Discussion Questions 13 — Kafka; Rilke; Akhmatova; Lorca; Xun; Mahfouz
1. What is the relationship between Gregor and his family? What clues in the story suggest that his relationship with his family, particularly his father, is unsatisfactory?
The relationship between Gregor and his family are all different and I feel they all lend to each and every character’s personality. At first, Gregor was their key person…he was their provider after the family business went down and the father couldn’t pick himself up to regain footing. Even after the metamorphosis, the sister, Grete, was initially the only person helping Gregor. She first bought him milk and bread, but due to Gregor’s new form, he no longer liked his prior favorite food. So she left him old, rotten scraps and he devoured that. Eventually though, she grew tired after trying to help him so much. She wanted to live her life, be married and have her life back. While she did take care of him, she never tried to communicate with him.
The mother wanted to go see her “new” son, but the father and Grete kept her away from him because they didn’t want her to see what her son had become. He was no longer the traveling salesman, he was a cock roach. Her and Grete moved the furniture around so Gregor could have more space but when it distressed Gregor, he tried to keep a picture on the wall by crawling on it and it freaked his mother out. When she ran out, she left the door open and he chased after her. When the father seen him , he thought he was trying to attack her so he started throwing apples at him. An apple got lodged in Gregor’s back and he was badly hurt.
After this occurrences, the family had little money and even the new renters seen Gregor and demanded to leave. They knew in order to make their lives normal again, they had to make Gregor leave. Gregor died, and the family was able to afford a much nicer place and moved. Initially, the father put all the bearing of having a family on Gregor. It was like he had no want to support his family. I know that losing a business is devastating, but when you have a family to support…and the son has to step up to support a family of four…you would think the father would recognize this. But even after Gregor’s transformation, he doesn’t even try to see him, no ‘thanks’ were ever in order or anything.
2. Discuss the central events in each of the three sections of The Metamorphoses. In what ways do these events suggest that the weakening of Gregor results in the strengthening of the family as a whole?
1. Gregor was the sole provider. After the loss of the family business he was the only one with enough “oopmh” to keep his family above water. They all depended on him, no thanks was ever given and no help was ever offered.
2. Gregor awoke to find himself in the form a giant bug. When Gregor’s boss visited and told Gregor he would basically be fired, he showed himself and hiss boss took off running. He could no longer work and provide. So his father found another job, they rented out their home and found other ways to take the place of what Gregor was giving them. But still, the only person taking care of Gregor was his sister and the new, older housekeeper would clean and sometimes converse with him. They bonded over the hatred that grew over Gregor’s presence.
3. After the tenants threatened to leave, lost interest in Grete and Grete even grew tiresome of taking care of her brother, she told her parents they needed to get rid of him. They talked aloud in hopes Gregor would leave himself, and he did. He died and in the end, they were so much happier. Gregor dying caused them to have to work themselves, they moved out and got a nicer place.
3. How effective do you find Akhmatova’s Requiem as a political protest? Requiem was not published until well after the purges were over and Stalin was dead; is it, then, totally lacking in influence?
I admit, this poem had me a little bit confused so I had to go outside of it and look at the background to it. This was a lot of little poems pieced together, but it was supposed to be read like one giant piece of work. It was also considered Akhmatova’s masterpiece. Her experience of standing in the jail line waiting for news was related to religion, like that was the only thing that could save her. And so many bad things happened in the poem, that she goes on to say that the only thing that could make her life better would be to forget. So, she tries to forget. That doesn’t work either. So she wishes death upon herself. I’m sure that must have been how a lot of people felt during the reign of Stalin. They thought that no life was better than that life they were living at the time. It puts forth so many different feelings and insights that would have caused her maybe her life if it had been released during his reign. It is definitely not lacking in influence, in my opinion. It lets us know how detrimental things like that is to humanity and hopefully, this will document history so it doesn’t repeat itself. Clearly, it was not lacking if it was considered, or is considered a “masterpiece”.
4. How should we interpret the famous command at the end of Archaic Torso of Apollo?
“It doesn’t see you: you’ve got to change your life.” How much power do you have to have in one sentence? YOU HAVE GOT TO CHANGE YOUR LIFE! I am not even sure and forgive me professor, but the kind of question this is? It is so simple. No one can change your life but you. I can’t have my husband change my life. I have to change it. You have to want change. If you are not happy…change it. Change isn’t going to find you. You have to find change. Actually, I really have always loved a Dr.Seuss rhyme that I feel goes with this: “Unless some one like you cares a whole awful lot, it’s not going to get better…it’s not.” No one cares or should care about your life more than you do. So…you change it.
World Lit. and Dr. Seuss I love it. Funny how everyday life, memories, and childhood favorites can resemble literature from around the world and bring it all to a clearer understanding. I found it sad how it took Gregor’s death to bring the family together. I am not sure they got a nicer place in the end but I think they got one which suited them better.