaction to his new insect identity.

When Gregor wakes up and realizes that his body has changed, he reflects on his ability to do his job. The reader learns that the work brings him no joy, but he does it because he is committed to supporting everyone else in his family. While he does not indicate holding any resentment toward them, he acknowledges that the emotional conditions have changed.

They had become quite accustomed to [Gregor's generosity], both the family and Gregor as well. They took the money with thanks, and he happily surrendered it, but the special warmth was no longer present.

Gregor considers how he continues to travel for work despite the exhaustion and lack of real human connection. He reflects on his family’s situation as a motive for carrying on:

If I didn't hold back for my parents' sake, I'd have quit ages ago.

His parents owe Gregor’s boss money, which he expects will “take another five or six years…” to pay off.

After the attorney arrives, his parents and sister join in trying to persuade him to open the door. Despite his awareness that his new physical self would make it hard for him to work, and his lateness that morning might even be reason his dismissal, his devotion and sense of filial duty remain strong. “Gregor was still here and wasn't thinking at all about deserting his family.”

Sadly, he later learns that their situation was far from dire. His father had saved a sizeable amount, and had even accumulated significant interest. His devotion had blinded him to his father’s secrets and lies.

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