Study Guide

The Metamorphosis Part 2

By Franz Kafka

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Part 2

  • It's dusk when Gregor wakes from a "deep, coma-like sleep" (1.1). He twitches his antennae, another feature of his body that he's getting to know. He moves toward the door. He notices that his left side aches and one of his little legs has been injured in the morning's escapade.
  • It's only then that he realizes what woke him up: the smell of food. His sister has put out some milk and bread, but what was once his favorite food now repulses him.
  • Gregor notices that it's awfully quiet. He doesn't hear his father read the newspapers aloud to his mother and sister as usual.
  • Gregor wonders what will happen to them all if he can't work anymore. To avoid thinking of these things, he scuttles constantly up and around the room.
  • Gregor notices that he no longer feels comfortable in his own room—the ceilings seem too high. He's much more comfortable squished under a couch, even though he barely fits. Here he sleeps lightly, woken up occasionally by his hunger pains and his own worried thoughts.
  • He decides his only option is to show his family how sorry he is for the trouble he's causing and be really, really nice to them.
  • Early the next morning, his sister opens the door. She looks in, sees Gregor, and, frightened, shuts the door.
  • She opens the door again, and notices that Gregor hasn't eaten the food laid out for him. She comes back and strews an assortment of food on the floor.
  • Gregor slurps happily on the rotten vegetables and moldy cheese, but leaves the fresh stuff. When he hears his sister turning the key in the lock outside, he scurries back under the couch and watches her clean up.
  • Gregor grows accustomed to being fed in this way every day. Over the next few weeks, the family gets into a routine. They never speak to Gregor, although Gregor hears his sister comment on his eating habits from time to time.
  • Gregor isn't sure what happened on the first day of his transformation, but he pieces things together from what he overhears his family saying outside his room. He's not sure how they sent away the locksmith and the doctor, but the maid had quit.
  • On the first day of his transformation, his father gave a lengthy explanation of their financial situation. Apparently they aren't so bad off. When his father's business collapsed, there was still a little money remaining, and it's been gathering interest. This news was a pleasant surprise to Gregor, who thought they had been completely ruined. He remembered the early days when he rose from the position of clerk to salesman, supporting his family with his earnings.
  • His father also explained that Gregor's earnings weren't all used up to support the family's living expenses, but had gone into the family's savings. Of course, this money could have gone into paying off the family's debt to Gregor's employer and Gregor could have quit sooner. But given his present circumstances, Gregor is glad his father had saved the money.
  • But the savings aren't enough to support the family beyond a year or two. The family needs to find employment, even though the father's obese, the mother's asthmatic, and the sister a little air-headed.
  • Gregor gets pretty depressed by his situation. He gets into the habit of propping up an armchair against the window so that he can perch on the sill and look outside. He notices that his eyesight is getting worse as he can hardly make out the hospital across the street.
  • His sister notices this habit, and begins propping up the armchair for him after she cleans his room. Gregor wishes he could thank his sister, but his sister seems so repulsed by his change that she can barely stand to look at him. Or smell him, as the first thing she does when she comes into his room is open his window and take some deep breaths of fresh air.
  • Even after a month of caring for Gregor, Gregor's sister isn't used to the sight of him.
  • Poor Gregor makes to a few pathetic attempts to get some love from his family.
  • For example: Gregor covers himself with a sheet so he doesn't gross out his sister. He peers out, hoping for some gesture from his sister acknowledging his move. (You know, something like, "Thanks, Gregor," or "Sorry you're a bug, Gregor, but I still love you," or maybe a gentle pat on his antennae?) But no, his sister just looks grateful that she doesn't have to deal with his horrific form. Tear.
  • For the first couple of weeks, his parents seem perfectly fine with staying clear of Gregor and letting his sister deal with him. But eventually his mother wants to visit him, and his father and his sister try to convince her that this would be a really terrible idea.
  • Well, his mother gets her wish soon enough.
