The Metamorphosis: Family Life and Modern Elements

Today in class we had a class discussion about part 2 of The Metamorphosis. We focused greatly on the family members and how they contributed to the family before and after Gregor’s transformation. Gregor is the breadwinner of the family. On page 38 it says, “Now his father was sill hale enough but an old man, and he had done no work for the past five years and could not be expected to do much; during these five years, the first years of leisure in has laborious though unsuccessful life he has grow rather fat and became sluggish. And Gregor’s old mother, how was she to earn a living with her asthma, which troubled her every other day panting for breath beside an open window? And was his sister to earn her bread, she who was still child of seventeen and whose life hitherto had been so pleasant, consisting as it did in dressing herself nicely, sleeping long, helping in the housekeeping, going out to  a few modest entertainment and above all playing the violin?” At this point in the story Gregor is making excuses for why his family member can not work. Now that he is incapable of work, they must step up and get past there problems, in order to make money. Grete, Gregor’s sister, doesn’t begin to work, but she begins to help out with Gregor a lot. She is the only one that is caring for him. She uses trial and error to figure out what he likes. She is always trying to make the situation better for Gregor. The mom and dad don’t help at all. At one point the mom wants to see Gregor but his dad will not allow her. They both try to avoid any interaction with him. Grete begins to have a purpose, and in a sense Gregor and sister switch roles. The dad also starts working. At the end of the story he comes home in a uniform and is all put together. He has to do this because he needs to make money for the family. In a sense, the dad and Gregor are switching positions as well.

Another topic we briefly discussed during the conversation was the the modern element, nostalgia and the postmodern element, loss of identity. While reading the story these element really stood out to me. Gregor thinks about the past a lot. He wishes things could go back to the way they used to be. When he looks out the window he thinks back to the times when he had freedoms. During the story, Grete wants to move furniture out of his room in order for him to have room to move around more. When Grete and his mother being to do this he thinks back to the times when he would use his desk to do work. He didn’t want them to take it away because he was trying to hold on to all he had when he was a human. Gregor’s number one concern is not being able to work. This is where we see is identity being lost. He defines himself by his job. He wants to be able to provide for his family. He feels he has no purpose when he is not working. He feels helpless. All he can do is watch his family take control. This can be a really hard thing for people to do, so I’m sure it is very hard for Gregor. 

Photo credit: http://www.redwedgemagazine.com/online-issue/monsters-modernity-metamorphosis

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