What is this book about?
There’s such a focus on the main character’s inability to work and provide for his parents and sister once he has transformed into a gigantic, hideous beetle. Interestingly, he does not support a family of his own making – a wife and kids – but rather the family he’s born into, his Mom & Dad, and his sister. Is this an important distinction?
I glanced and saw a footnote that suggested a meaning inherit in the novel has to do with authority within the family. In this light, what happens to Gregor suggests a failing of character & the loss of masculinity, insofar as he is unable to financially provide for those that depend on him.
His family loathes this insectile being that has replaced their son & brother, and only one can even stand to see only the slightest bit of his body as she goes on to take care of him.
As they get jobs and provide food and shelter for him, he becomes dependent on his family to take care of him – an interesting role reversal. That he cannot speak in a language they understand (“That was the voice of an animal”) is also interesting and emphasizes how outside of the circle he has become. He is very much “other”.
The family never once suggests that this repugnant insect is actually him, Gregor. The only time he was ever personally addressed by anyone, his sister did so in a moment of chaos.
The story ends with Gregor weakened, unwittingly taking his last breathe, and discovered dead by a jubilant housekeeper. This occurs in conjunction with the family having decided they must rid of him, this bastard version of the person that went missing that isn’t even the real Gregor in the first place.
I’m not entirely sure what to think of this novel. I have to think Kafka is playing with themes surrounding the exploited worker, the degrading nature of work and its effects on workers and their families, along with the loss of the (male) workers humanity/masculinity & role as the bread-winner and financial provider for the family.
Fun & grotesque, the latter being a little shocking (I have to imagine so for its time). And last but not least, super short, read in its entirely in one sitting while I listened to Between the Buried & Me’s Alaska on vinyl for the first time in awhile.
– Does the rotting apple stuck to his back suggest moral decay?
– The emphasis at the end with the parents noticing how their daughter has changed was odd to me. Another metamorphosis?