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

Notes

The third and final section of the story deals with the last metamorphosis of both Gregor and his family. Gregor has slowly become more bug-like, living in isolation in the dark corners and tight spots he can find in his increasingly dirty and cluttered room. His family has finally become productive. His father, a man who once lay in bed wearily complaining and doing nothing, has now become a bank porter who provides for his family; his mother sews and sells underwear; and even his protected younger sister has taken a job. In the faster pace of their new life, they almost forget about Gregor. The food that was initially served twice a day by his sister with much kindness and consideration is now pushed into his room hurriedly, once a day. The food is also hastily taken away, without care as to whether any of it has been consumed. Additionally, Gregor's room has become a dumping place for the family, and old and extra furniture is pilled everywhere, giving him little room to roam. Gregor feels like he is totally forgotten. The only attention paid to him at all is that from the cleaning lady, who taunts him and addresses him as "old dung beetle."

Without Gregor to "use" for financial support, the Samsa family has come up with creative ways to earn money. Mr. Samsa and Grete have regular jobs, she as a clerk and he as a porter. Mrs. Samsa makes and sells under garments. Additionally, they take in three boarders to supplement the family income. Gregor resents these newcomers, who have taken the best places at the table and who do not appreciate Crete's talents. Mr. Samsa also resents them, as seen when he throws them out of the house after Gregor's death.

It is interesting to consider the feelings of the family as they develop throughout the story. In the first section, there is an equal concern about Gregor and the need for money; the family still hopes that Gregor may become human again and support them. To keep the insect away from them, they lock him into his room. Grete, however, kindly tiptoes into his room and feeds him twice daily; Gregor truly appreciates her small kindnesses. In the second section, Gregor becomes much less important, as the family is preoccupied with money, finding jobs and earning a living. They begin to have less time for Gregor and resent him more. At the end of the section, Mr. Samsa drives Gregor back into his room, pelting him with apples, which wound him. Gregor has not been pushed entirely away from the human circle. In the third and final section, with the arrival of the three lodgers, the whole family neglects Gregor completely. He has become a totally unwanted burden. When he dies, Mr. Samsa gives thanks to the Lord.


Thematically, Kafka uses the boarders to help Gregor express himself and the theme of the novel. Seeing the lodgers at the dining room table and listening to them eat their food, Gregor says, "I am hungry, but not for that kind of food." What he longs for is conversation and companionship. When Grete plays her violin, he can stand his isolation no longer. He comes out of his hiding and into the living room, almost without thinking, for he wants to be close to his sister. It is amazing that as a bug he has interests and longings, while as a human he was disinterested and unchallenged. Literature has always considered music, especially the sound of a violin, as a symbol for a spiritual quest. Gregor's emergence from his room in search of a different kind of "food" is a symbol of his spiritual enlightenment. The irony is that Gregor only begins to seek spiritual satisfaction after he has transformed into an insect, a creature devoid of material values and normally free of emotions and feelings.

This section also shows the complete change in the character of Grete. At first sympathetic to the plight of his brother, she now claims she could not possibly be related to him. Although she still brings him food, she only does so once a day and always in a hurry; she no longer cleans his room and does kind things for Gregor. When he shows himself to the boarders, Grete can no longer contain her frustration and disgust for Gregor. Her hatred for him comes as a deathblow to him, especially since it is juxtaposed next to the beauty of her violin music. It is important to realize that the first two times that Gregor, the insect, left his room, he was dealt a physical blow, which he could withstand. This third time, the blow is emotional and deadly. When Gregor finally re- enters his room and his sister locks the door saying 'At last,' Gregor knows he has no place in the family any longer. He thinks about how much he loves them and then dies.

Ironically, Gregor's death is reported by the cleaning lady, who later sweeps out his body with the trash. When she tells the family the news, they seem pleased that everything has come to an end, and they smile with soberness. Mr. Samsa offers a prayer of thanksgiving for their deliverance. Feeling happy and free, the Samsas plan a trip to the country. They fire the maid, write letters to their employers about their absence, and board the train, never reflecting on the death of their son. In fact, their spirits are quite high during the journey, as the warm sunshine falls on them. They discuss their future, dreaming about a new and better life.

The story ends with vagueness, and the reader is left to decide if Grete will flourish in a new lifestyle or become an insect like Gregor because of her isolated, unhappy existence. During the train trip, her parents indicate to her that she is attractive and eligible, suggesting that there are unimagined possibilities in her life; the reader, however, has little faith in the Samsas, who lock their son in his room, totally ignoring Gregor and even chunking apples at him. Since Grete lives with these people, it is hard to imagine how she will escape and find the possibilities. Perhaps Kafka gives one small ray of hope when he ends the book with a picture of Grete; she gets up from her seat on the train and stretches towards the unknown future.

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