Essay on Indifference in Franz Kafka's The Metamorphosis

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Killing Indifference in The Metamorphosis

 

Even before the beginning of the story, each member of the Samsa family in

Franz Kafka¹s Metamorphosis serves a specific purpose. Gregor Samsa, the

tragic protagonist of the story, performs his job with routine precision.

It is this role as a provider that sustains his relationship to his family.

But at the onset of the story, Gregor is inexplicably transformed into a

³gigantic insect.² (p.67) In addition to jeopardizing his role in both

society and work, this transformation severely effects his relationship with

his family. The consequent indifference, alienation, and finally hatred

that he elicits from his family is the source of his demise. For
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Gregor exclaims that ³[his whole future] and his family depended on² whether

or not he would be able to maintain his position as a tedious

salesman(p.84). His awful job as a traveling salesman which provides for

his family is his only pleasure in life. Gregor, in fact, cherishes the

drudgery and silence that his life revolved around prior to his

metamorphosis. ³But what if all the quiet, the comfort, the contentment,

were all to end in horror,² ponders Gregor as he is beginning to experience

the ostracism that accompanies his new physical state (p.89).

And sure enough, Gregor¹s alienation slowly manifests itself in the

attitude of his family and his resulting behavior. He takes refuge under

the sofa only to remove his frightful presence from his family. He

describes himself as being ³comfortable at once, although his back was a

little cramped and he could not lift his head up...² (p.90). It is quite

apparent from this description that he is not comfortable in the least, but

instead, only pleased by his constructed disappearance. Later he reiterates

this fact by bemoaning his only regret, ³that his body was too broad to get

the whole of it under the sofa² (p.90). In addition to taking refuge from

the inevitable hostility that would result from anyone witnessing Gregor¹s

condition, he does
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