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Jacob Schulman
AP English
March 16, 2009
Ms. Bishop
The Metamorphosis: Section 1 Passage Analysis
Pages 7-8: “But when, once again, after the same exertion, he lay in his original
position, sighing, and again watched his little legs struggling, if possible more
fiercely, with each other and saw no way of bringing peace and order into this
mindless motion, he again told himself that it was impossible for him to stay in bed
and that the most rational thing was to make any sacrifice for even the smallest
hope of freeing himself from the bed. But at the same time he did not forget to
remind himself occasionally that thinking things over calmly—indeed, as calmly as
possible—was much better than jumping to desperate decisions…And for a little
while he lay quietly, breathing shallowly, as if expecting, perhaps, from the complete
silence the return of things to the way they really and naturally were.”
This passage above focuses on Gregor’s first major hurdle as a transformed
man. Getting out of bed is not an easy task, and the passage above deals with his
thought processes. He is clearly dedicated to being punctual, and he is willing to
“make any sacrifice” to get out of bed. However, it stands as a metaphor for getting
up and taking action on a daily basis. He decides to make his decisions wisely, and
not let impulse take over his predicament. Later on in the passage, Kafka mentions
that Gregor feels that it’s going to be the “return of things to the way they really and
naturally were.” This relates to the philosophy of existentialism, and that everything
has a higher meaning. This sets the stage for the entire piece on page 8, and shows
that Gregor’s entire existence as this bug (or beetle-like creature) will stand for
something else throughout the rest of the text.
Kafka uses a flowing diction throughout this particular section. He takes a
softspoken tone, as if to convey to the reader that despite his predicament, Gregor is
completely calm. However, I think it serves as a stark contrast to Gregor’s initial
realization that he has awoken as as bug. Kafka seems to vocalize exactly what’s
going through Gregor’s head, and it’s an interesting point of view as we get to see
how he’s processing what’s going on. There don’t seem to be any literary devices in
this particular passage, but there is a lot or imagery throughout chapter one.
The rest of chapter one shows a lot about Gregor’s desire to succeed at work,
and even features a visit from his boss. The reactions he receives will certainly
shape his way of thinking come chapters 2 and 3. I also anticipate Kafka’s tone and
mood will change as well, as he will try and question more things in society and be
less inclined to accept things at face value.