The Metamorphosis

by: Franz Kafka

Important Quotations Explained

Quotes Important Quotations Explained
2. At that time Gregor’s sole desire was to do his utmost to help the family to forget as soon as possible the catastrophe that had overwhelmed the business and thrown them all into a state of complete despair.

The narrator recounts these details about Gregor and the family in Part 2, as Gregor overhears the father explaining the family’s financial situation to Grete and the mother. The failure of the father’s business five years earlier essentially created the family dynamic that we see at the beginning of the story and explains Gregor’s vital role in the family. Because the business failed, the father no longer works, and he appears depressed and lethargic. One early image we have of the father comes from Gregor, who thinks of him lingering for hours over his breakfast and dozing off during the day. Gregor, meanwhile, feels responsible for the family’s wellbeing as its only source of income. This fact explains why his greatest concern after his transformation is whether he will be punished or fired for not going to work on time, despite the fact that he greatly dislikes his job.

These circumstances play a significant role in Gregor’s feelings of alienation. Because of his job, which requires that he travel constantly, Gregor cannot develop relationships, and so he has no close friends. As the mother tells the office manager when he comes to check on Gregor, Gregor spends most evenings in the house reading the newspaper or checking the train timetables. Moreover, Gregor feelings of alienation from his parents also stem from the family’s financial circumstances. When he first started earning money to support the family, his parents showed a great deal of gratitude, which Gregor enjoyed. But as Gregor and the parents became accustomed to the new family dynamic in which Gregor was now the breadwinner, the parents gratitude gradually diminished and Gregor no longer felt the same feeling of joy in providing for them. The text says he only remained intimate with Grete, suggesting that he and his parents grew apart as a result.