Franz Kafka's The Metamorphosis and James Baldwin's Sonny's Blues

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There are many factors that lead to the development of an individual’s identity. Franz Kafka’s “The Metamorphosis” illustrates an extreme change in Gregor Samsa’s external identity and the overall outward effect it has on the development of his family. While James Baldwin’s “Sonny’s Blues” illustrates a young man struggling to find his identity while being pushed around by what society and his family wants him to be. Both of these characters exhibit an underlying struggle of alienation but both also demonstrate a craving for belongingness. This conflict of trying to belong to something as well as satisfying the needs of society, has directly impacted their own individuality and the lives of the people around them. Gregor Samsa, a hard working salesman providing for his family in need, has sacrifice his own freedom for the sake of the survival of his family. As a provider, his family is expecting him to work, be successful, and bring home the wealth. Although Gregor doesn’t enjoy his tedious job in the slightest, he still agrees to do it. This is more influenced by his father’s debt rather than his own morals. “If it weren’t for my parents, I would have quit long ago, I would have gone to the boss and told him off” (Kafka 2). This shows that he is a frustrated individual. Gregor is someone who would likely hold in his own personal feelings to preserve the family name. A night of nightmares later, Gregor awakes to see his many little legs flailing about. He isn’t initially shocked by this horrid transformation and however terrible it looks to him, his primary focus is how is he going to get to work? In spite of everything, he is still in the mindset of working no matter what the cost. After all, he doesn’t want to lose the tr... ... middle of paper ... ...development of your identity. Gregor, the family man, tried as hard as he can to be there for his family. His family is everything he has got and this is his identity. While Sonny, the trouble kid turned musician, abandoned his family’s suggestions and went his own way by keeping true to himself and being dedicative to a specific goal. Both of these characters are polar opposites in a sense that one follows his family and the other does not. But, both characters were forced into difficult situations and both have experienced some sort of sacrifice. Works Cited Mendoza, Ramon G. The Human Vermin: Kafka's Metaphor for Extreme Alienation. N.p.: Salem Press, n.d. Literary Reference Database. Web. 23 Mar. 2014. Murray, Donald C. James Baldwin's 'Sonny's Blues': Complicated and Simple. N.p.: Newberry College, n.d. Literary Reference Database. Web. 23 Mar. 2014.
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