The Metamorphosis

by: Franz Kafka

Important Quotations Explained

5. Lapsing into silence and communicating almost unconsciously with their eyes, they reflected that it was high time they found a decent husband for her. And it was like a confirmation of their new dreams and good intentions that at the end of their ride the daughter was the first to get up, stretching her young body.

These final lines of the work suggest that the two other notable metamorphoses we see besides Gregor’s—that is, the family’s change from despairing to hopeful and Grete’s change from a girl into a woman—are complete. The family as a whole undergoes a drastic psychological change in the story, indicated in the “new dreams” mentioned in the final line. Because of the failure of the father’s business, the family appears hopeless and hampered by debt at the beginning of the work. But as the family members must find employment after Gregor’s transformation, they begin to save money and create opportunities for themselves. They appear not to realize that their lives are improving until the end of the story, when they talk on the train as they head out to the countryside. At that point, each recognizes that he or she has a job that will likely lead to better opportunities in the future, and they realize that with Gregor dead, they can move into a smaller apartment, which will save them money. In the final lines of the story, they become a genuinely hopeful and happy family.

The other notable transformation referred to in the quotation is Grete’s change from a girl into a woman. Grete begins the work basically still a child with no responsibilities. But as she begins caring for Gregor and working to help earn money for the family, she matures psychologically. She becomes more outspoken within her family, for instance, and she has the responsibilities of an adult. The last lines of the story, in which her parents realize that she’s grown into a pretty young woman and think of finding her a husband, signal that she is now physically mature as well. In other words, she has become an adult, and she embodies the hopes of her parents as she begins this new stage of her life. The last image of the story is Grete stretching, suggesting that she is emerging after a period of confinement, much like an insect emerging from a cocoon after its metamorphosis into a mature adult.