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The Metamorphosis - Franz Kafka, Ian Johnston I never read this book in school, although I would have liked to. (Yeah, I'm weird like that.) I knew what the metamorphosis in the title referred to, the main character changing into a bug, but... I was surprised because I kinda felt that that was the least important facet of the book. I mean, one thinks that, should they wake up in the morning as a giant insect, that would be a fucking story worthy of telling, right? Far better than "What I Did On My Summer Vacation", anyway. Thar will likely be spoilerish stuff below.

But to me, the real story here was the one his family told of how they basically forced poor Gregor into indentured servitude, and then when he was no longer useful to them, imprisoned him. I kept waiting for the un-metamorphosis, for Gregor to gain his life and freedom back, and to take advantage of it and get the hell away from his family of ungrateful dicks. Run far, far away!

I kept thinking of this story more in allegorical terms than literal ones, and so I kept being surprised at the fact that Gregor really was an insect. Literally. I'm not sure why I just couldn't wrap my mind around this and accept it, but it just kept slipping away. Perhaps it was because there was no explanation for the change, no reason or lesson to be learned from it, at least not for Gregor. In my mind, Gregor's only mistake was being too duty-bound to his lazy, selfish family. He works in a job he hates, that treats him like shit, so that the family can pay back a debt... only to find out later that they've been squirreling money away and living rather larger than necessary. He has grandiose plans of sending his beloved sister to school for her musical passion, and supporting his parents in their retirement, but insectitude throws a wrench in those plans. So I'm not sure why Gregor should be the one punished... He did what he was expected to do, and his reward is being turned into a freakishly huge beetle, locked in a room and neglected, attacked and insulted and feared, and then dying alone and starving.

If his family was grief-stricken afterward, I might have thought that there was something to be gained here... He suffered so that they might learn humility and patience and acceptance and generosity... But nope. Instead it went something like this:

Sister: This bug's got to go! There was an Eligible Bachelor renting one of the rooms we had because Gregor worked so hard to pay for them, and now that he's not working hard because he was mysteriously turned into a bug, we're struggling to make ends meet. Then that fucking bug had to show his hideous bug face and run off the Eligible Bachelor renter. *stomps foot* DADDY MAKE IT LEEEEEEEEEAVE! Thenbuymeaporsche. And a pony.

Daddykins: Yes, dear. Bug, GTFO.

Gregor: :(

Daddykins: Someone get the Raid.

Gregor: *gots nothing left to live for and is starving... dies*

[Next morning]
Maid: Yo, there's a dessicated 6 foot bug carcass over there. Don't worry, I'll take care of it. Hungry?

Sister: Finally, I'm free! Ugh, look how skinny it was. Starvation fad diet, FTW! Anyway, Daddy, I wanna go on vacation!

Daddykins: We need to find you a husband to take care of us anyway, now that Gregor so selfishly ran off our potential husband/tenants, then starved to death and died.

Maid: You guys are dicks. I'm out.

So, note to self... if I ever wake up and find myself inhabiting a huge bug body, I'm totally killing the family in their sleep before they can imprison and slowly kill me through neglect.

Fair warning.