The Metamorphosis | Study Guide

Franz Kafka

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The Metamorphosis | Part 2 (A New Routine) | Summary



After a long, deep sleep, Gregor awakens later that day to find that one of his legs, injured by his father, drags along lifelessly. He realizes he is incredibly hungry and spots a bowl of his favorite dish, sweetened milk, likely left by his sister. He starts lapping it up but finds he no longer likes the taste. To avoid worrying about his family and how they will get by without his income, Gregor crawls around his room and experiments with using his antennae and legs.

His sister enters his room but closes the door suddenly, shocked by her brother's transformed appearance. She reenters to find the bowl of milk untouched, picks it up, and returns with water and leftovers—half-rotten vegetables, bones, cheese, a dry roll. She then leaves Gregor to eat in private, locking his door on her way out. Eating voraciously, Gregor discovers he likes the half-rotten food far more than fresh food, and he lounges lethargically, nearly comatose, to digest his hefty, satisfying meal.

When Grete returns, she picks up the scraps and dishes and exits. And so begins a routine in which Grete feeds her brother once in the morning, while her parents and Anna, their servant, are still sleeping, and another time in the afternoon, when they are taking naps or out running errands.


As the story progresses Gregor grows more accustomed to his new body and, in many ways, seems more at peace with his life as an insect than as a traveling salesman. He reflects on how quickly his injured leg heals, compared with a slight knife cut a month earlier on his human finger, which hurt for days. Likewise, he eats the rotten scraps left by his sister with "his eyes watering with pleasure," which differs greatly from his experience eating "bad and irregular food" as a salesman. These instances suggest that Gregor's metamorphosis from human to bug is nearly complete.

Gregor sees his sister as being very considerate, but the narrator hints that she is revolted by her brother's appearance. She lifts his untouched milk bowl with a cloth, not with her hands, then "out of consideration for Gregor's feelings, as she knew that he would not eat in front of her, she hurried out again and even turned the key in the lock so that Gregor would know he could make things as comfortable for himself as he liked." Unlike Gregor, the reader realizes that Grete cannot wait to get out of the room and wants to keep Gregor imprisoned in it.

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