Study Guide

The Metamorphosis Family

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Kafka's The Metamorphosis toys with the traditional family structure where the father is at the head of the household and the son is a bug. Oh. Wait.

The story begins with Gregor, the son, as the sole provider and the father as a weak, physically debilitated dependent, on par with the mother and daughter. But Big Daddy Samsa returns to his position as the patriarch of the family as he asserts his power more and more aggressively. But the novella questions the traditional family structure by showing the Samsas turning their backs on their duty to Gregor as a member of their family. How "natural" is the family bond if the family bond is so easy to ignore when things get tough?

Questions About Family

  1. What are some ways that the Samsas fulfill traditional roles—mother, father, son, daughter? What are some ways that the Samsas do not fit the "normal" family stereotypes?
  2. What do you think is the story's attitude toward traditional family structures?
  3. Who is the head of the Samsa family before Gregor's transformation? After Gregor's transformation, who seems to have the most control over the situation? At what points in the story do you see the power dynamic shift from one character to another?
  4. Do you think Gregor is a member of the family even though he's a bug? Why or why not?
  5. Do you think Gregor's family is responsible for his death?

Chew on This

With Gregor's transformation into a bug, the rest of the Samsas return to their traditional family roles.

Kafka's The Metamorphosis satirizes traditional family structures by showing how easily the Samsas dispose of their responsibility to Gregor, who, despite his transformation, remains a member of the family.

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