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The Father in The Metamorphosis: Change & Quotes

Instructor: Margaret Stone

Margaret has taught both college and high school English and has a master's degree in English.

Gregor Samsa's father is prone to physical confrontation with his son in Franz Kafka's 'The Metamorphosis.' Once he can no longer work, Gregor discovers that his father has only pretended to be unable to hold a job.

Father and Son

In Franz Kafka's The Metamorphosis, protagonist Gregor Samsa is no longer employable because he's become an insect. But before his transformation, his father was one of the main reasons that Gregor has had to work so hard. Mr. Samsa, whose first name is never given in the story, owes a debt from his failed business. His son Gregor works as a traveling salesman to help repay his father's debt and to support the entire Samsa family.

Gregor's father, meanwhile, has pretended to be unable to work. Mr. Samsa '. . .used to lie wearily sunk in bed whenever Gregor set out on a business trip,' and he '. . .could not really rise to his feet but only lifted his arms in greeting. . .'

But once Gregor becomes an insect, Mr. Samsa seems well enough to engage in a physical confrontation. When Gregor's new condition is discovered, he drives Gregor back into his room. Gregor become partially stuck under the doorway and suffers a wound to his leg.

Transformation

Once Gregor can no longer support the family, the other members go to work. We learn that Gregor's father has only pretended to be too weak to work, for he soon finds work as a bank attendant. 'Now he was standing there straight as a stick, dressed in a smart blue uniform with gold buttons,' Gregor observes.

Gregor also learns that his father has saved some money. This sum could have been paid toward the debt, thereby lessening the burden on Gregor. Slowly, Gregor begins to realize that his family has been using him. Once he is no longer needed, he is ignored as much as possible by his parents and sister.

Gregor is distressed when his sister and mother decide to move all the furniture out of his room. When his father returns to the house in disarray, his daughter says tells him that Gregor has gotten out of his room. 'Just what I expected,' said his father, 'just what I've been telling you would happen, but you women would never listen.'

When Gregor's father begins to attack him in anger, Gregor realizes how much his father has changed. 'And yet, and yet, could that be his father?' Gregor wonders. 'The man who used to lie wearily sunk in bed whenever Gregor set out on a business trip; who on the evenings of his return welcomed him back lying in an easy chair in his bathrobe; who could not really rise to his feet but only lifted his arms in greeting. . .'

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