The obvious challenge of Kafka’s The Metamorphosis is the fact that it is simply a very weird story. As teachers, we’re unlikely to have a clear meaning in mind that we can tease out and help our students discover. The story simply frustrates attempts to read Gregor’s transformation as something other than it is: a wildly impossible event happening in an otherwise very normal fictional world.
The story doesn’t lend itself to allegorical readings; Gregor isn’t dreaming, so Freudian ones seem inadequate too. A Marxist reading might seem to be on more solid ground, since Gregor’s job seems like it’s pretty awful, if not dehumanizing. While the story certainly engages with themes of work and economic concerns throughout, this route also has its limits: the Samsas seem neither bourgeoisie nor proletariat; they’re middle class, if precariously so.