The Metamorphosis

by: Franz Kafka

Part 1

Summary Part 1

In this section, we also begin to learn the details of Gregor’s human life, and we get the first glimpses into his feeling of alienation from those around him. As Gregor lies in bed, unable to get himself up, he begins thinking of his job as a traveling salesman, and we learn that he only continues at it because of his parents’ debt. In fact, he greatly dislikes the office manager, who has come to the house to check on him. Furthermore, the friendships he makes because of his work are only casual and never intimate, since he must always be traveling. The mother hints at Gregor’s lack of friends when she tries to explain to the office manager what a good employee Gregor is. She says Gregor never goes out in the evenings, but sits home reading a newspaper or checking the train timetables, suggesting that Gregor already lives predominantly in isolation. Now, Gregor is no longer even physically human. In his new form, he is unable to go to work, and his voice is so altered that he can’t even communicate with those around him. In addition, when he opens the door and the office manager and his family members see him, they are horrified, and together these details foreshadow that Gregor’s isolation from other people will only continue to grow.

The section also establishes the motif of money in the story, and hints at the major role money plays in the Samsa family. Gregor’s greatest concern after discovering his metamorphosis is that he will lose his job, which we quickly learn he only continues at so he can pay off his parents’ debt. (We also know that debt is substantial since he says it will take him five or six years to pay it off.) As the section continues, we receive indications that, of the members of the Samsa family, only Gregor works, and that the father stays at home. Though it remains unclear at this point why the family is in so much debt, it is evident that they are not wealthy and that their debts hamper them. Because he is responsible for paying these debts, Gregor feels trapped in his job. Finally, the office manager also brings up money when he tells Gregor that the chief suspects him of stealing from the company.