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Family Relationships in the Metamorphosis

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Family Relationships in The Metamorphosis

Not every family lives the American dream of a big house, a nice neighborhood, and a white picket fence. They may see perfect from afar, but in actuality, they are far from perfect. Peering in from the outside, a household may seem as if it has a very loving atmosphere with no qualms and never any arguments, however, every family has their differences. Most participants in a family yearn to grow with each other, hopefully to bond, learn from one another, and respect and grow closer to each other. However, as much as one would adore living the "American dream," and practicing these amorous, loving characteristics of a perfect family, people do change. Some may drift away from their families for a short period, or some for the remainder of their lives, as did Gregor and the Samsa family in, "The Metamorphosis," by Franz Kafka. The relationships in this piece of literature depict the whole family, Gregor, his sister Grete, and his mother and father, metamorphosing, just as the title portrays.

The Samsa family seemed like a tight-knit group. Gregor was the breadwinner of the family who maintained a close relationship with his sister, Grete. Being the only member of the family who holds a job, Gregor feels misunderstood at his office, and he works only to absolve his father's outstanding debt and keep the family solvent. He was continuously looking out for his family. He never complained about rising early to catch the train for work because he longed for his sister to attend school at the Conservatory and saved a few dollars every week for her tuition. Even after his complete physical metamorphosis into a vermin, he was still a rational thinker and remained positive. No matter what physical state he was in, it seemed as if his sister was still going to be there for him, "to find out his likes and dislikes, brining him a wide assortment of things on an old newspaper" (17). However, only a month later, Grete stopped cleaning his room and feeding him his new favorite foods. Slowly and without reluctance, his relationship with her grew distant. She continuously referred to him as "it," belittling him and pondering ways to rid him of the house before he is the death of their parents. Not only did Grete no longer want to feed or clean her brother, she felt he was going to ruin the family, and was completely disgusted by his appearance. Grete, who Gregor once adored so much, was ultimately the leader of his exoneration, which led to his death.

The start of the novel revealed a basic nurturing, loving mother-son relationship, however, over the course of the three parts, Gregor's mother, as was Grete, went through a shocking transformation. During the early scenes when Gregor cannot open his door, she defends him, explaining to the manager there must be something seriously wrong. She is worried about his well-being, knowing Gregor is not one ever to miss work. Concerned about her ill son, she demands the door to be opened so she can tend to him, but at the first appalling sight of Gregor's metamorphosed body, she "took two steps toward Gregor, and sank down in the midst of her skirts spreading out around her, her face completely hidden on her breast" (12). From this point on, her hostility for her son only increased as she repeatedly jumped backwards in shame and in fright of her son's new appearance. She was distressed and almost seemed angry at the idea of now having to look for a job, since Gregor was no longer able to provide for the family. Just when Gregor found himself thrilled that his mother was coming to visit his barricaded room after two weeks, she entered the dusty cramped space just to clear the room of any furniture, only to let down and disappoint Gregor once more. Still trying to be the head of the household and take matters into his own hands of his fainting mother, he only becomes tormented by self-reproaches and worry, even through all her mistreatment.

Upon seeing his son's transformation,

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