Metamorphosis… is a book I have read several times. Each time I get the chills. For some reason the thought of one morning turning into a giant “dung beetle” and having my family not recognize me even though I am still a salient being completely freaks me out… for lack of better terminology.
Perhaps it is my complete adoration of my sister that makes me feel this way. The sections of the short story where Gregor’s sister, Grete, feed him leftovers even though he is a giant insect make my stomach churn. It is almost as if she knows her loving brother is in there somewhere and just can not quite get his thoughts to her. The thought of never being able to speak to my sister again makes me so anxious and unwell, especially if it is because I am a giant bug!
Also, imagining being a giant insect and having my father chase me around with a bag of rotten apples, only to have one stick to my disgusting bug back makes me feel queasy. How can Gregor possibly go on living this way? So close to his family… but also so far. Kafka tells the reader Gregor dies from hunger and an infection caused by the apple stuck in his back. I don’t think so. I think he is so secluded… so unloved… so bugged… that he can no longer live his miserable life.
I was curious what underlying meaning a “bug” could have to a German writer so read some articles about the original German version of Metamorphosis online. The word used by Kafka in his short story does not actually translate to “bug” or “insect.” Ungeziefer, Kafka’s term, actually translates simply something “unclean animal not suitable for sacrifice.” Although this translation takes away the metaphorical meaning I was looking for (and was expecting to find), it gives the story an even more emotional feeling. Gregor was not necessarily changed, physically, into something so awful his family could no longer love him… perhaps his “physical” change was created to portray an evil act he committed…