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Free Study Guide-The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka-Online Book Summary
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SECTION 3

Summary

This section opens on a somber note. Gregor is seriously wounded, with an apple lodged in his back. He cannot remove the offensive fruit since he has no hands, and his family does not dare to come close enough to him to remove it. His back begins to fester from the imbedded apple, but no one does a thing. His family does, however, endure his presence now, as if in compensation for the injury done to him. Every night before dark, the door to his room is opened, and he is allowed to sit in the dark, out of sight, and observe his family, all of whom are tense and say little. He learns that his sister has taken a job as a clerk, and his mother sews underwear for a local store. His father, weary from his work as a porter, always falls asleep in his chair.

Gregor observes that the favors from Grete have vanished. She has allowed his room to get dirty and now only feeds him once a day. A new cleaning lady has been hired to work in the house. She comes into his room everyday to insult Gregor, unabashed by his giant bug body. Three boarders have also come to live in the house, and Gregor's room has been reduced to a dumping place for old and excess furniture. The attention the three lodgers get in the house irritates Gregor. He observes that the family has given them the best places at the dinner table and caters to their every whim.

One evening Grete plays the violin at the request of the boarders. Gregor thinks the lodgers do not appreciate her talents. Gregor, however, enjoys the music immensely, remembering fondly his wish to send Grete to a Conservatory. He listens to her and imagines she will come into his room and play for him and only him, but it does not happen. Gregor reflects on his sister's gentle nature and her past kindnesses to him. Filled with sorrow that he cannot speak to her, he has a strong desire to be near her. Overwhelmed by his love and admiration for Grete, he leaves his room to go to her, forgetting that the boarders do not know of his existence. When they spy him, they are shocked and express their discomfort about living in the Samsa household amongst insects. They refuse to pay for their lodging and threaten the family with a court notice.


Grete is horrified that Gregor has emerged from his room and voices her loathing for the bug. She tells the family that this insect simply cannot be her brother and that they should all stop acting as if he were. She says if the bug were Gregor, it would love the family enough to go away, seeing the pain it is causing them. Her cruel words mark the climax of the story, for Gregor is devastated by her thoughts. Totally dejected, he tries to make his way back to his room and frightens Grete in the process. He realizes with incredible sadness that she cannot bear his presence at all. When he gets to his room at last, he shuts the door and Grete makes sure it is locked.

Alone again, unable to move because the room has become so cluttered with furniture, Gregor reflects on his situation. He thinks about his family with "deep emotion and love." He grows calm, almost peaceful in his thoughts. Then as night turns to morning, Gregor shudders his last breath and dies.

The next day the cleaning lady finds Gregor dead in his room. Mr. and Mrs. Samsa wake to hear the news, followed by Grete. Mr. Samsa offers a prayer of thanks to God, and all three of them smile somberly. When the three lodgers emerge from their room and ask for breakfast, Gregor's father suddenly loses his tolerance for them. He forces them to leave the house at once, without explanation and without breakfast. The cleaning lady comes in and announces that she has swept Gregor's body out with the trash; the news does not affect the family. Instead, they tell the maid that her services are no longer needed.

The Samsas want to get away, to recover from the recent strain in their lives. They sit down and write letters to their employers, explaining they will not come to work today, for they are taking a trip to the country. On the train they discuss their jobs and the possibility of moving to a new place. Mr. and Mrs. Samsa also note that their daughter is now a young woman, quite lovely and eligible. As the train reaches the countryside, Kafka ends the story abruptly with an image of Grete: "And it was like a confirmation of their new dreams and good intentions when at the end of the ride their daughter got up first and stretched her young body."

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