The Metamorphosis

by: Franz Kafka

Gregor Samsa

“What if I went back to sleep for a while and forgot all this foolishness,” he thought. However, this was totally impracticable, as he habitually slept on his right side, a position he could not get into in his present state; no matter how forcefully he heaved himself to the right, he rocked onto his back again.

Gregor rationally concludes he must be imagining that he has woken up in the body of a bug. He doesn’t seem particularly convinced by what he sees until experiencing the inconvenience of his unaccustomed sleep position. Gregor’s reaction to his transformation reflects his typical calm and patience in the face of hardship, an almost ridiculous reaction to his circumstances.

These were surely unnecessary worries at the moment. Gregor was still here and would not think of deserting his family.

Gregor overhears his sister crying when the head clerk from Gregor’s office comes to check on his tardiness. Gregor assumes she worries about him losing his job, which would result in the family suffering financial ruin. Here, he dismisses these worries in his mind and feels confident that he can make it to work despite his condition, which shows his deep devotion to his family.

For now he must lie low and try, through patience and the greatest consideration, to help his family bear the inconvenience he was bound to cause them in his present condition.

While locked in his room, Gregor wonders if any of his family members will come to see him but makes the decision to be patient with them. He quickly accepts that he has caused them “inconvenience,” because they completely depend on him. Clearly, Gregor’s identity remains intact despite his new physical form, as he prioritizes his family’s happiness over his own.

And so he began to work with consuming energy and was promoted, almost overnight, from a minor clerk to a traveling salesman with much greater potential to earn money, and his success was soon transformed, by way of commission, into cash that he could then lay on the table before the astonished and delighted family.

Here, Gregor recalls how he rose in the ranks of his company after his parents’ financial ruin. He notes that he never asked his father about the specifics of their financial situation, but immediately got to work and was intent on succeeding. Gregor seems to have been motivated not only by the need for money, but also by the immense pride he felt by providing for his family.

Gregor spent the days and nights almost entirely without sleep. Sometimes he mulled over the idea that the next time the door opened he would take control of the family affairs as he had done in the past[.]

Gregor describes the pain he feels when his sister closes the door to his room at night. He fixates on the idea that he should be taking care of his family as he did before, which shows how wrapped up his identity remains with being a provider.