The Metamorphosis, by Franz Kafka, portrays the life of Gregor Samsa after he has been transformed into a beetle like insect. Many changes occur throughout this story, mainly with Gregor, but with in his family as well. Gregor remained a static character in this story, although he physically changed, his attitude and feelings toward his family did not. While Gregor was adjusting to his transformation he remained a self-sacrificing person. He did not worry about his own well being, but constantly thought of how his family would survive without his help.
Throughout the story, many examples of Gregor’s self-sacrificing attitude were given. Starting from the first day that Gregor realized he had transformed into a beetle, his main concern was for his family. Ever since his father’s business had gone bankrupt, Gregor supported his family financially. He hated his job as a traveling salesman, but he was willing to sacrifice his happiness so that his family was well taken care of. Gregor’s first obstacle to overcome was to get out of bed. Learning to adjust to his new body was difficult for him.
So he had to encourage himself. “Just don’t stay in bed being useless” he had told himself. The thought of being useless toward his family was his motivation to get out of bed. Gregor knew that he had to get up to go to work. Without his job he could not support his family. The whole time that Gregor was struggling to get out of bed, he was thinking “I am under so many obligations to the head of the firm…I also have my parents and sister to worry about. ” With little concern for his well being, Gregor shows his dedication to his family.
By now Gregor’s family had become used to him providing for them. The book mentions that “the money was received with thanks and given with pleasure, but no special feeling of warmth went with it anymore. ” His family did not even realize how much they had grown to depend on Gregor’s income to support them. Then took his help for granted, and do not realize their dependency until Gregor can no longer support them. When Gregor’s family sees him as a beetle for the first time, he tried to call out to his mother and try to comfort her. But Gregor’s father locks him in his room.
Once again Gregor is thinking of his family’s well being by trying to comfort them through the shock of his appearance. Gregor could have easily taken pity on himself and thought about how bad the situation was for him, but he did not do that, he thought of his family and how difficult it must be for them to deal with this change. While Gregor was locked in his room, he was thinking of how “…he felt very proud that he had been able to provide such a life in so nice an apartment for his parents and his sister.
But what now if all the peace, the comfort, the contentment were to come to a horrible end? Still Gregor was worried about his family. Not at all concerned about himself, not the fat that he is an insect even. He does not care about what he is going through, he just adjusts to the change and continues to try and help his family. Another time Gregor’s self-sacrifice was shown was when his sister would bring him food and clean his room. Gregor knew that the sight of him probably scared her, so he would hide as much of his body that he could under the couch.
The story tells that “…it took great self-control for him to stay under the couch even for the short time his sister was in the room. So once again Gregor is putting his family before himself. He could of stayed out in plain view, but he was thoughtful of his sister and hid to help his sister feel more comfortable while in his room. Later in the story, Gregor makes a bigger attempt to spare her even the sight of him. “One day he carried the sheet on his back to the couch – the job took four hours – and arranged it in such a way he was now completely covered up…” Gregor was willing to go through four tedious hours of work to make sure his sister could not see him.
Toward the end of the story, when Gregor could no longer get around, he “…spent the days and nights almost entirely without sleep. Sometimes he thought that the next time the door opened he would take charge of the family’s affairs again, just as he had done in the old days…” Even up to the point where Gregor is dying, his thoughts were still on his family. Maybe since Gregor had only worried about their wants and needs for so long, he was not used to thinking about himself. Maybe he knew no other way to live life. In the beginning of the story Gregor’s sister had been the one to feed him and to clean his room.
But as the story goes on “…his sister…hurriedly shoved any old food into Gregor’s room…the cleaning up of Gregor’s room…could not be done more hastily…” So as the story continues, his sister, who had once been so kind and thoughtful, “…had gotten fed up with taking care of Gregor. ” After everything Gregor had ever done for her, she could not take the time to care for him. She didn’t even think of him as her brother, Gregor, just as a man sized insect. Often she refers to Gregor as “it”, she says “I won’t pronounce the name of my brother in front of this monster, and so all I say is: we have to try to get rid of it.
We’ve done everything humanly possible to take care of it and to put up with it; I don’t think anyone can blame us in the least. ” So instead of trying to cope with the insect, that was once her brother, she deems it necessary to get rid of it. Grete, Gregor’s sister, proves herself to be selfish and uncaring at the end of the story, whereas Gregor still remains selfless. In Gregor’s last few minutes of life, “He thought back on his family with deep emotion and love. ” It seemed that Gregor’s love was only received and not returned. He did everything possible to provide for his family.
When there was nothing more He could physically do for his family, he still worried about their well-being. His family only worried about themselves and how they would be effected because of Gregor’s transformation. They never considered what would happen to Gregor, or even why it happened to him. They just went on with their lives. Gregor was a very self-sacrificing person and insect. His concern and love for his family never changed even though he did, and he proved that until the day he died. It seems he could have died from a broken heart and a broken home.