by Franz Kafka
The Metamorphosis Life, Consciousness, and Existence Quotes
How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Chapter.Paragraph). We used Stanley Corngold's translation.
But the very next [apple] that came flying after it literally forced its way into Gregor's back; Gregor tried to drag himself away, as if the startling, unbelievable pain might disappear with a change of place; but he felt nailed to the spot and stretched out his body in a complete confusion of all his senses. (2.28)
This passage is another instance where Gregor's physical experience affects his mental life. His physical pain here paralyzes his faculty for both thought and action.
"If he could understand us," his father repeated and by closing his eyes, absorbed the impossibility of the idea, "then maybe we could come to an agreement with him." (3.24)
While the story is ruthlessly ironic toward Gregor, it's equally ruthless in its treatment of the other characters. This passage beautifully stages Mr. Samsa's unwillingness to believe that Gregor can understand the others. There's no evidence to support Mr. Samsa's claim; he just assumes that it's impossible. The fact that this belief is irrational is emphasized by the fact that the story tells us he "absorbed" the idea – he didn't arrive at the conclusion through a process of logical thought.
He remained in this state of empty and peaceful reflection until the tower clock struck three in the morning. He still saw that outside the window everything was beginning to grow light. Then, without his consent, his head sank down to the floor, and from his nostrils streamed his last weak breath. (3.29)
Poor Gregor! Shouldn't the fact that he's a bug should make the death less pathetic? But this passage is still incredibly sad. As in earlier passages (see Quote #6), when Gregor loses consciousness, he also loses control over his body, as the phrase "without his consent" emphasizes. But the fact that his last moments are spent in "empty and peaceful reflection," instead of anxiety, anger, or frustration, makes his situation almost enviable. If being an animal has resulted in the deterioration of his capacity for reason in any way, it also took away his capacity to torment himself with his own thoughts.