The Metamorphosis

by: Franz Kafka

The Charwoman

This old widow, who must have weathered the worst in her long life with the help of her sturdy bone structure, was not particularly disgusted by Gregor.

The narrator introduces the charwoman whom the family hires to care for Gregor when they no longer can or wish to. The charwoman doesn’t mind dealing with Gregor because her experience with the worst in life desensitizes her to Gregor’s appearance.

Initially she would also call him over to her with words she probably considered friendly, like “Come on over, you old dung beetle!”

When the charwoman begins taking care of Gregor, she proves herself to be very unlike the rest of the family. Unlike Grete, who took pains to never see or speak to Gregor, the charwoman teases him and seems to find the situation funny. Her attitude reveals her ability to accept life as it comes and approach devastating situations with good humor.

She thought he was lying motionless on purpose, pretending to sulk; she imbued him with all manner of intelligence.

The narrator explains that when the charwoman comes across Gregor’s dead body, she at first thinks he is pretending, despite never having communicated with him as either a human or bug. Unlike the family, she understands that Gregor remains conscious of his situation just as when he appeared in human form.