Part 1, Division 1: Questions and Answers
1. What are Gregor’s thoughts and impressions when he wakes up to find himself transformed into an insect?
2. What kind of work did Gregor do before his metamorphosis?
3. What are Gregor’s obligations to his family before his transformation into an insect?
4. What are some of the things that Gregor hopes for?
5. Who sends Grete to get the doctor? The locksmith?
6. How would you describe the chief clerk?
7. What two contradictory goals does Gregor seem to be striving for throughout the story?
8. Why does Gregor finally decide to reveal himself to the chief clerk and his parents?
9. How does the chief clerk threaten Gregor?
10. What is the chief clerk’s reaction when he sees Gregor?
1. Gregor at first seems a little surprised and thinks he may have been dreaming, but as he looks around his room and feels the strange sensations of his new body, he realizes that he has not been dreaming—that he is indeed an insect.
2. Gregor worked as a traveling salesman.
3. Gregor is the sole support of his family before his metamorphosis. He paid the rent, all the bills, and he was paying off his parents’ private debts to the chief of his firm.
4. Gregor hopes one day to leave his job for good. His fondest wish is to send his sister, Grete, to music school to study the violin. He hopes to free himself from all his family’s obligations and from his parents’ dependency on him.
5. Mrs. Samsa sends Grete for the doctor, while Mr. Samsa sends the servant girl, Anna, for the locksmith.
6. The chief clerk is a serious man, all business. He doesn’t tolerate any nonsense and seems humorless, threatening, and two-dimensional.
7. Gregor seems to want to withdraw from the world and to be isolated from it, while at the same time he has an irrepressible need to be loved and understood.
8. He wants to see their reaction and is curious to know what they’ll say about him.
9. He tells Gregor that his work has fallen off and that he is in jeopardy of losing his position with the firm.
10. The chief clerk is speechless and reacts with shock and horror.
Part 1, Division 2: Questions and Answers
1. How do Mr. and Mrs. Samsa react when they see Gregor for the first time?
2. Why can’t Gregor explain himself to the chief clerk?
3. What are some of the things Gregor tries to tell the chief clerk?
4. Who knocks over the coffee pot?
5. What causes Mrs. Samsa to collapse to the floor?
6. How does Mr. Samsa force Gregor back into his room?
7. What happens to Gregor as he is being driven back into his room?
8. In what ways has Gregor been alienated from society?
9. How have the roles within the Samsa family changed?
10. What is the major theme of the story?
1. Mrs. Samsa collapses on the floor and buries her face on her breast, while Mr. Samsa looks angrily at Gregor and begins to cry.
2. Gregor can’t explain himself to the chief clerk because the chief clerk is not listening and because Gregor’s speech is unintelligible to him.
3. Gregor tries to remind the chief clerk that he is often the target of unfounded rumors and malicious attacks. He begs the chief clerk to have some compassion for him, and he reminds him that he has to provide for his family’s welfare.
4. Mrs. Samsa, in her panic and confusion, knocks over the coffee pot.
5. Seeing Gregor for the first time, Mrs. Samsa at first stares incredulously at him and then falls to the floor.
6. Mr. Samsa chases Gregor back into his room with a walking stick, rolled up newspaper and by stamping his feet and hissing savagely.
7. Gregor gets caught in the doorway as he is being driven back into his room.
8. Gregor has been rejected by his parents and by the chief clerk, who symbolizes the outside world of business and finance.
9. The roles within the Samsa family have been completely reversed. The parents, who had lived off Gregor for five years, now realize that their helpless son can no longer provide for them and they must find a way to support not only themselves and their daughter, but their son as well.
10. The major theme of the story is change.
Part 2, Division 1: Questions and Answers
1. Why doesn’t Gregor drink the milk his sister leaves for him?
2. Why does the household maid ask Mrs. Samsa to let her go?
3. Where does Gregor like to hide?
4. Who has assumed major responsibility for Gregor’s life?
5. Why did Gregor become a traveling salesman?
6. How do the Samsa’s expect to live now that their son’s source of income is lost?
7. Why is Gregor so intent on sending his sister to the conservatory to study music?
8. In what ways are Gregor’s physical powers declining?
9. How has Grete’s attitude and behavior toward Gregor changed?
10. Why does Grete want to remove most of the furniture from Gregor’s room?
1. Gregor finds it hard to eat anything with the soreness and tenderness in his side, and the sight of the milk only repulses him, even though it has always been his favorite drink.
2. The maid wants to leave the Samsa household because she no longer wants to work in the same apartment where there is a repulsive creature living.
3. Gregor likes to hide under the sofa in his room because it is a safe place and gives him some protection from the outside world.
4. Grete has assumed the major task of caring for Gregor.
5. Gregor became a traveling salesman after his father’s business failed.
6. Mr. Samsa made some investments while he was in business, and the Samsa’s can expect to live off...
(The entire section is 405 words.)
