I recently read the book, The Metamorphosis, by Franz Kafka. The read was both enjoyable and difficult to comprehend at times, but what I found most important were the themes in the story that can be paralleled to real life, despite the story’s sci-fi genre.
The story is centered around a boy named Gregor, who turns into an insect, and focuses on the reactions of his family members. Previous to Gregor’s new appearance, he worked day and night as a salesman to raise money for the family, under the belief that they were in low waters financially.
After going from a boy to an insect, however, Gregor’s parents and sister treat him as if he is a disease. They are not only frightened of him, but see him as a disturbance rather than trying to comfort him and bring him back to his normal state. This exploitative relationship indicates how Gregor is used as a “puppet on strings” for his family, as they seek him whenever they find it suitable, and ignore him when he is of no value to them.
Throughout the story, Gregor and his family are faced with obstacles due to Gregor being an insect. A new relationship begins to develop between Gregor and his family, and this relationship ultimately leads to the outcome of the story. Besides a consequential plot which encompasses numerous themes, the language and style that Kafka uses is extremely significant.
There are tons of types of figurative language in the book, including allegory, alliteration, personification, similes, extended metaphors, symbolism, and juxtaposition. The context and word choice is challenging but understandable and the overall mood I felt was mysterious, offbeat, and zany.
As I read the story, many of my predictions as to how the characters would behave and how the plot would progress were wrong. That being said, all the events in the story happen for a reason and build upon each other.
The book was not definitely not the best I’ve read, although I don’t regret reading it. If you’re looking for a challenging novella with overlapping themes, ideas, and hidden messages in an outlandish society, you’ve found the ideal book. A copy of the story can be found in the school library.