Literature Study GuidesThe MetamorphosisPart 2 Gregor Reflects On His Family Summary

The Metamorphosis | Study Guide

Franz Kafka

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Course Hero, "The Metamorphosis Study Guide," July 28, 2016, accessed December 19, 2018, https://www.coursehero.com/lit/The-Metamorphosis/.

The Metamorphosis | Part 2 (Gregor Reflects on His Family) | Summary

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Summary

Although Gregor can understand what his family says, they no longer speak to him, believing he cannot make sense of human words. Gregor notices this developing habit—and observes, too, a lack of conversation by his family, who now eat meals in near silence. On the very first day of his metamorphosis, Gregor overhears his father discussing their finances and learns that his family's finances are better off than he imagined. Although his former business suffered a serious misfortune, Mr. Samsa had kept some investments that had grown over time. Likewise, Gregor's success as a traveling salesman—and his unwillingness to spend money on himself—created a surplus from which the family could now pull. Gregor briefly wonders why his father, who owes a debt to Gregor's boss, did not use his nest egg to pay off that debt, allowing Gregor to quit his job sooner. However, Gregor concludes that "now it was certainly better the way his father had done things."

Thinking about his family, Gregor wonders whether his 17-year-old sister, a gifted violinist, will need to find a job and support his family. He worries about his parents' health, noticing his father's lack of energy and the extra weight he has put on over his last five years of not working, along with the weak, frail nature of his aging mother. Thoughts like these keep Gregor up all hours of the night.

Gregor's sister continues to care for her brother, but Gregor can see that she is uncomfortable around him. She opens the window for fresh air every time she enters his room. Gregor, in turn, starts to hide under the sofa, with as much of his body covered by a sheet as he can manage. He reasons, "If she did not think this sheet was necessary then all she had to do was take it off again." His sister does not attempt to move the sheet to look at Gregor after that, although Gregor believes he once "glimpsed a look of gratitude."

Analysis

Gregor's worries and guilt are described in this section: "Whenever they began to talk of the need to earn money, Gregor ... became quite hot with shame and regret." At the same time, as he learns more about his family's finances through the crack in the door, his reflections on his years of toil are tinged with resentment. He senses a lack of gratitude for his labors, which turned "his success at work straight into cash that he could lay on the table at home for the benefit of his astonished and delighted family." So while Gregor has been supporting his family all these years, his relationship with them has been deteriorating: "They took the money with gratitude ... although there was no longer much warm affection given in return."

Gregor also learns that his father has been socking away money that could have gone to reduce his father's debt, thus bringing "the day when he could have freed himself from the job ... much closer." As such, Gregor's father has played a role in Gregor's misery.

Gregor's sense of worth seems to have come from his ability to provide for his seemingly helpless family, including his sister. He characterizes his sister as rather frivolous and dependent: "her life up till then had been very enviable, consisting of wearing nice clothes, sleeping late, helping out in the business, joining in with a few modest pleasures and most of all playing the violin."

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