Monday, April 21, 2014

The Delicate Balance

Kafka was a genius in the fact that he could fills his stories full of depression, neglect and deep life questions. Yet he still managed to fill the same stories with an element of hope which cannot be explained. Hope for the characters and hope for the world. It’s a struggle reading his stories yet infinitely worthwhile since people return better people; better, compassionate human beings. Humans constantly act in their own defense and their own greed without think of the impact of other people. Yet on the other end of the spectrum there are some people who live so selflessly that they end up being taken for granted and die unloved and unwanted. Kafka is trying to teach people that it is necessary to be selfish enough to look out for themselves yet selfless enough to not be a vampire.

Throughout the whole story Gregor is extremely selfless. Even when he is turned into a bug he has not concern about his own condition or his own problems. His only concern is about his family. It really doesn’t matter to Gregor that his family are a bunch of egotistical jerks or perhaps Gregor is so blinded by his one sided love that he just doesn’t see the obvious. Even after Gregor has been turned into a bug and the Manager is yelling through the door about how incompetent Gregor is, Gregor defends his parents instead of himself. “Take it easy on my parents!” (Kafka 5). So the Manager is yelling at Gregor because he is incompetent and lazy yet instead of telling the Manager to go to hell, Gregor asks the Manager to not take his anger towards Gregor out on his parents. Gregor also cares a lot about his impact on other people and their feelings. This is more important when he is turned into a bug because most people find the sight of him intolerable including his beloved sister. Since Gregor knows that most people hate the sight of him he tries to spare them the sight sometimes going to extreme lengths like in this quote, “From this he realized that his appearance was still intolerable to her and must remain intolerable to her in future, and that she really had to exert a lot of self-control not to run away from a glimpse of only the small part of his body which stuck out from under the couch. In order to spare her even this sight, one day he dragged the sheet on his back and onto the couch—this task took him four hours—and arranged it in such a way that he was now completely concealed…” (Kafka 14). So Gregor spend four hours making sure that his sister wouldn’t even have to see a small part of his back because it might be distressing to her. Apparently Gregor doesn’t know or is too much of a saint to notice that his sister hates him and has only ever used him for her own gain. When his mother and sister try to move the furniture out of Gregor’s room, Gregor tries to save a picture and his mother sees him. His mother, being of insane delicacy, faints at the sight of him, so Gregor runs into the next room where he is injured. So even though he is injured and just had a door slammed in his face he is still thinking about his poor mother. Which can be seen in this quote, “Gregor was now shut off from his mother, who was perhaps near death, thanks to him.” (Kafka 17). His mother is not, in fact, anywhere near death but because Gregor care way more about other people’s wellbeing than his own, Gregor is very near death.

Even though Gregor is selfless and nice his family still sees him as a burden because he just exists. Even though human Gregor is the only reason why the family has such a nice house and has nice things they still see bug Gregor as the reason for all their troubles. It can been seen in this quote which is after Gregor has had the apple lodged in his back and has stopped eating, “a requirement of family duty to suppress one’s aversion and to endure—nothing else, just endure.” (Kafk basically this quote is saying that the family tries not to view Gregor as the enemy, as hard as that is but since he is family they do have to endure his presents which is a pain to them. Out of all of his family Grete, his sister, is the worst. She is a spoiled brat who has never had to work or care about anything a day in her life thanks to Gregor. So once Gregor is turned into a bug and can no longer provide the high lifestyle she is use to she turns bitter towards Gregor and even suggests to kill him. Which can be seen in this quote, ‘ “When people have to work as hard as we all do, they cannot also tolerate this endless torment at home. I just can’t go on any more.’ “ (Kafka 24). So even though killing Gregor will not change the fact that she will have to work for a living the sister wants revenge for what Gregor did to the family. Which is nothing but a giant bug makes a good scapegoat so the family uses him for that purpose. Also the endless torment she speaks of doesn’t exist because Gregor is too kind and considerate to do anything that would cause his beloved family distress. Even after all that Gregor did for them they still hate him and use him as a scapegoat. Even after he is dead the family feels no remorse for their actions only happiness that he is dead. Which can be seen in this quote, “‘Well,” said Mr. Samsa, “now we can give thanks to God.’” (Kafka 25). This is right after the cleaning lady shows the family that Gregor is in fact dead. So his son dies from wounds that Mr. Samsa inflicted on him and is now thanking god that he killed his son. That is really messed up. That is why Gregor’s family are jerks and don’t deserve Gregor’s selflessness.

Even though Gregor is an extremely selfless and kind character he dies alone and unloved. This is thanks to his family who uses Gregor as a scapegoat because they are all spoiled brats and cannot deal with problems like adults. As soon as Gregor is no longer of use to the family he is thrown under the bus and out with the garbage. WIth Metamorphosis Kafka is trying to teach people to be selfless enough to be a nice person and be happy. Yet to be selfish enough to look after themselves and to not get their life forces sucked away by the vampires. It’s a delicate balance to figure out how be caring of other people’s needs and wants yet still making sure personal needs are taken care of.