The Metamorphosis

by: Franz Kafka

Alienation

Quotes Alienation
Gregor now stationed himself directly before the living room door, determined to persuade the hesitant visitor to come in or at least discover who it might be, but the door was not opened again and Gregor waited in vain.

The narrator describes an event that clearly reveals the effects Gregor feels after being a bug for one day. All day, Gregor remains in his room, eating food his sister leaves inside his bedroom door. When he thinks he hears someone trying to open his door, he eagerly waits for the person to enter. A bug for only one day, Gregor retains his humanity and feels desperate for social contact.

Although Gregor could get no news directly, he overheard a great deal from the neighboring rooms, and as soon as he heard voices he would run over to the corresponding door and press his entire body against it.

The narrator explains that since none of Gregor’s family members think that he can understand them, and since none of them wish to see him, Gregor gets no updates on his family’s status or news of the outside world. In the beginning, his family mostly discussed Gregor’s transformation and what they should do about his situation. Gregor longs to hear updates and news to remain connected to the world and to others, but he has no way of communicating his needs.

To spare her from even these glimpses, he dragged the sheet to the sofa on his back one day—this required four hours’ work—and laid it in such a way as to conceal himself entirely, so the sister could not see him even if she stooped down.

About a month after Gregor turns into a bug, he understands that his appearance still repulses his sister. Here, the narrator explains that even when he hides under the couch, Gregor knows that she can see a bit of his head, so he begins hiding under a sheet to prevent her from seeing any of him. Even though Gregor wishes to remain a part of his family, he alienates himself further out of love for them.

“Gregor, you!” yelled the sister, glaring fiercely and raising her fist. These were her first direct words to him since the metamorphosis.

Grete yells at Gregor after their mother faints when she sees Gregor on the wall. He notes that no one has spoken to him since his transformation, though he heard his family talk about him plenty. Grete’s words, spoken in disgust and anger, represent the first direct contact a family member makes with him since transforming, revealing the growing lack of human connection with Gregor.

[T]oward evening every day the living room door . . . was opened, so that lying in the darkness of his room and unseen from the living room, he could view the whole family at the brightly lit table and could listen to their conversation more or less with their consent, completely unlike his prior eavesdropping.

Here, the narrator explains how, after Gregor’s father injures him with an apple, Gregor feels satisfied with the compensation for this injury—being able to watch his family from the cover of darkness. Although the situation does not make up for his limited mobility and the fact that his father attempted to kill him, Gregor’s contentment with being able to watch his family reveals his sense of alienation from people in general and his family specifically, as well as his motivation to preserve his relationships.