HomeLiterature Study GuidesThe MetamorphosisPart 2 Gregors Mother Comes To His Room Summary

The Metamorphosis | Study Guide

Franz Kafka

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The Metamorphosis | Part 2 (Gregor's Mother Comes to His Room) | Summary

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Summary

While Grete tends to and cleans up after Gregor, Mr. and Mrs. Samsa avoid Gregor's bedroom for two weeks. Gregor learns that his mother wants to visit him, but his sister and father keep her away, fearing she cannot handle it. One day, however, Grete brings her mother to help rearrange furniture in her brother's room, believing the open space will make it easier for him to pursue his latest pastime: crawling about his walls, ceiling, and floors (and Gregor inwardly agrees). Before she lets her mother enter, however, she ensures Gregor is nowhere to be seen.

While the two push and heave at Gregor's chest of drawers, Mrs. Samsa questions her daughter's judgment: "By taking the furniture away, won't it seem like we're showing that we've given up all hope of improvement ... we're abandoning him to cope for himself?" Gregor realizes his mother is right, but Grete presses on. Gregor grows frustrated with Grete's control of the situation. She plans to move his writing desk, where he has spent years of study. In a state of exasperation, Gregor comes out of his hiding place, scurries about, and makes his way to the framed advertisement of the lady in furs, his favorite possession. He stretches across the picture to shield it, enjoying the cooling effect of the glass on his hot belly.

Grete tries unsuccessfully to block Gregor from their mother's sight. With a loud shriek, Mrs. Samsa faints. Grete glares and yells at her brother. Mr. Samsa (who now has a job) returns home from work. Gregor notices how well he looks in his new uniform. Seeing the state of his wife, Mr. Samsa begins raging at Gregor, who in all the confusion has run out of his room, crawled to the ceiling, and fallen on the dining room table. Mr. Samsa launches fruit at his son, and one apple lodges itself in Gregor's back. Gregor, in immense pain and unable to move, notices his sister screaming while his mother begs his father to spare Gregor's life.

Analysis

As Part 2 progresses Gregor seems more and more comfortable with his metamorphosis. But the process comes to a halt when his mother enters his room for the first time in 14 days. As soon as he hears her voice, he realizes how much he has forgotten about his human life. He quickly transitions from wanting his room cleared out so he can frolic freely as a bug to not wanting a single possession removed.

Gregor's characterizations of Grete become more and more condescending. When Grete argues against his mother visiting, he says "for all her courage, [she] was still just a child after all, and really might not have had an adult's appreciation of the burdensome job she had taken on." When Grete insists on moving Gregor's furniture to give him more room to crawl, Gregor thinks, "Girls of that age ... do become enthusiastic about things and feel they must get their way whenever they can." Rather than seeing Grete as helpful, capable, and protective of her parents, he insists on seeing her as childishly perverse.

Gregor's increasingly belittling comments about his sister do not come out of nowhere. Like Gregor, Grete has changed, and these changes threaten to create a new pecking order. Previously, Gregor's characterization of his sister's frivolity had apparently been shared by his parents, who "had seen her as a girl who was somewhat useless and frequently been annoyed with her." Now, however, Grete has a purpose in life, and just as Gregor once did, she receives her parents' gratitude: "He would often hear them say how they appreciated all the new work his sister was doing." Gregor can see that Grete relishes her role as the expert on her brother's care.

This section reveals that Mr. Samsa too has undergone a transformation. For one, he now leaves the house each day for work. And to Gregor, he looks like an altogether different man: "He was standing up straight enough now." Gregor notices as his father, in a fit of anger, comes after his son, "his normally unkempt white hair was combed down painfully close to his scalp." Mr. Samsa's new job gives him a sense of purpose. He has resumed the role of family provider, confirming Gregor's uselessness.

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