I recently got in touch with one of my cousin’s in Sweden. Her name is Viktoria and she’s awesome! I honestly can’t believe we didn’t get in touch sooner because we both have a passion for reading. Since graduating from college I have been reading a lot of young adult fiction, because that is what my 8th graders like to read, and I like to be able to recommend books and get them interested. So when Viktoria said that one of her favorite authors is Franz Kafka, I jumped at the opportunity to challenge myself in a way that I haven’t since college. I am new to Kafka so I decided to tackle one of his most famous stories first: The Metamorphosis.
The basic plot of this story is that a young man named Gregor wakes up one day to find that he has miraculously turned into a bug. This shocking transformation puts Gregor’s family under great strain, because they heavily relied on Gregor to support them. There are a great many changes that take place in their household because of these strange turn of events.
The title applies to more that the obvious metamorphosis of Gregor into a giant insect. The title also applies to the rest of his family who, up until this event, have been lethargic and completely reliant on Gregor’s ability to make money. Now that Gregor is incapable of supporting the family, all members are forced to make changes and sacrifices. His father becomes more fit when he takes a job, his mother takes more responsibility in the house when they are forced to dismiss most of their staff, and his sister becomes a working woman to help support that family. By the end of the story, Gregor is completely isolated from humanity while his family seems to have rejoined society as functional, successful and independent members.
Apart from the thematic elements of the story, what makes it particularly interesting is the tone of the writing. The very first event is something that most people would find alarming and horrifying, but the narration takes a tone that is quite opposite. Kafka describes the events in the story in a tone that is very straightforward. The sober narration of extraordinary events helps set the mood as chaotic and absurd. I was drawn into the story form the very beginning and found the writing style to be as strong as the plot itself.
I am eternally grateful for this suggestion and can’t wait to read more from such a brilliant author!
Kafka, Franz, and Nahum N. Glatzer. “The Metamorphosis.” The Complete Stories. New York: Schocken, 1988. 89-139. Print.