  • Gregor spends the days crawling all around his room. He especially enjoys clinging to the ceiling, where he forgets himself to the point that sometimes he just falls to the floor. Since he leaves ooze everywhere he crawls, his sister notices his new trick and decides that the furniture needs to be moved out of the room so that Gregor has more space to roam. But she can't move all the furniture on her own, so she asks her mother to help.
  • Gregor is all for the furniture clearing, and moves under the couch, sheet considerately placed over his entire body.
  • As they begin to move the furniture out, her mother wonders whether they shouldn't leave the furniture behind. After all, wouldn't moving the furniture be the same as admitting that Gregor will always be a bug and never be a human being again? Shouldn't they leave the room as is so that when Gregor's back to his old self, he can return to his familiar room and forget the whole nightmare of being a vermin?
  • Something about hearing his mother's voice for the first time in a while really shakes Gregor up. He can't believe that he's become so accustomed to being a bug that he's willing to let go of all of his stuff, just so he can crawl around on the walls.
  • But his sister is adamant. (This is the first time we learn her name—it's Grete.) All the time she's spent caring for Gregor has made Grete feel that she's an expert on Gregor. She insists that he'd be happier with the furniture gone.
  • As Grete and his mother leave, Gregor sneaks out from under his sheet. He wonders how he can communicate to the women that yes, he wants to keep his stuff.
  • Unexpectedly, his mother walks in the room. Gregor hurriedly scuttles behind a couch.
  • The women continue to move the furniture. For some reason, their shuffling movements really start to drive him crazy.
  • He can't stand it anymore, so the next time they shuffle out of his room, he scuttles out from behind the couch. At first he has no idea where to go, but then he sees the picture of the woman in furs hanging up on his wall. He scurries over the picture frame and plants himself on the glass, which happens to feel nice and cool on his belly.
  • Grete walks in first, and her eyes meet Gregor's. She tries to shoo her mother out of the room to save her mother the shock of seeing Gregor, but it's no use. Her mother sees the "gigantic brown blotch" of Gregor's body on the wall, and falls limp on the couch (2.26).
  • Grete angrily shakes her fist at Gregor and shouts, "You, Gregor!" (2.27). These are the only words she has addressed to him since his transformation. So much for the family love-fest.
  • Grete dashes out into the next room to find something to revive her mother.
  • Gregor hovers uselessly behind his sister as she rummages through some bottles.
  • When Grete turns around, she sees Gregor and is startled. She drops a bottle, which spills some kind of medicine all around him. She grabs a bunch of bottles and returns to Gregor's room to tend to her mother. She slams the doors behind her.
  • Unable to do anything, Gregor frantically crawls around the room until he gets dizzy and falls flat on the table.
  • After a brief while, Gregor's father rings the doorbell. Grete runs to answer the door. When his father asks what happened, Grete tells him that Gregor's escaped and the mother has fainted.
  • Gregor can tell that his father is infuriated. In an effort to show that his intentions are good, Gregor flops up against his own doors, trying to signal that he really didn't mean to escape and would quite happily crawl back into his room.
  • When his father finally enters, Gregor is surprised at the change in his father's appearance. Before Gregor's transformation, his father had been physically debilitated after the collapse of the family business. He was barely able to walk or speak clearly. But now, his father stood erect before him, his glare made more intimidating by the uniform he is wearing. True, it's only the uniform of a bank messenger, but it's got shiny bright buttons and big boots that are pretty scary to a vermin.
  • His father charges Gregor, and Gregor scuttles away.
  • His father charges Gregor again, and Gregor scuttles away.
  • His father charges Gregor yet again, and Gregor scuttles away.
  • Well, you get the general idea. This isn't a high speed chase, but a painfully slow circuit around the room as Gregor shifts away from his father every time his father makes the slightest gesture toward him.
  • Gregor's father gets the brilliant idea to chuck apples at Gregor. Not having the strongest arm in the biz, Gregor's father can only weakly lob apples at Gregor, who keeps scuttling around the room. Finally an apple lodges into Gregor's back and pins Gregor to the floor.
  • Just as Gregor seems to lose his mind with the pain, his mother bursts out of the room. Her clothes, which were unbuttoned by Grete so that she might breathe better after her dizzy spell, fall to the floor as she cleaves to Gregor's father and begs him to spare Gregor's life.

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