Throughout much of the novel, Gregor’s mother expresses sympathy and care for her transformed son, qualities that distinguish her from his father’s heartlessness. She frequently comes to Gregor’s defense, first emphasizing to the chief clerk that her son is an excellent employee and later begging for his life when Mr. Samsa throws apples at him. These behaviors work to highlight her generally maternal nature and emphasize her hope in the return of Gregor’s human form. She maintains her belief in Gregor’s inherent humanity longer than any of the other characters, suggesting that she represents his strongest point of connection to his past life. When she and Grete begin clearing furniture from Gregor’s room, the sound of her voice explaining the importance of leaving everything just as it was is what brings Gregor back from “the brink of forgetfulness.” The emptiness of Gregor’s human life may have made him feel inhuman, but the idea of his mother’s love reconnects him to that life and pulls him away from the freedom he has found as a literal insect.
The love that Gregor’s mother shows, however, is often just an idea. Despite her maternal instincts, she reacts hysterically every time she lays sight on her son’s insectile form. The inability of Gregor’s mother to maintain sensitivity towards her son when she sees him suggests that there is no such thing as unconditional love and support. Her humanizing perspective reaches a clear limit, making it impossible for her to look upon Gregor’s insect body and recognize it as her human son. Essentially, Gregor’s mother is only capable of maintaining her maternal attitude in theory and fails to do so in practice, or in his presence. When Gregor dies, his mother feels a sense of personal relief rather than grief which also speaks to the limits of her care for others. This absence of unconditional love from a mother figure emphasizes just how empty and dehumanizing the human world of the novella is.