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's legs began whirring now that he was going to eat […] "Have I become less sensitive?" he thought, already sucking greedily at the cheese. (2.7)
Gregor's new body responds in strange new ways to his needs. (Imagine how awkward it would be if your legs spun around every time you got hungry.) Before you dismiss Gregor's habits as another indication of his disgusting vermin-hood, take a look at the way the boarders eat in 3.10-11.
He especially liked hanging from the ceiling; it was completely different from lying on the floor; one could breathe more freely; a faint swinging sensation went through the body; and in the almost happy absent-mindedness which Gregor felt up there, it could happen to his own surprise that he let go and plopped onto the floor. (2.20)
There are moments in the story when Gregor actually enjoys some of the things his new body can do. The ability to defy gravity and hang upside down from the ceiling – that's kind of nifty, isn't it? The down side of his new powers is that he literally loses his mind.
Now he really had no more time to examine the good intentions of the two women, whose existence, besides, he had almost forgotten, for they were so exhausted that they were working in silence, and one could hear only the heavy shuffling of their feet. (2.24)
It's interesting that the women here act like Gregor – see in particular the scene where he's moving refuse around his own room in 3.9. Like Gregor, they no longer talk; exhausted, they don't even walk normally, but "shuffle" their feet in the same way that Gregor shuffles around. It seems that their work has literally taken the life out of them – even reduced them to a bare, animal existence to the point where they become forgettable to Gregor. Similarly, Gregor's needs become more and more forgettable to them as time goes on.