by Franz Kafka
The Metamorphosis Man and the Natural World Quotes
How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Chapter.Paragraph). We used Stanley Corngold's translation.
Gregor was shocked to hear his own voice answering, unmistakably his own voice, true, but in which, as if from below, an insistent, distressed chirping intruded, which left the clarity of his words intact only for a moment really, before so badly garbling them as they carried that no one could be sure if he had heard right. (1.7)
Yet another instance where Gregor feels himself split between his bug side and his human side. We normally take our voices for granted as an expression of ourselves, but Gregor doesn't have this luxury. With his voice reduced to a "distressed chirping," Gregor loses a significant means of communicating to, and connecting with, other human beings.
[H]e cleared his throat a little – taking pains, of course, to do so in a very muffled manner, since this noise, too, might sound different from human coughing, a thing he no longer trusted himself to decide. (1.23)
At this point in the story, Gregor starts to lose his self-consciousness about his human-animal split. In Quote #2, you'll recall, he was so disgusted with his bug body that he couldn't bear to touch himself. By this passage, he's not sure if he can distinguish between bug noises and human coughing anymore.
[T]he pads on the bottom of his little legs exuded a little sticky substance […] his jaws, of course, were very strong; with their help he actually got the key moving and paid no attention to the fact that he was undoubtedly hurting himself in some way, for a brown liquid came out of his mouth, flowed over the key, and dripped onto the floor. (1.24)
Gregor's imperviousness to pain brings up an interesting question about his consciousness. Is he impervious to pain because there's a disconnect between his bug body and his human brain which prevents his human brain from processing bug sensory data? Or is he unaware of the pain because animals don't have consciousnesses – they feel pain without thinking, "Hey, I feel pain" – and thus he's losing his human consciousness?