The Metamorphosis

by: Franz Kafka

The father

Characters The father

The reader predominantly sees Gregor’s father from Gregor’s point of view in the story, and for the most part, he appears as a hopeless and unkind man, concerned primarily with money, who isn’t particularly close to his son. We learn, for example, that he had a business that failed, and since its failure he has lost his motivation and essentially given up working, forcing Gregor to provide for the family and work to pay off the father’s debts. Yet despite Gregor’s help, the father has no sympathy for Gregor after Gregor undergoes his metamorphosis. On the day of Gregor’s change, the father only seems concerned about the family’s finances, and in the two instances when he interacts directly with Gregor in the story, he attacks Gregor in some way, first when he beats Gregor back into his room at the beginning and later when he throws the fruit at him.

These details suggest an estrangement between Gregor and his father (Kafka’s strained relationship with his own father, whom he viewed as alien and overbearing, certainly gives weight to such an interpretation). Gregor never explicitly says he resents his father, but it’s clear that he only works as a traveling salesman to make up for his father’s failure in business, suggesting he feels trapped by his father’s failings. Moreover, Gregor never displays the same affection for his father that he displays, albeit rarely, toward his mother and sister, as when he longs to see his mother before she and Grete begin moving the furniture out of his room. Adding to this sense of estrangement is the way the father is referred to in the story. The narrator does not name him beyond calling him “Mr. Samsa,” and in Gregor’s thoughts he almost always appears as “the father.”