The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka
From this story, I inferred that suffering is a necessary component of a healthy mind. Every member of the Samsa family experiences this suffering and their spirit and will are awakened by it. They all undergo a painful metamorphosis, Gregor’s being the most dramatic. The complacent relationship between Gregor and his family is shattered one morning and their roles are basically reversed.
To feel an obligation to an unpleasant task and to have others depend on you is to have a sense of purpose. It is a basic human need that makes one feel venerable and deserving. The most glaring evidence for this theory is the tradition of serving one’s country in the military, which Gregor has done. Self-sacrifice and hard work are what enable us to look people in the eye.
It is this need which was Gregor’s motivation for trudging on through a job which he despises. He is like a bottom-feeder for other people’s love and respect. He maintains a spark of real intimacy for his sister, which later surfaces when he hears her playing the violin to the guests. At that moment he realizes what he has been starving for as he plays out in his mind the fantasy of keeping her in his room, having her play to him, kissing her, and telling her his plans of sending her to a music school. This gaining of Grete’s love and appreciation is the reward Gregor feels he has earned through his suffering. When he hears his family’s decision that he is in no way a human being and must be gotten rid of, he realises that his hope will never be realised. He dies alone shortly after this, as if he is giving up.
It is this way of life which each member of Gregor’s family fights to attain. His father, after becoming basically an invalid through five years of inactivity, quickly becomes strong and capable through his new job. He clings to this new responsibility, wearing his uniform constantly. He even sleeps in it “in extreme discomfort, and yet quite peacefully.” Gregor’s mother did most of the house work and “great piles of sewing.” Grete became the one to take care of Gregor.
Even though she soon started to despise this job, it was still very important to her. She becomes very upset at her mother for trying to clean Gregor’s room, taking that responsibility away from Grete.
Meanwhile Gregor desperately tries to maintain his own human dignity while keeping a hope of getting better. This need for dignity is what causes his desperate anger when his mother and sister remove the furniture from his room. He also feels rage when his family has the heated argument about him and no one shuts his door to spare Gregor from having to hear it. The only time Gregor actually tries to attack anyone is when the charwoman calls him to her and insults him. All of these things are denials of Gregor’s humanity, which he seems to have more of after becoming an insect. From this sad and frustrating story, I gathered that a certain amount of hard times are needed in a person’s life in order to give him or her a sense of purpose, or at least to make that person apreciate the good times.