The following passage is a scene between Grete and her father – her mother will not be in this scene. Her father is struggling to comprehend Gregor’s metamorphosis but is more concerned about how the family will survive monetarily whilst Grete quietly mourns her brother’s transformation. My intention was to capture the boorishness of Gregor’s father which we see later on in the story when he flings an apple at Gregor, fatally wounding him. Gregor’s father is a somewhat defeated man due to the failure of his business and so, whilst his son works at a demoralising place with an unsatisfactory job, he lounges about. This may be due to his ill health but after Gregor’s transformation he does manage to regain his confidence and desire to work. This is partly represented by his “smart blue uniform with gold buttons” replacing his old overcoat. Indeed the gold buttons could be seen as a sign of his replenished sense of pride.
Grete has a good relationship with her brother and cared for him deeply, as seen early on in the text. Gregor is locked in the room and she asks him, “Oh Gregor? Are you not well? Can I bring you anything?” Despite initially being fearful of the cockroach, she takes on the role of Gregor’s carer. Gregor believes that the reasons for Grete assisting him are a mixture of devotion, due to the memory of their relationship, and her youthfulness. Grete flourishes as a person and displays her ability to take on the responsibility of dealing with a dilemma such as Gregor. This is unlike her parents who, in the text, seem incapable of dealing with the issue themselves. In the passage we also see Grete with her violin. This is a symbol of the strong relationship between Grete and her brother since he admires her music to the point where, as it states later on in the text, he wishes to send her to the Conservatorium. This seems to be the only way in which both Gregor and Grete rebel as, “their parents disliked even innocent references” to the Conservatorium.
My aim is to capture Kafka’s use of simple and clear prose. The resonance of the declarative opening line, “When Gregor Samsa awoke one morning from troubled dreams, he found himself changed into a monstrous cockroach in his bed,” is perhaps the only startling or unexpected line in Metamorphosis and my pastiche has been written to continue with this lack of eventfulness. In the text speech is always followed by actions and so I have tried to emulate this narrative style of writing in my characterisation of Grete and her father. Kafka employs this style of writing through the use of an omniscient third-person. This is particularly true in regards to Gregor but in my passage I employ this technique for Grete and her father. The opening paragraph is also very long so as to annunciate the characters’ confusion, as Kafka does for Gregor who remains in a constant state of confusion due to his state.
In this pastiche I have also touched on a theme that appears in Metamorphosis; that of the effect of financial hardships on relationships. In the text, Gregor is merely seen as a means to make money and so when he undergoes a metamorphosis, he is treated with contempt. In my passage I have shown this contempt through Gregor’s father as he is the main reason why Gregor had to do a job he hates in the first place. Furthermore, I will highlight the fact that income is the most important issue according his father and this makes up a large part of his dialogue with Grete in the pastiche. This is to mimic way in which Kafka highlighted the fact that the characters are only deemed valuable as long as they can maintain a salary.
With her mother having retreated to her bed in order to recover from the sight of the cockroach, Grete went into her room herself and had barely closed the door when her father came hurrying in, closing the door shut. His eyes were red but before he could say a word Grete said, quite calmly: “Mother is in bed, I ought to be bringing her some medicine.” Grete walked to her drawer and extracted from it the medicine that she kept for her mother. Making her way to the door, her father stopped her. “That can wait,” replied her father. “I fear there are more pressing issues at hand.” Taking in what her father had just said, Grete silently proceeded to open her wardrobe and retrieved the fragile case in which was her violin. “Must you bring that out?” her father asked. She sat on her bed and opened the case to reveal the violin, which was free of the hardships experienced by its case.
Grete took the violin out of the case and plucked the strings, making sure that they were note perfect. However, her distraction proved temporary as her father took the violin out of her hand and placed it firmly in its case. Snatching his daughter’s hand he stared at her with puffy eyes and hissed: “Your brother is sick, in case you didn’t notice, music at this time is somewhat inappropriate.” As these words left his lips her father slumped onto the floor, once again in tears. Not wanting to look at her father, Grete placed a solitary hand on his shoulder and stared at the ceiling. There was a cobweb in one of the corners. Looking at the cobweb she once again saw the repulsive image of the cockroach which had replaced her brother. Finally looking at her father, she studied his broken face and began to weep. But her tears were not for her father but for her brother whom she imagined was most likely bewildered and in pain, after her father’s brutish attack.
Her mind then turned to the image of her mother fainting after the shock of seeing her son and sole breadwinner turned into a monstrous state. No doubt she would blame herself and her husband for finally destroying Gregor. Grete herself knew that he was always never content with having to spend his days travelling, selling goods of little use. But no, that wasn’t her brother, it couldn’t be. What man wakes up to find that he has turned into a cockroach? Perhaps it was all an elaborate joke – though Gregor was never one to joke. Perhaps he had fled and instead replaced himself with a cockroach, in rebellion for their over-reliance on him. But she had seen that vile thing and it could only have been her brother. Of course, she could not comprehend a single thing that came out of his mouth but still that cockroach was surely Gregor. The way it pursued that clerk was Gregor through and through. Always trying to reason, always having to plead his case. Grete removed her hand from her father’s shoulder and walked to her drawer. From it she took out the medicine which she kept for her mother and went to her bedroom.
After giving her the medicine Grete went back to her room to find her father pacing the room. “Since that cockroach is of no use, we will have to find some way to forge an income,” he said calmly. “God knows what caused this monstrosity to be bestowed on our family but we must not allow this burden to be the ruin of us.” Grete remained silent and this annoyed her father. “Perhaps this is a sign of things to come. Perhaps I can start afresh, all of us in fact.” Mr Samsa looked at his daughter and with mild regret, wished that she had been born a man. “You could perhaps put down that violin and find some work,” he said pointedly. “It is about time that you helped to reduce our debt.” Grete didn’t bother to conceal her raised eyebrow and for a second Mr Samsa considered throwing an object at his daughter. Deciding against this, however, he merely took her violin out of its case and stared at it. Grete eyed her father and said, “Father, as repulsive as that thing may be, it is my brother. Please do not strike it again.” At this her father scoffed and stared in Grete’s direction, hands clasped together. “That creature you speak of so lovingly is no more your brother than I,” he retorted bluntly. Mr Samsa stood up and made for the door.
Turning around, he addressed Grete saying: “As I said before, I suggest you look for work, we are going to need to support ourselves.” At that he left, closing the door behind him. Grete fell onto her bed but she did not weep. Contemplating what had become of her family over the years, she sat down. Her mother seemed to be getting weaker and weaker and her brother was a cockroach. As for her father, well it seemed that this would inevitably push him into a further decline. Grete turned her head and saw her violin case, slightly ajar. She went over to it and corrected the violin’s position, closed the case and put it back in her wardrobe. She sighed and thought about something Gregor had said. Smiling she said to herself: “He is right; perhaps it is time I got married.” She then made her way to the kitchen, to get some milk for Gregor.