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Free Study Guide-The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka-Online Book Summary
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SECTION 2

Summary

In the evening, Gregor wakes from a deep and unusual slumber, still drowsy and disoriented. The events of the morning have severely damaged his legs, and he is very hungry. To his surprise and delight, he sees that his sister has come into the room sometime while he was sleeping and has left him a bowl of milk and bread. Even though he is starving, the meal that once would have thrilled him tastes repulsive, and he cannot bring himself to eat it. He spends the rest of the night alone, listening to the unreal quiet from his family in the next room. Occasionally, the door is cracked, but no one ventures in. Lonely and nervous, not to mention hungry, Gregor hopes that if he is patient and considerate of his family's fears, he will win them over, and they will feel compassion for him.

The next morning, Grete finds the food that she has left for Gregor untouched. She replaces it with a feast of leftovers from the previous night's meal and quickly leaves. Touched by her thoughtfulness, Gregor waits until she is gone to come out from his hiding place. He then devours the food. Now understanding what he wants to eat, Grete brings him food twice a day, once in the morning and then again after the mid-day meal.

Gregor feels a strong desire to communicate with his family, but they have nothing to do with him. His sister is the only beacon in his dark and lonely life. He looks forward to her coming into his room and listens to her tell the family what he eats. He also overhears his parents talking about what to do and how to cope. It becomes obvious to Gregor that his metamorphosis is creating change in the family. They no longer eat as much, and the maid no longer comes. His mother and sister take on all the housework and cooking, which makes Gregor feel guilty. He does not like to think about his family having to work.


Gregor has plenty of time to think about his life and his family's future. Having been the primary breadwinner for the family, he is naturally concerned about how his mother, father, and sister will survive now that he is in his present state; none of them have worked for the last five years. His father has claimed he is too old to get a job, and his mother and sister want to stay at home. Gregor learns from his eavesdropping, however, that his father has some money in savings. He is very surprised to hear this, for he has worked hard to support them all and even managed to save some money to send his sister off to a Conservatory to study music.

As time passes, Gregor becomes accustomed to his life and the routines of his family. His sister continues to do kind things for him, even though she cannot bring herself to look at or speak to him. She opens the windows for him each day, a gesture which touches Gregor because he knows she has observed him looking out the window. Out of consideration for her, Gregor hides himself when it is time for her to arrive. He can hardly bear the fear in her face when she actually sees him. He loves her more than before, however, because she is the only person he ever sees. One day Grete comes in early with his food, catching Gregor off guard. He has not had time to hide himself, and she is terrified and repulsed at the sight of him; her reaction hurts Gregor immensely. After that, he takes to covering himself with a sheet when she is around. Sometimes he hopes she will pull it off of him, a sign that she is getting used to him, but it never happens.

The family begins to change and adapt to their new lifestyle. Gregor's sister cooks and does housework. His father, who used to claim ill health and old age as excuses for letting Gregor support the family, has gone to work as a porter. Gregor sometimes spies him wearing his brass-buttoned uniform proudly. Gregor longs to see his mother. From time to time he can hear her talking about him and his unfortunate condition, but she never ventures in to see or check on him. One day Grete makes sure Gregor is well hidden and brings his mother into the room. The two women decide to take the furniture, since Gregor has taken to climbing up and down the walls and across the ceiling to entertain himself. At first Gregor is delighted at the thought of them clearing the room; then he is filled with doubt. If they take away all his furniture, then he really is lost to humanity. No trace of his human life will remain. In a panic, he throws himself across the picture of the young woman in furs, hoping his mother and sister will leave that for him as a reminder of his past human form. When his mother and sister come back in the room, he does not hide. It is the first time his mother has seen him in over a month. The shock of it causes her to faint.

In the ensuing chaos, Gregor tears himself away from the wall and rushes out of the room to help his sister find medicine for their mother. Grete is furious with Gregor. She finds the drugs, leaves him in the hallway, and goes into his room, slamming the door shut behind her. Gregor is alone in the hallway, outside his room for the first time in months. After a while, he begins to relax, until he almost forgets the trouble he has inadvertently caused. He is still in the hallway, locked out of his room, when his father comes in. Mr. Samsa immediately jumps to the conclusion that Gregor has intentionally caused all the trouble. In a rage, he chases Gregor back toward his room, throwing apples at him. One by one, the apples hit Gregor with stinging pain. He tries to escape his father's aim, but before he can get away, one of the apples lodges itself in his back. Gregor's mother regains consciousness in time to see this barrage and throws herself at Mr. Samsa, begging him to stop. Gregor escapes into his room and loses consciousness.

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