Today I started and finished Kafka’s novella Metamorphosis. I found this story a simple one – to the point. I would say this story is open to a number of interpretations and this review is about my interpretation because as I read it I felt it was about something very specific for me.
Kafka has Gregor Samsa turn into a bug/creature after a night of terrible dreams and what ensues is Gregor’s experiences as he becomes accustomed to a body less mobile, flexible, and strong than before, as well as a separation from his family. He was the breadwinner of the family and overnight instead becomes dependent on them. This story is as much about what his family goes through as it is about his steady decline. Although Kafka has Gregor turn into a bug to make his point in this story, I personally felt all along that this was about a very capable, independent man who suffers a major physical setback whether that is paralysis by accident or reaching the final stages of a terminal illness.
It felt like a harsh but truthful look at how families deal with having to look after a family member who can no longer look after themselves. As much as we love our family members this can be a very draining if not gruelling experience. The fact that Gregor passes away undramatically in the early hours of the morning also speaks of terminal illness to me and particularly cancer kept coming to my mind. The way the family steadily gains independence for themselves and ultimately feels relief when he has passed on, as harsh as that may seem, also lends itself to my interpretation of terminal illness.
It was a simple and honest read. I found it terribly sad. I hoped all the way through that my interpretations would be wrong, that Gregor would transform back into himself and that the story would be about the rest of the family learning to be independent. But when I read the ending I realised that was true, but that it was also about the sadness, despair, and isolation a person may feel when they can no longer care for themselves, when they feel a burden to their loved ones, and possibly, facing death. Thanks to fellow blogger, Wordman, for this recommendation. I recommend anyone read this novella and see what it means to you.