"Metamorphosis," Vocabulary from Part 1

April 25, 2013
Franz Kafka's "Metamorphosis" is brilliantly daring storytelling. The main character may indeed be a "monstrous vermin" right from the start, but as the story progresses and his struggle is described in detail, it is difficult not to take pity on him (etext found here).

Learn these word lists: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3
One morning, as Gregor Samsa was waking up from anxious dreams, he discovered that in bed he had been changed into a monstrous verminous bug.
The dreary weather (the rain drops were falling audibly down on the metal window ledge) made him quite melancholy.
He was the boss's minion, without backbone or intelligence.
But that would be extremely embarrassing and suspicious, because during his five years' service Gregor hadn't been sick even once.
The boss would certainly come with the doctor from the health insurance company and would reproach his parents for their lazy son and cut short all objections with the insurance doctor's comments; for him everyone was completely healthy but really lazy about work.
As he was thinking all this over in the greatest haste, without being able to make the decision to get out of bed (the alarm clock was indicating exactly quarter to seven) there was a cautious knock on the door by the head of the bed.
It was clearly and unmistakably his earlier voice, but in it was intermingled, as if from below, an irrepressibly painful squeaking which left the words positively distinct only in the first moment and distorted them in the reverberation, so that one didn't know if one had heard correctly.
He made an effort with the most careful articulation and by inserting long pauses between the individual words to remove everything remarkable from his voice.
Gregor had no intention of opening the door, but congratulated himself on his precaution, acquired from traveling, of locking all doors during the night, even at home.
Instead of these, however, he had only many small limbs which were incessantly moving with very different motions and which, in addition, he was unable to control.
They would have only had to push their arms under his arched back to get him out of the bed, to bend down with their load, and then merely to exercise patience and care that he completed the flip onto the floor, where his diminutive legs would then, he hoped, acquire a purpose.
He had already got to the point where, with a stronger rocking, he maintained his equilibrium with difficulty, and very soon he would finally have to decide, for in five minutes it would be a quarter past seven.
The fall was absorbed somewhat by the carpet and, in addition, his back was more elastic than Gregor had thought.
Actually just yesterday evening I had a small premonition.
Anna!' yelled the father through the hall into the kitchen, clapping his hands, " fetch a locksmith right away!"
In order to get as clear a voice as possible for the critical conversation which was imminent, he coughed a little, and certainly took the trouble to do this in a really subdued way, since it was possible that even this noise sounded like something different from a human cough.
Gregor pushed himself slowly towards the door, with the help of the easy chair, let go of it there, threw himself against the door, held himself upright against it (the balls of his tiny limbs had a little sticky stuff on them), and rested there momentarily from his exertion.
But to make up for that his jaws were naturally very strong; with their help he managed to get the key really moving, and he did not notice that he was obviously inflicting some damage on himself, for a brown fluid came out of his mouth, flowed over the key, and dripped onto the floor.
Imagining that all his efforts were being followed with suspense, he bit down frantically on the key with all the force he could muster.
His mother (in spite of the presence of the manager she was standing here with her hair sticking up on end, still a mess from the night) with her hands clasped was looking at his father; she then went two steps towards Gregor and collapsed right in the middle of her skirts spreading out all around her, her face sunk on her breast, completely concealed.
"Now," said Gregor, well aware that he was the only one who had kept his composure.
Gregor realized that he must not under any circumstances allow the manager to go away in this frame of mind, especially if his position in the firm was not to be placed in the greatest danger.
Right away he believed that the final amelioration of all his suffering was immediately at hand.
But at the very moment when he lay on the floor rocking in a restrained manner quite close and directly across from his mother ( apparently totally sunk into herself) she suddenly sprang right up with her arms spread far apart and her fingers extended and cried out, "Help, for God's sake, help!"
Now, unfortunately this flight of the manager also seemed completely to bewilder his father, who earlier had been relatively calm, for instead of running after the manager himself or at least not hindering Gregor from his pursuit, with his right hand he grabbed hold of the manager's cane, which he had left behind with his hat and overcoat on a chair.
Perhaps his father noticed his good intentions, for he did not disrupt Gregor in this motion, but with the tip of the cane from a distance he even directed here and there Gregor's rotating movement.
Naturally his father, in his present mental state, had no idea of opening the other wing of the door a bit to create a suitable passage for Gregor to get through.
He would never have allowed the elaborate preparations that Gregor required to orient himself and thus perhaps get through the door.
On the contrary, as if there were no obstacle and with a peculiar noise, he now drove Gregor forwards.
Then his father gave him one really strong liberating push from behind, and he scurried, bleeding severely, far into the interior of his room.

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Tuesday August 19th 2014, 2:57 AM
Comment by: Chayote T. (HI)
It's a great book!

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