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The Metamorphosis Paperback – September 12, 2009
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"Neverworld Wake" by Marisha Pessl
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I would have been gladly wiling to pay more money to have the text printed in a legible size, please do yourselves a favor and avoid yourselves the inconvenience and frustration of buying this book.
Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka was first published 1915 under the title 'Die Verwandlung'.
The overall story begins with a traveling salesman, Gregor Sansa, awakening late to his train that he needed to take for work and realizing that he has transformed or metamorphosed into a large insect creature. 一While Kafka never mentions what type of insect he turns into specifically, it is thought to be a dung beetle or cockroach.一Throughout, the cause of this metamorphosis isn't revealed rather the book is central on the effect this has had on his and his family's life. They now have to adjust to his new figure, this wasn't a easy task to say the least.
The full story, with spoilers. The story is comprised of 3 parts. It begins with a traveling salesman, Gregor Sansa, awakening and realizing that he has metamorphosed into a large insect creature. He then goes on to realize he was late for the train that takes him to work, which was odd behavior from him. His mother and sister come to check on him, he starts to speak through his still closed door but realizes his voice had changed as well. Once his boss arrives to see why Gregor hasn't come in for work, he tries his best to move his new 'figure' to open the door. His family and boss are shocked. Gregor attempts to go after his boss to explain but his father chases him back into the room. Now exhausted, he slept.
Next Part 2. Gregor awakes to see milk and bread, his favorite. Upon driving the milk he realizes he has no taste for it and doesn't eat. When his sister noticed this she replaces his meals with rotten food. Now his sister has been taking care of him, cleaning his room. He spends his time listening to his family through the walls, the often speak of what to do with him. They speak of how the situation has affected them financially. Gregor also learns his mother wants to visit. This whole situation unfolds similarly to the beginning when his family first realized of his condition. His mother faints and he returns to his room injured.
Next Part 3. Their families cleaning lady, which they can afford because they took in other people so they could have a little extra money, had accidentally left the door open to Gregor's room. Gregor's sister was playing violin for the people, Gregor grew enamored by this and the lodgers discovered him. They all became alarmed and decided to move out without paying rent due to the awful conditions of their house. His family, now fed up with dealing with their burden of a family member decide they needed to get rid of him. Upon hearing this, Gregor goes to his room and dies. A great sense of relief strikes the family. The lodgers move out, the maid is let off after disposing of Gregor's insect body, and they all move to a smaller home.
However, this story is much more than that, the description of his new life when compared to his old is filled to the brim with symbolism and metaphors. Gregor was the soul provider of the family, when he is suddenly out of the job since his insect body can't do the work his family no longer has a steady form of income. This rocks the family with grief, anxiety, and resentment. Later on in the story, his death will only bring joy and gain. The story is about a successful man going from the pride of the family to a burden due to an uncontrollable disease.
The overall symbolism I took after reading this story was that the disease that afflicted Gregor was metaphorical of AIDS (Or perhaps a disease similar to it that was common around the time of Kafka) and the effect it can have on an individual. While AIDS doesn't complete debilitate the patient like Gregor's, it has all the social implications that were tied with his disease. AIDS gives the individual a different view from others, like having the body of a insect. AIDS can also break up relationships, like the relationships Gregor had with his family. AIDS can make you a burden to others, the same as Gregor after his metamorphosis.
The book also personally struck a familiar chord with me. Metamorphosis is incredibly similar to The Nose by Nikolai Gogol. The story of the nose summed up is that a man who looks down on people he believes as less than or of lower class/rank. This is often referred to as looking down your nose at someone. However, one morning he loses his nose. His nose then goes on to take his position in the military and show him up. His nose then looks down on him as he is turned into a social outcast. The story overall resolves when he gets his nose back and learns how it feels to be looked down upon. While the overall moral result of the stories may not be the same, they share a large amount of similarities. Like both the men go through an odd situation that not at all common, to teach them and or the reader about a moral lesson. Both of these books create a good lesson through an odd and entertaining way, that's why they are familiar to me.
I would have to say, this book was very enjoyable to me. The story line was interesting and offered a deeper meaning. This is what I personally like to look for in a book. The phrase 'show, don't tell' is applied to books as well. The book had a good amount of symbolism for the reader to interpret, not too much so that the reader will be lost and not too little that the story is simple and has no depth. I'm glad I bought it.