Lillie 1 Nathan Lillie Mark Ari Lit 2000 4/9/10 Kafka and his Father In Franz Kafka’s novel The Metamorphosis, The relationship between Gregor and his father was a clash of personalities that isn’t clearly explained. As readers take a closer look at Kafka’s letter to his father it reveals that there is more to this story than meets the eye. The Metamorphosis does not say much about the relationship that Gregor and his father had before Gregor transformed into a giant bug, but it does show what that relationship was reduced to.
Kafka’s letter to his father gives insight into Kafka’s life and experiences that shows how all of it started. The transformation Gregor went through is a metaphor for the relationship that Kafka had with his father. Gregor was a businessman who was working to pay his father’s debt off and to support his family. While the text does not specifically say something happened between Gregor and his father, and it become obvious that this event made Gregor feel that he had been reduced to a bug in his own eyes and in the eyes of his father.
This is where the parallels can be seen between Gregor’s father and Franz Kafka’s. ” You asked me recently why I maintain that I am afraid of you. As usual, I was unable to think of any answer to your question, partly for the very reason that I am afraid of you… “(Kafka 1) Franz Kafka was an only son and the only one Lillie 2 to take the brunt of the demands of his father. While Kafka even says that he would have no problem with his father “… as a friend, as a boss an uncle, a grandfather, even(though rather more hesitantly) as a father-in-law. Only as a father have you been too strong for me… (Kafka 1) he became distant and his father saw this as weakness and treated him as he saw him, a bug. Kafka being a quiet and timid person did not openly speak against the authority of his father and remained quiet throughout his life. This is similar to the time Gregor spent as a bug, not able to communicate his thoughts and live in fear of his father. If Gregor’s father had any idea that the bug could possibly be Gregor he did not show it, even going so far as to even throw an apple at him that became embedded in Gregor, which may have led to his death. But the very next one that came flying after it literally forced its way into Gregor’s back; Gregor tried to drag himself away, as if the startling, unbelievable pain might disappear with a change of place. “(Kafka 37) This harshness was the basis of his father’s punishment and raising of Kafka, and Gregor. In his letter Kafka explains that while he was young his father put him out on the patio and leave him there for asking for water. After several vigorous had failed to have any effect, you took me out of bed, carried me out to the pavlatche, and left me there alone for awhile in my nightshirt, outside the shut door. “(Kafka ) Kafka does not blame his father because he understood the differences between them were the cause of his father’s disappointment. Kafka’s father held high expectations for him and Kafka held himself up to those standards, resulting in his disappointment in himself. Lillie 3 “There was I, skinny, weakly, slight; you strong, tall, broad.
Even inside the hut I felt a miserable specimen, and what’s more, not only in your eyes but the whole world. “(Kafka) These high expectations brought on by his father’s personality, and Kafka’s endless striving to meet those expectations started when he was very young, causing in him a sense of inadequacy that he eventually portrays in Gregor, in the transformation to the unsightly vermin that he saw himself as. When it comes down to it Kafka and his father did not communicate in the way a normal father and son would.
They did not have a common bond that would hold through their differences because his father would always hold his son to his own standards and Kafka would hold himself to those standards. Ultimately he found himself inadequate to those standards and as a result he would isolate himself in his room with his books and writing, penning the ideas that would form The Metamorphosis. Gregor’s transformation is the personification of Kafka’s relationship with his father and his own isolation due to it. Shutting himself off from all other life and communication to the rest of the family.
He understood that no one was to be blamed, but it was the fault of both. His father was overbearing and judgmental, Kafka was timid and wanted to live up to the overbearing demands. It was a mix that could have only resulted the way that it had. Lillie 4
Works Cited Kafka, Franz. “Franz Kafka’s Letter to His Father. ” www. Kafka-Franz. com. Web. 22 Feb 2010. <http://www. kafka-franz. com/KAFKA-letter. htm>. Kafka Franz, Kafka, Franz, and . The Metamorphosis. New York: Bantam Classic, 2004. Print