Kafka

And Reality Of Change

The Reality of Change What is reality? Every person has his or her own"reality" or truth of their existence. For some it may be a dead-end job due
to their lack of education while to others it may be the carefree life of a
successful person. The true reality of any situation is that whatever direction
is chosen in life a person brings the same inner self, motivational levels and
attitudes. Unless they are willing to change the way they perceive and react to
a situation they are forever trading one set of problems for another. As readers
of literature we too seek to escape our "reality" and experience life
through an authorís imagination while gaining valuable knowledge about
ourselves. In Franz Kafkaís Metamorphosis, the nature of Gregor Samsaís
reality changes insignificantly in spite of his drastic physical changes.

Gregorís life before the metamorphosis was limited to working and caring for
his family. As a travelling salesman, Gregor worked long, hard hours that left
little time to experience "life." He reflects on his so-called life
acknowledging the "plague of traveling: the anxieties of changing trains, the
irregular, inferior meals, the ever changing faces, never to be seen again,
people with whom one has no chance to be friendly" (Kafka 13). Gregor, working
to pay off his familyís debt, has resigned himself to a life full of no
pleasures only work. Kafka himself paralleled this sentiment in a quote taken
from his diaries noting that no matter how hard you work "that work still
doesnít entitle you to loving concern for people. Instead, youíre alone, a
total stranger, a mere object of curiosity" (Pawel 167). Gregor submerges
himself in work and becomes a stranger to himself and to life. Any type of
social contact beyond porters, waitresses or bartenders was non-existent. He had
once met a "cashier in a hat shop, whom he had pursued earnestly but too
slowly" (Kafka 76). There was no room in Gregorís life for people other that
his family and as a result was condemned to a life without love or caring not to
mention basic companionship. He worked diligently to provide for his family and
that remained his only goal in life. Gregorís family relied on him to be the"breadwinner" of the family, but gave him nothing in return. The life that
he had led until now was one fully of obligations and loneliness; he came home
to empty hotel rooms or his apathetic family. His parents and "their dominance
thus extends to the system which deprives him of creative life and married
love" (Eggenschwiler 54). So concerned with ensuring his parents and sister
were taken care of, he forgot his own needs. It was apparent to everyone that he
was no longer thought of as a son or an extension of the family, but merely as a"support system." The tragic fact is that "everyone had grown accustomed
to it, his family as much as himself; they took the money gratefully, he gave it
willingly but the act was accompanied by no remarkable effusiveness" (Kafka

48). It appears that in the course of his hectic work schedule, he overlooks
that in return for dedication to his family, he remains unloved and
unappreciated. Yet Gregor still "believed he had to provide his family with a
pleasant, contented, secure life" (Emrich 149), regardless of how they treated
him. Gregorís existence before the metamorphosis was much like after it;
limited to work and family, he went unnoticed by both. After changing into a
cockroach one night, Gregor is forced to live a life of isolation with a family
who is appalled by him. He is placed in a "dark bedroom, in the jumble of
discarded furniture and filth" a " monstrous vermin, a grotesque, hidden
part of the family" (Eggenschwiler 211). Shock and terror, resulting in Gregor
being locked away, marked his familyís reaction to his metamorphosis. His
sister is the only one that, while frightened, would tend to Gregorís room and
meals. She even took the responsibility so far as to get angry with anyone who
wanted to help. Gregor was not allowed any contact or association with the
family and "no one attempted to understand him, no one, not even his sister,
imagined that he could understand them" (Kafka 45). So Gregor was left to
occupy his time, alone, and contemplate the situation he had been thrust into.

He was coming to realize that through his metamorphosis he had not lost
anything. He had simply moved from one form to another while his environment
remained constant.