Natarajan 1

Indi Natarajan
Mr. M. Harvey
English 2, Pre-IB
16 March 2004
In Kafka’s “The Metamorphosis”, the main character Gregor Samsa wakes
up to
find himself transformed into an enormous bug. This sudden change, however,
is not the
beginning of his isolation from his family. The book starts out in a
setting most would
consider the starting point of seclusion, yet they will find later on that
is not so. There are
many events leading up to his physical change, but in reality the way he is
treated changes in no drastic way whatsoever. The harsh conditions of his
job and his family’s dwindling appreciation for the money he provides them
are main
issues that precede Gregor’s actual transformation.

One form of isolation during the years advancing Gregor’s physical
change was
his life at home. Gregor loved his family and desperately wanted to keep
them happy,
healthy, and safe; yet to accomplish all of this with only his providing of
money took a
lot of work. Slowly he drowned himself in work, for the good of the family;
but at the
same time they slowly drowned him out of their affairs. His father had
always given
Gregor the idea that they were in desperate need of money, but it wasn’t
until he was a
bug that he realized he was wrong in thinking “his father had not been able
to save a
penny”. Strangely, however, Gregor was not upset at the thought of being
misled by his
father to work even more strenuously when the family didn’t gravely need
money. He
Natarajan 2
thought of it as “the first pleasant news he had heard since his
imprisonment”. As his
family began isolating him from their life, Gregor began to have plenty of
time on his
hands to think of issues concerning him, often reminiscing of the old days.

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At times he
would recall the “special up rush of warm feelings” that used to surround
him when
delivering the hard earned cash to his family. He thought of how their
appreciation had
dwindled. Not that they weren’t grateful, but that they had simply accepted
the fact that
Gregor now took care of them. Although he was never upset at the subsiding
for his work, he did resent that his family had “simply gotten used to it”.

They eventually
started regarding him as just being there. He was now neither their son nor
instead he became the Gregor who pays for food and lives upstairs.

Gregor’s job as a traveling salesman, “day in, day out – on the
road”, left him
with no time for himself, his friends, or his family. On a normal day,
Gregor would
awaken around 4 o’clock, catch a train at 5 o’clock and return for lunch
just in time to see
other salesmen just awakening. He was completely devoted to his job; in
fact “during the
five years with the firm Gregor had not been sick even once”. His boss,
however, still
kept a messenger boy waiting at the train stop to assure him of Gregor’s
arrival. This
shows that throughout all the years Gregor had worked with the firm, they
have yet to
treat him human and perhaps to trust his coming to work. He often wondered
why he
picked such a “grueling job”, but deep down he knew he had to pay off his
parents’ six
year debt. Gregor vowed that after he “got the money together to pay off
his parents’ debt
to his boss” he would no longer stand for any of the heartless qualities
associated with the
job and would quit. The inhumanness of his job really became apparent when
Natarajan 3
recounted the terrible things he’s forced to do every day: “torture of
traveling, worrying
about changing trains, eating miserable food at all hours, constantly
seeing new faces, no
relationships that last or get more intimate”. Obviously during work these
things were
major contributors to Gregor’s isolation, and the conditions under which
Gregor is
supposed to work leave him with no time outside of his job.

Gregor’s life revolved completely around his family, and he tried as
hard as he
could to provide them with a care-free life. In all the ways he could
imagine he created
exactly what he wanted: his sister’s life “consisted of wearing pretty
clothes, sleeping
late, helping in the house, enjoying a few modest amusements, and above all
playing the
violin”. Gregor had also gone a step further and stored some money away,
planning to
send his sister to the Conservatory where she could study music. Besides
all the
wonderful things he tried to do; Gregor had gone over the top in trying too
hard to supply
to his family a perfect life where they didn’t have to do any work. Because
he tried to
carry the whole burden of his family on his shoulders, he became over-
worked at his job
and his family began taking advantage of him. Gregor became isolated far
earlier than
when his physical appearance changed, he was outcast when he buried himself
in his
work and lost contact with his family and society.


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