he Metamorphosis part II starts shortly after the events of the previous chapter when Gregor was injured and forced back into his bedroom by his father. In this article, you’ll discover the summary and analysis of the second chapter, as prepared by our writers.
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🚪 The Metamorphosis Chapter II Summary
Gregor is woken up at the twilight of the same day by “a cautious shutting of the door” and reflects on this earlier accident. He notices that the crippled leg still has not healed and is hanging lifelessly on his body. “His left side felt like one single long, unpleasantly tense scar, and he had actually to limp on his two rows of legs.”
Gregor notices a bowl “filled with fresh milk in which floated little sops of white bread.” He immediately rushes to the bowl and dips his whole head in it with joy, as it has always been his favorite food. However, Gregor quickly realizes that his tastes have changed since his metamorphosis. He leaves this bowl and limps back to the middle of the room.
Through a small opening in the door, he can see what his family is doing. Gregor sees lights in the living room, though he does not hear anything. Usually, at this time, his father used to read newspapers out loud, as Grete always mentioned it in her letters during Gregor’s travels, but “not a sound was now to be heard.”
Gregor contemplates his family’s lifestyle and is proud to be able to provide for them. “As he sat there motionless staring into the darkness,” Gregor also worries about upcoming difficulties that might change all of that. He decides to divert his attention from such thoughts by crawling around his bedroom in each dimension and getting used to his vermin-like body. Also, he experiments with comfortable resting positions, and, having realized that sitting on the sofa is not so pleasant anymore, he crawls under it.
Early in the morning, he notices her sister opening the door once again. She takes the untouched food and leaves. Gregor can only speculate what she is going to do about it. To his enormous joy, Grete comes back with some “old, half-decayed vegetables, bones from last night’s supper…; some raisins and almonds; a piece of cheese that Gregor would have called uneatable two days ago; a dry roll of bread, a buttered roll and a roll both buttered and salted” and some water, leaving swiftly. He whizzes towards the rotten chunks and gladly devours them. While eating, Gregor speculates on the nature of his changing tastes.
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Thus, a routine of Grete’s tending to her brother begins. She brings meals twice a day, one in the early morning and another in the late evening. Both of them keep a silent pact of avoiding each other.
Many days pass as Gregor stays in his bedroom. Sometimes, he can hear his family’s conversations. Gregor overhears that their cook, Anna, “went down on her knees to his mother and begged leave to go.” Departing, she promised everyone not to “say a single word to anyone about what had happened.”
Gregor hears Mr. Samsa is talking about the family’s finances. The son realizes that the situation is better than he previously imagined. Mr. Samsa tells about his shares, which grew over the years. Additionally, Gregor’s salesman job and his financial self-deprivation have created a money surplus in the family. For a moment, he starts wondering why his father had not paid off the family’s debt earlier. He soon drops this idea, as “it was better the way his father had arranged it.” He also wonders about his sister’s future education at the Conservatorium since she is a gifted violinist, but only Gregor could support her education.
One day, Grete decides to rearrange and remove some of the furniture in Gregor’s bedroom. She believes that it will be more suitable for her brother, as his favorite activity is to move around the room on the ceiling, walls, and floor. She also agrees to bring her mother along for some help who has not seen her son since the first day of his metamorphosis. Grete enters the bedroom first “to see that everything was in order before letting his mother enter.”
While the women are rearranging the furniture, the mother confesses her concerns. She thinks that “it would be best to keep his room exactly as it has always been so that when he comes back to us, he will find everything unchanged and be able all the more easily to forget what has happened in between.” Gregor realizes that his mother is right. He swiftly crawls out of hiding onto the picture of the lady in the muff to show protest.
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As soon as she sees him, the mother faints in horror. Grete blames him and storms away. Gregor panics and springs into disarray around the dining room. At the same time, Mr. Samsa comes back from his new job. Gregor notices how impressive he looks in his new uniform.
The father considers Gregor a threat since his wife’s state, suspecting the worst. He starts angrily throwing apples at his son to scare him away and, possibly, to end his life. Mrs. Samsa stops him, but he badly wounds Gregor in the process.
