Alienation of Gregor Samsa is being portrayed by Kafka in the “Metamorphosis” by contrasting events with his family, work and society. Many of these events are faced by individuals or families in today’s society. Anne Rounds from the Chicago Scholarly review mentions that once Gregor becomes a bug, the whole “social structure disintegrates around him” (8). This can be seen from the family perceptive. Within the family, the alienation of Gregor happened once he started taking over as the head of the family by being the “travelling salesman” (Kafka ch. 2). The fact that he was never home to kindle the family relationships that he used to have with his family made him the odd one out whenever he was home from business. This is most evident in the passage when he “congratulated himself on […] locking all doors during the night, even at home” (ch. 1 6). The relationship with his father is discussed by Frances Colleen who writes that Gregor’s father did not believe Gregor could succeed in the business he was working in (ch. 3 2).
This can be explained in the passage where the father is having a conversation with the mother and had to explain why or what he had done when Gregor had given him money from his paycheck. Why one takes money and puts it away can only be interpreted in the way of putting money away for a rainy day. In this case, the “rainy day” is Gregor turning into a bug and losing his job. The alienation of Gregor and his father is further seen when his father first sees him as a bug for the first time.
He drives Gregor back into his room and instead of showing sympathy and love for his son he shows only impatience and anger for the way he showed himself to the manager. The relationship with his sister is also showing signs of alienation, even though she is the only member to show some love and understanding towards Gregor’s position. “I will not utter my brother’s name in front of this monster, and thus I say only that we must try to get rid of it. We have tried what is humanly possible to take care of it and to be patient” (ch. 16). By calling her brother a “monster”, she does not see him as her brother. She further alienates him when she mentions to her parents that he will be the cause of them dying if he is not taken care of. The alienation of Gregor did not stop at his family but it was also found at Gregor’s work environment, we see he is alienated from his peers as he, for one, does not work in an office environment, and due to the nature of being a “travelling salesman” can never make any friends or have a lasting relationship. The lienation in the work place can be further seen when Gregor trying to find an excuse for getting out of bed says that “the boss’s minion, without backbone and intelligence” would report him in a heartbeat if he was not on the train (ch. 1 5). By identifying one as a “minion” show’s no empathy towards a co-worker in that position of work. The change in his father is also noticeable as he has accepted that his work has alienated himself from his personal life since he never changes out of his work clothes when going to bed.
When the Samsa family realized that Gregor was not able to work anymore, they would not easily let go of the life had grown accustomed to. They had become the middle class and had a status that they wanted to keep within the community they had lived in and did not want to be the gossip of the neighborhood. The alienating of people in the story can be further seen when the old lady who cleans his room is more understanding of Gregor’s position than his family. She has a connection with Gregor like her sister had when she was cleaning his room. From the short passage that described her.
She had already seen all the bad things the world had to offer and probably had seen others in the same situation that Gregor was in. In this electronic age, being a “travelling salesman” is life. One is in contact with work and colleagues every day of week. One is also seen going on holiday with their mobile phone, which allows one to be in contact via email. Laptops allow you to be able to dial into the office. There are individuals and families needing to go outside of their city or state to find work. In many cases one will find the bread winner leaving families and commuting once every so often to come home to be with the family.
Many companies have their employees enclosed in the own little cubicles, cutting them off to any social contact with the co-workers. There are no personal relationships with their co-workers at all. Today we find many of our senior citizens are still out there working as the economy has not allowed them to retire and we find them working in Disney as they seem to have the temperament to be sociable to all age groups. Kafka is able to portray with the society he was brought up in and with today’s society it shows that no matter what age and century we all live in we will encounter the same problems in one way or another.