Killing Indifference in The Metamorphosis
Even before the beginning of the story, each member of the Samsa family in
Franz Kafka¹s Metamorphosis serves a specific purpose. Gregor Samsa, the
tragic protagonist of the story, performs his job with routine precision.
It is this role as a provider that sustains his relationship to his family.
But at the onset of the story, Gregor is inexplicably transformed into a
³gigantic insect.² (p.67) In addition to jeopardizing his role in both
society and work, this transformation severely effects his relationship with
his family. The consequent indifference, alienation, and finally hatred
that he elicits from his family is the source of his demise. For without
the emotional sustenance and the essential role within the family that
Gregor had occupied previous to his metamorphosis, he is not able to sustain
Even after Gregor has become an insect, his initial reaction is not one of
alarm. Surprisingly, his first response is to devise some sort of plan to
secure his job and hence his role in the family. The only call to urgency
that interrupts his ³cool reflection² is the arrival of the chief clerk
(p.73). Accordingly, Gregor laments his fate of ³being condemned to work
for a firm where the smallest omission can give rise to the highest
suspicion² (p.74). It is as if he would most likely entirely overlook his
more immediate and pressing condition of being an insect if it did not
impede his ability to go to work. Gregor, in fact, finally risks bodily harm
only due to the ³agitation² he feels over the thought of his parents
becoming unsettled by their son¹s tardiness and the pres...
... middle of paper ...
implores Grete to her father while she is persuading him to exterminate the
But the damage is already done. The Samsa family¹s exclusion of Gregor is
what causes his demise. Even though the description of his death does
involve physical characteristics, it is Gregor¹s memory of his family that
effects him the most. During his final moments, he describes the apple
which is embedded in his back as ²...hardly troubl[ing] him²(p.127). He
then proceeds to ³[think] of his family with tenderness and love² (p.127).
This thought process represents Gregor¹s need to be at peace with the family
of which he was such an integral part prior to his metamorphosis. For
without the love and affection and nurture that Gregor both provided and
received, he is forced to succumb to his physical demise.
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