🎭 Active Characters
Gregor Samsa, Grete Samsa, Mr. Samsa, Mrs. Samsa, Servant girl, Cook
🔥 Active Themes
😨 The Metamorphosis Chapter II Analysis
Through the analysis of The Metamorphosis chapter II, the reader can understand many psychological elements present in the novel. Since his metamorphosis, Gregor has had a complete change in his lifestyle. His new insectoid form made him locked up in his own bedroom. The whole absurdity of the situation shattered the whole family with its bizarreness. Gregor does not work anymore.
His transformation affects his appetites. He instinctively starts to prefer half-rotten food instead of the fresh one. While eating, he reflects on his new habits and tries to ask himself why he is eating this kind of food now. The scene shows that Gregor’s humanity still tries to find answers to his new metamorphosis.
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His sister Grete is also slowly transforming. Her emotions towards Gregor are changing. Grete is disgusted with her brother’s new appearance but tries not to show that. She brings him fresh food at first, trying to regard her brother as humanely as possible. She soon realizes that those changes are certainly bigger than she expected. She starts bringing more rotten food to Gregor. As the story progresses, Grete’s sympathy for Gregor lessens, which is apparent through her attitude towards feeding him. She provides him rotten food, removes the leftovers with a broom, and throws everything in a trash bin. No emotions, no attentiveness. She gradually starts perceiving Gregor as a bug.
Since Gregor still has a human mindset, he is also troubled by his transformation. While clenching at his spoiled food, he asks himself if he has become “less sensitive now,” thus, indicating a conflict between the body and mind. Over the nights, Gregor is reflecting on many things that connect him to his humanity. He proudly remembers that his job has kept the family well-off all those years. Simultaneously, he feels shame for not being able to provide for them anymore as he listens to his family talking about getting jobs through the door crack. It is most likely that Gregor’s existence and self-respect completely rely on his ability to support his family.
Gregor learns that their financial situation is not actually that desperate, as Mr. Samsa has kept some investments over the years. The relationship between Gregor and his family demonstrates that they had been using him all this time without much gratitude. The Samsa family relied on Gregor not out of desperation but only to keep their comfortable lifestyles. Even so, Gregor is hardly conscious of their true motifs, making him the only altruistic person in the story.
The scene with Grete and her mother in Gregor’s room also reveals quite a lot about their characters. Grete, still trying to care about her brother’s well-being, decides to take some furniture away to give him better freedom of movement. She also agrees to bring her mother along for help. At the same time, over the previous days, Grete became an authority figure towards Gregor, caring more about the fact of responsibility for him rather than Gregor’s needs. It could show Grete now has a feeling of power over her brother. She is a different person compared to the “somewhat useless daughter” that she was before.
At first, Gregor does not mind the rearrangement, believing that it can help him to crawl more freely. However, having heard his mother’s concerns about Gregor’s fading humanity, he quickly realizes how wrong his sister is. Gregor climbs onto the picture of the lady in the muff to show protest. This image acts as an important symbol in the book, representing the last bit of humanity left in Gregor.
The sister’s attempt to hide Gregor’s presence illustrates her resentment towards him. Mrs. Samsa’s reaction explains her perspective on Gregor as a human in a temporarily weird state. She simply cannot comprehend the idea that her son has turned into a monster. Moreover, the scene when Gregor has frightened his mother serves as a climax in a relationship between the two siblings. From now on, Grete will start openly showing her antipathy towards Gregor and see him more as an insect.
Father’s stand on the whole situation deserves a deeper analysis. From the very first encounter with Gregor, he sees him as a cockroach without humanity. The explanation could lie in Gregor’s inability to work, which frustrates Mr. Samsa. Over the years, he got used to leisure time and relaxation.
Also, it could be the fact that he simply refuses to believe that this kind of transformation can be possible and sees things as they are. Vladimir Nabokov’s illustration of Gregor could explain why the father is so reluctant to recognize his son in a vermin’s body. Still, Mr. Samsa has too undergone his own metamorphosis. He has a job now and financially supports the family, looking fresh and professional in his new uniform, another important symbol in the story. All of this increases Gregor’s uselessness.
To summarize all of the aforementioned points, Gregor has become somewhat of a burden for the family in The Metamorphosis chapter II. His situation affects their attitude towards Gregor, as they become more and more disconnected from him. This separation will have significant consequences in the next chapter.