Quotes About Money in The Metamorphosis

Instructor: Tina Miller

Tina earned an MFA in Creative Writing, has several published novels and short stories, and teaches English and writing.

Gregor Samsa is the family breadwinner. That is, until he turns into a beetle. Gregor and his family in Franz Kafka's ''The Metamorphosis'' must adapt, and the quotes about money throughout the story show how successful they are in doing so.


You know, the thing about transforming into a beetle is that you just can't work like you used to. Imagine sitting at a computer screen with your long legs, flickering amidst the keys. Imagine trying to sell anything, even bug repellant, as a travelling salesman. It's just not possible. This is what Gregor Samsa faces the morning he wakes up as a beetle. As his family's sole source of income, his work is important.


Gregor cannot imagine he will be stuck in beetle form forever. He has to go to work somehow. However, such an event prompts Gregor to consider his family's current fiscal situation. ''. . .once I've got the money together to pay off my parents' debt to him - another five or six years I suppose - that's definitely what I'll do. That's when I'll make the big change.'' It is as if transforming into a beetle wasn't a big enough change for him. Of course, while Gregor is looking ahead, he's also reminiscing, proud of his financial successes. He ''. . .felt a great pride that he was able to provide a life like that in such a nice home for his sister and parents.''

Pages from The Metamorphosis
Pages from Metamorphosis

While he does not live the life of luxury of other salesmen, Gregor realizes that hope is not all lost. ''. . .despite all their misfortunes there was still some money available from the old days. It was not a lot, but it had not been touched in the meantime and some interest had accumulated.'' Not only that, Gregor has been saving. They'll be fine, except for the fact that he is now a beetle.


The chief clerk calls upon the Samsa household since Gregor does not report to work. He is there to determine why Gregor is not at work and to determine whether ''it had to do with the money that was recently entrusted '' to him. See, Gregor's employer had lent him and his family money. Gregor had yet to pay it off, and now he's not showing up to work. So much for his savings. Gregor is in a pickle.

Pinching Pennies
Pinching Pennies

As he sits in his bedroom trying to unveil his new persona as a beetle, Gregor attempts to justify his innocence to the clerk. ''You're well aware that I'm seriously in debt to our employer as well as having to look after my parents and my sister, so that I'm trapped in a difficult situation, but I will work my way out of it again.'' Perhaps Gregor and his family are not in as advantageous of a fiscal situation as he thinks.

The more Gregor discloses details of his current currency condition, the more he shows how his family's debt to savings ratio is a bit out of whack. ''Their business misfortune had reduced the family to a state of total despair, and Gregor's only concern at that time had been to arrange things so that they could all forget about it as quickly as possible.'' With such fervor, Gregor had been able to move up from a junior salesman to a traveling representative, which earned him more money.

The more money Gregor earns, the more money he gives to his family. ''They had even got used to it, both Gregor and the family, they took the money with gratitude and he was glad to provide it, although there was no longer much warm affection given in return.'' With insights from the clerk, however, readers recognize that the Samsa family may be living well beyond their means, especially now since Gregor is a beetle.

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