Starving for Attention: Food in Kafka’s Metamorphosis Chad Hayes

Recommendations to food are a repeating style in Franz Kafka’s The Metamorphosis. The food that Gregor eats to reinforce his physique shows the attention that he receives from his family to satiate his emotional hunger. As the story advances, the household grows more distant, and Gregor’s consuming routines decrease till, at the story’s end, Gregor dies of physical – and maybe emotional – starvation.

When Gregor finds that he has actually been “changed into a monstrous vermin” (1640 ), among his first concerns is eating breakfast. Even prior to he finds a method to crawl out of his bed, Gregor considers his appetite. Kafka explains Gregor as “ravenous” and states that he desires “above all [to] have breakfast” (1642 ), even prior to contemplating what to do about his condition. The emphasis that Kafka puts on Gregor’s hunger indicates that repeating references to food might have some symbolic significance in the story.

The next time that Kafka points out food in relation to Gregor is when his sibling has left food for him while he was sleeping. Gregor is “hungrier now than in the morning” (1651) and is thrilled to discover that his sister had attentively brought him a bowl of milk, his favorite thing to consume. The milk however, fails to please him as it had before his transformation. The sister’s consideration in bringing Gregor milk reveals the family’s concern for Gregor and their determination to use assistance; Gregor’s change in taste reflects the modification that has actually happened in his relationship with his household. Though they still take care of him and desire to assist him, the dynamic of the relationship has actually been inevitably altered.

In spite of the drastic modification that Gregor has actually gone through, he reveals a strong interest in being as little of a problem as possible to his household. He wishes to “assist the household endure the hassles that … he was forced to trigger them in his present state” (1652 ). This attitude is further showed when his sis can be found in later on that night to look at him. Although Gregor was quite starving because the food he was accustomed to no longer satisfied him, “he would rather starve to death” (1652) than appear unthankful by communicating to his sis that he did not delight in the food she had offered him. She notifications, however, that Gregor didn’t consume the milk, and takes it away only to return with:

a whole array of food, all expanded on an old newspaper. There were old, half-rotten veggies, some bones left over from dinner and coated with a strengthened white sauce, a few raisins and almonds, some cheese that Gregor had actually stated inedible 2 days back, dry bread, support, and salted bread and butter. (1652 )

The sis’s effort to determine what kind of food Gregor takes pleasure in most – by offering him with a lot of choices – is a sign of the family’s interest in Gregor’s welfare. Although the parents are content to hear the sibling’s reports of Gregor’s habits and evident health, their concern is still evident. When, gradually, it ends up being “a growing number of frequent” (1653) for Gregor not to interrupt his food, Kafka states that Gregor’s sibling is sad when she sees that he hasn’t eaten. Her grief shows yet again the concern that the family has for Gregor.

This household’s interest, however, fades as the uniformity of looking after Gregor becomes more of a burden to the family as they attempt to carry on with their lives. As the story progresses, the sister’s meticulous look after Gregor develops into an apathetic and required ritual:

No longer paying any follow to what might be an unique treat for Gregor, the sister, before hurrying off to work in the early morning and after lunch, would utilize her foot to push some random food into Gregor’s space. Then, in the evening, indifferent as to whether the food had been merely tasted or – most often the case – left completely untouched, she would sweep it out with a swing of the broom. (1663 )

This absence of concern for Gregor is mirrored both by Gregor’s attitude towards the household and by his lack of interest in food. Gregor was “filled with sheer rage at being improperly cared for” and “not able to imagine anything that might lure his hunger” (1663 ). On the surface area, it seems ironic that Gregor is angry because the sibling does not care for him all right although he does not consume what she does attend to him. On closer evaluation, nevertheless, this paradox vanishes due to the fact that what Gregor truly desires is not temporal food, but the intangible nutrition that could be originated from the love of his family. Although Gregor is not totally familiar with it yet, he is not upset due to the fact that his room isn’t kept clean or because he isn’t provided with correct food; rather, as he would later find, he longs simply for the love and attention of his household.

The sis’s indifference towards Gregor continues to grow up until she stops looking after him altogether. The home servant carries out the task in the sibling’s stead. The truth that Gregor’s care has been completely entrusted to somebody outside the household conveys an even greater insensitivity toward Gregor’s physical and emotional needs.

In keeping with the pattern, Gregor’s appetite continues to dwindle as the household’s concern for him lessens. After Gregor’s care is relegated to the servant, “Gregor was now consuming next to nothing. It was just when he took place to pass the food left for him that he would playfully take a morsel in his mouth, keep it in for hours and hours, and after that usually spit it out once again” (1664 ). At this moment in the story, Kafka points out that Gregor considers simply what it is that is making him lose his cravings. “At first, he thought that his suffering about the condition of his space was what kept him from eating, but he soon pertained to terms with those very modifications” (1664 ). If Gregor’s living conditions are not the main factor for his disinterest in food, there should be another cause.

Kafka reveals the factor for Gregor’s disinterest in food when Gregor hears his sibling playing her violin for the boarders. Gregor “felt as if he were being shown the course to the unknown food he was yearning for” (1666 ). Lastly, Gregor understands what it is that he really desires. He covets the attention of those that utilized to love him. He wants his sis to come into his room, “sit next to him,” and “remain with him not by force, however of her own free choice” (1667 ). Gregor longs to reveal to his household his love for his sis and his desire to attend to her by financing her education at the conservatory. More than for physical food, Gregor is starving for attention, the psychological nutrition essential to a happy life. He has reached the point where he no longer cares to live without the love of his household, and therefore stops working to take in the life-sustaining food attended to him by the servant.

Gregor’s neglect of his physical requirements and the household’s insensitivity toward his emotional requirements eventually cause his death. The eve Gregor’s death, the sis says that Gregor “needs to go … that’s the only way” (1668 ). With that declaration, any staying sensations of concern that might have existed are lost. The family views Gregor as a burden and has no desire to have him in their home. Although Gregor still cherishes his household and wish for those sensations to be requited, his ideas that night reflect his sister’s statement. “He recalled his household with tenderness and love. His conviction that he would need to vanish was, if possible, even firmer than his sister’s” (1669 ).

After the servant discovers Gregor’s death the next early morning, she notifies the family of the news. Their response reinforces the mindset that the sister had expressed the night before: “‘Well,’ said Mr. Samsa, ‘now we can thank the Lord'” (1670 ). The household then went on an afternoon drive in the nation to get away from the scenario and to enjoy themselves for the very first time considering that Gregor’s improvement (1672 ).

Gregor dies of hunger at the point when the household’s concern for him reaches an absolute minimum. Simply as it is throughout the story, Gregor’s physical appetite is directly related to the unfinished desire for psychological sustenance from those he loves. Gregor’s sibling, when explaining Gregor’s corpse, states, “‘Just look how slim he was. Well, he stopped eating such a long time ago. The food returned out exactly as it entered'” (1670 ). Although it is apparent that Gregor had been experiencing physical starvation, the family has no concept that Gregor has been wasting away from a totally different type of hunger – one that they might have avoided if they had been more mindful to him.

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