Kafka notes (read your introduction) Franz Kafka is internationally known for The Metamorphosis. It was written during World War I, but really came to fame during the 20s and 30s, the time between WWI and WWI. Kafka suffered from cultural alienation growing up, and then as an adult, being Jewish, with a German father, during a time when the political culture was beginning to turn upon this population. Kafka is often aligned with the artistic movement known as Expressionism. Expressionism suggested that art should portray the way that life feels, not the way that life looks. Again, like Modernism, a turn towards the internal. A good example of Expressionism in painting is “The Scream” by Edward Munch. See “The Scream” here: http://www.thegmanifesto.com/uploaded_images/The-Scream-Edvard-Munch-700332.jpg What seems to have influenced the story? Industrialization seems to loom large, as Gregor is nothing more than part of a “machine,” a replaceable cog in an endless workforce. He never, ever misses a day of work, and the first time he is late, his boss comes to his house and makes accusations of wrongdoing. The very first time. It seems like Kafka’s own cultural alienation influenced the work. What does Gregor have? A job, yes. Friends? Real relationships with family? Any type of social life at all? It doesn’t seem like it. Let’s move on to the story. The Metamorphosis One of the things most notable about the story is the voice/tone of the story. Kafka writes in a very journalistic, matter-of-fact style, much like a reporter does. He steps back and describes what he sees with straightforward, subject/verb prose. Notice how flatly Gregor’s transformation is reported. He wakes up and realizes he’s a bug. No romance, no sudden emotional waves. It’s reported that Gregor wakes up and is a bug, it’s accepted, and the story moves on. Discussion question: Why do you think this journalistic/straightforward style serves a story like The Metamporphosis? Let’s look at Gregor: He’s a worker, and little else. Discussion questions: 1. How would you describe Gregor? What is there to admire? I think there is a lot to admire in what he is doing for his family. But, also, what is there to criticize about Gregor? Has he, in some way, gotten himself into this mess (and by mess I mean the almost slave-like aspect of his life) 2. Does his life seem “enviable”? 3. What does he give to his family? What is his relationship with them like? Let’s look at the family, because this is largely a story about a family drama. Discussion questions: 1. What are the mother and father like? Are they good parents to Gregor? Are they users? Are they happy? 2. What do we see in the sister? She’s young and promising, but seems like she might be on her way to being stuck? Is she the symbol of hope in the story? 3. Who takes charge in the house once it is discovered that Gregor has become a bug? How does Grete show compassion to her bug brother? I think the notion of change is a big deal in this story. Of course, it’s called The Metamorphosis, which means change. I asked above who takes charge in the house. We see Grete begin to take the lead. But let’s look at each character in relation to how they change after Gregor becomes incapable of going to work. 1. How does Grete change? Be specific. 2. How does the father change? Be specific. 3. How does the mother change? Be specific. 4. How does the family dynamic change? It seems to me the most notable change is that the family shifts from becoming users, to becoming doers (Part III). Notice that the father, who once appeared physically incapable, now has a job where he stands all day. Notice how decisions are made now within the family – they talk about things, discuss things, then decide. All the while, the one they depended on, who gave them everything he could give them, is locked up in a room and ignored and despised. So, where does it all really end for Gregor? Do you notice how quickly they become impatient with him? Not only the parents, who disgusted from the start, but there is an important conversation on page 2026, when they are discussing their financial situation, when Grete stops calling Gregor by name, and instead refers to him as “it.” A big, big moment. What do you think of the family at this point? We soon learn that not only are they capable of providing for themselves, but that the father, who has claimed to be broke all these years, has money stashed away. Wow. That one hurts. Gregor has basically slaved away his adult life to pay off his father’s debt, and his father has not only not bothered to get up and try and help, but he has also been sitting on money that could have paid off the debt. And, now, he violently attacks Gregor the Bug every time Gregor tries to come out of the room. Look at the final scene: First, notice the language here. The language in the final scene is much more lyrical and romantic than the rest of the story, which I think is interesting. Second, they have left the apartment, the sun shines, it is a beautiful day, Gregor has died so their burden is lifted, they will take a smaller, more affordable apartment, and the tension seems to have evaporated. Then, Grete stands and stretches and her mother and father watch her (and I think this is some of the most beautiful writing in this description) and it seems like she is becoming some wonderful, beautiful butterfly. Her parents think, “she had blossomed into a lovely and shapely girl.” And that it was, “high time she found a husband.” And now we have a couple of big questions: 1. How does Gregor’s life as a man parallel Gregor’s life as a bug? 2. What do you make of the ending? Is the circle starting all over again with the way the parents are looking at the daughter? Or is this a hopeful ending, a family that is finding its own way in the world? There are discussion questions in the document. I only need one of those questions answered with a word count of about 100. Thank you.