What kind of insect is Gregor?

Kafka never specifies exactly what kind of insect Gregor turns into, although he does offer some physical descriptions of him at various points in the novella. In the original German text, Kafka describes Gregor as an “ungeheueren Ungeziefer” in the opening sentence while different English translation use phrases such as “giant insect,” “horrible vermin,” or “monstrous vermin.” He has a broad, hard back, a segmented belly, and many little legs, characteristics which seem to be attributes of a cockroach or beetle of some kind. The charwoman refers to Gregor as a “dung-beetle,” but this description is not necessarily an accurate identification of his species. 

How/why does Gregor transform into an insect?

Kafka does not offer a clear reason for why Gregor transforms into an insect. Gregor himself asks “What happened to me?” when he wakes up and becomes aware of his metamorphosis, suggesting that he did not consciously do anything to alter his state of being. What Kafka metaphorically implies, however, is that Gregor’s life as an undervalued traveling salesman and provider for his ungrateful family influences his metamorphosis. He becomes the thing that his culture views him as, an insignificant, non-human being unworthy of care.

How does Grete change over the course of the story?

Grete experiences her own metamorphosis throughout the novella, growing from a young girl into a woman with her own adult responsibilities. At the beginning of the story, she pities her brother and takes care of him when no one else will, bringing him different things to eat to figure out what he likes and cleaning his room. These responsibilities begin to define Grete’s role in the family, and she continues to fulfill them despite her decreasing sympathy for her brother. Once she begins working a job of her own to support the family, her resentment towards her role as Gregor’s caretaker grows, and she ultimately declares that the family needs to get rid of him. In the novella’s final moments, Mr. and Mrs. Samsa look at Grete and admire her beauty and youthful body, observations which suggest that she may replace Gregor as the family’s exploited source of social or financial support.

Why does Gregor’s father throw an apple at him?

As Gregor’s mother and sister argue over the removal of furniture from his room, Gregor leaves his space in an attempt to save some of his belongings from being discarded. While he is out, his mother spots him, cries out in horror, and faints. Gregor’s father walks in on this scene and, assuming that Gregor committed some act of aggression, begins to throw the apples from the sideboard at him. Despite Gregor’s attempts to flee back to his room, his pace is slow enough that he continues to face an onslaught of apples, one of which becomes painfully lodged in his back. This attack represents the lack of humanity that Gregor’s father feels toward his son.

What happens to Gregor at the end of the story?

As the novella draws to a close, Gregor finds himself growing weaker and weaker as a result of starvation. He rarely touches the scraps of food brought to him, and the overall neglect that he experiences begins to take a toll on his body. Once Grete declares that the family must get rid of him, they lock Gregor back up in his room. His legs give out and his body aches, but as he lays on the floor, he thinks fondly of his parents and sister and finds himself at peace. Gregor hears a nearby clock tower strike three in the morning, draws a final breath, and dies. The charwoman finds his body the next day and disposes of it.