Part 2, Division 2: Questions and Answers
1. Why does Gregor cling to the picture of the woman in furs on the wall?
2. What causes Mrs. Samsa to faint on the sofa?
3. Why does Gregor run after Grete after his mother faints?
4. What kind of job has Mr. Samsa taken?
5. Why doesn’t Gregor recognize his father in his new uniform?
6. How does Mr. Samsa react when he first comes into the apartment and sees his wife lying on the floor?
7. How does Mr. Samsa punish Gregor?
8. Why does Gregor lose consciousness?
9. Who saves Gregor from an almost certain death?
10. How has the balance of power in the Samsa household changed by the end of Part 2?
1. Gregor feels a certain attachment for this picture. He had cut it out of a magazine and framed it at one time. It is something special for him. The figure of the woman may remind him of his own mother, or it may just give him a sense of warmth and comfort knowing it’s there on his wall for him to gaze at.
2. Mrs. Samsa faints when she sees Gregor sprawled out across the picture on the wall.
3. Gregor is worried that his mother may be dying and so runs after Grete to try to help.
4. Mr. Samsa has taken a job as a bank messenger.
5. Gregor hardly recognizes his father at first when he comes into the apartment because he is wearing a blue uniform and because he looks so unlike the man that he was used to seeing sitting around the house in his dressing gown. The sudden change in his father’s appearance jolts Gregor.
6. Mr. Samsa is greatly upset and angry because he knew Gregor would one day get “loose” in the apartment, and now he sees that he was right.
7. Mr. Samsa stones Gregor with apples.
8. One apple gets stuck in Gregor’s back. This is a crushing blow and mortal wound. It weakens Gregor, and so he loses consciousness.
9. Mrs. Samsa begs her husband to spare Gregor’s life.
10. Now that Mr. Samsa is again earning money, he has the upper hand and is no longer dependent upon Gregor for his comfort and security. And since Gregor is now no longer able to work, he must depend upon his father, and to a lesser degree, upon his sister and mother, for his survival.
Part 3, Division 1: Questions and Answers
1. How has Mr. Samsa’s attitude toward Gregor changed at the start of Part 3, Division 1?
2. What kind of job does Mrs. Samsa have?
3. What kind of job does Grete have?
4. How is Grete trying to improve her prospects for the future?
5. How do you explain Grete’s ambivalence toward Gregor?
6. Why does Grete become angry with her mother?
7. Who do the Samsas hire to clean Gregor’s room?
8. Why do the Samsas rent a room to the three men?
9. Why doesn’t Kafka give us any information about the three men?
10. How does Gregor feel when he hears the three men chewing their food at dinner?
1. Mr. Samsa decides to be more patient with Gregor, to suppress his real feelings toward Gregor, and not to regard him as the enemy.
2. Mrs. Samsa has taken a job sewing with an underwear company.
3. Grete has taken a job as a salesgirl.
4. Grete is studying French and learning shorthand in an attempt to secure a brighter, more financially rewarding future for herself.
5. Grete’s ambivalence can best be explained by the fact that she begins to feel a loss of her own personal freedom in caring for Gregor and tending to his needs. She wants to help him and take care of him, but at the same time, she resents having to do so and probably realizes that her burden is robbing her of her youth and vitality.
6. Grete becomes angry with her mother when she finds out that Mrs. Samsa cleaned Gregor’s room.
7. The Samsas hire an old woman, a widow, to come into the apartment mornings and evenings to clean up.
8. The Samsas rent a room to the three bearded men to earn more money and to divert their attention away from Gregor.
9. Kafka’s intention in introducing the three men into the story is unclear. Perhaps the three men are symbols; however, the reader must interpret them within the context of the story. They are instrumental in forcing the story to its conclusion.
10. Gregor feels alone, desolate, and abandoned when he hears the three men chewing their food in the next room.
Part 3, Division 2: Questions and Answers
1. Why do the three lodgers threaten to sue Mr. Samsa?
2. What private thoughts does Gregor have of Grete when he hears her violin playing?
3. Why does Grete want to get rid of Gregor?
4. How does Gregor feel once he is back in his room?
5. How would you describe the cleaning woman’s responses to Gregor when she first comes into the house?
6. Why does Gregor feel that Grete is right about his disappearing from everyone’s life?
7. Who discovers Gregor’s body?
8. Why does Mr. Samsa order the three lodgers out of the house?
9. What do the Samsas plan to do the day of Gregor’s death?
10. In what sense is The Metamorphosis an “optimistic” story?
1. When it is clear to the three lodgers that they have been living with a disgusting insect in the same apartment, they threaten to sue Mr. Samsa for the disgusting and intolerable conditions that prevail in the household.
2. Gregor fantasizes that Grete will come to his room and play for him alone. He dreams that he will never let her out of his room, that he will guard all the doors against intruders and outsiders, and that Grete will be so happy and thrilled by his promise to send her to music school that she would allow him to kiss her on her bare neck. It is an heroic fantasy, where Gregor sees himself as...
(The entire section is 572 words.)