by Franz Kafka
The Metamorphosis Society and Class Quotes
How we cite our quotes: Citations follow this format: (Chapter.Paragraph). We used Stanley Corngold's translation.
The boss would […] cut off all excuses by quoting the health-insurance doctor, for whom the world consisted of people who were completely healthy but afraid to work. (1.6)
Gregor feels that he's part of a society that is geared toward work, work, and more work. It's not only his boss who sees him as a mere "tool" (see Quote #3 above). The medical profession is also implicated in that its sole purpose is to prepare human beings for work, rather than cure them.
Why was only Gregor condemned to work for a firm where at the slightest omission they immediately suspected the worst? Were all employees louts without exception […]? (1.15)
Another dehumanizing aspect of work for Gregor is that it reduces individuals to "louts." Of course, the irony here is that the office manager notes that Gregor is suspected of stealing cash payments from the company.
"A man might find for a moment that he was unable to work, but that's exactly the right time to remember his past accomplishments and to consider that later on, when the obstacle has been removed, he's bound to work all the harder and more efficiently […] the traveling salesman, who is out of the office practically the whole year round, can so easily become the victim of gossip, contingencies, and unfounded accusations, against which he's completely unable to defend himself." (1.27)
In his eagerness to defend himself to the office manager, who's waiting outside his bedroom door unaware of what's happened, Gregor rattles off a great little speech about hard work. The speech is quite ironic because 1) it's hard to imagine what lessons can be learned from overcoming vermin-hood, and 2) the rumors about Gregor's delinquency really can't compare to the fantastic reality of what's happened to him.