The use of food to signify the starving for attention in The Metamorphosis

References to food are a recurring theme in Franz Kafka’s The Metamorphosis. The food that Gregor eats to reinforce his physical body shows the attention that he receives from his family to satiate his psychological appetite. As the story progresses, the family grows more far-off, and Gregor’s eating habits decrease till, at the story’s end, Gregor dies of physical– and possibly psychological– hunger.

When Gregor discovers that he has been “transformed into a monstrous vermin” (1640 ), among his first issues is eating breakfast. Even before he finds a method to crawl out of his bed, Gregor considers his hunger. Kafka explains Gregor as “ravenous” and states that he wants “above all [to] have breakfast” (1642 ), even before contemplating what to do about his condition. The focus that Kafka puts on Gregor’s appetite shows that repeating references to food may have some symbolic meaning in the story.

The next time that Kafka discusses food in relation to Gregor is when his sis has left food for him while he was sleeping. Gregor is “hungrier now than in the early morning” (1651) and is satisfied to discover that his sis had actually attentively brought him a bowl of milk, his preferred thing to consume. The milk however, fails to please him as it had prior to his change. The sister’s consideration in bringing Gregor milk exposes the family’s issue for Gregor and their willingness to offer assistance; Gregor’s change in taste shows the change that has actually occurred in his relationship with his household. Though they still look after him and desire to assist him, the dynamic of the relationship has been undoubtedly altered.

In spite of the extreme modification that Gregor has actually gone through, he reveals a strong interest in being as small of a problem as possible to his family. He wants to “assist the family sustain the hassles that … he was required to trigger them in his present state” (1652 ). This attitude is additional highlighted when his sibling comes in later on that evening to check on him. Although Gregor was quite starving due to the fact that the food he was accustomed to no longer satisfied him, “he would rather starve to death” (1652) than appear ungrateful by interacting to his sister that he did not take pleasure in the food she had actually offered him. She notices, however, that Gregor didn’t consume the milk, and takes it away only to return with: an entire selection of food, all expanded on an old newspaper. There were old, half-rotten vegetables, some bones left over from dinner and covered with a solidified white sauce, a few raisins and almonds, some cheese that Gregor had actually stated inedible 2 days back, dry bread, bread and butter, and salted bread and butter. (1652 )

The sibling’s effort to determine what type of food Gregor takes pleasure in most– by offering him with many choices– is an indicator of the family’s interest in Gregor’s well-being. Although the moms and dads are content to hear the sis’s reports of Gregor’s behavior and apparent health, their concern is still obvious. When, with time, it ends up being “increasingly more frequent” (1653) for Gregor not to interrupt his food, Kafka says that Gregor’s sis is sad when she sees that he hasn’t eaten. Her grief demonstrates yet once again the concern that the family has for Gregor.

This family’s interest, nevertheless, fades as the monotony of taking care of Gregor becomes more of a problem to the family as they try to continue with their lives. As the story advances, the sister’s careful look after Gregor develops into an apathetic and required routine:

No longer paying any observe to what might be a special reward for Gregor, the sis, before rushing off to work in the morning and after lunch, would use her foot to shove some random food into Gregor’s space. Then, at night, indifferent regarding whether the food had been simply tasted or– usually the case– left completely unblemished, she would sweep it out with a swing of the broom. (1663 )

This absence of issue for Gregor is mirrored both by Gregor’s attitude toward the family and by his lack of interest in food. Gregor was “filled with sheer rage at being poorly taken care of” and “not able to picture anything that might tempt his hunger” (1663 ). On the surface, it seems ironic that Gregor is mad since the sister does not care for him well enough even though he does not eat what she does offer him. On closer assessment, nevertheless, this paradox vanishes since what Gregor truly desires is not temporal food, but the intangible nourishment that could be derived from the love of his household. Although Gregor is not totally aware of it yet, he is not angry since his room isn’t kept tidy or since he isn’t supplied with proper food; rather, as he would later on find, he longs simply for the love and attention of his household.

The sibling’s indifference toward Gregor continues to grow up until she stops looking after him entirely. The family servant undertakes the task in the sister’s stead. The fact that Gregor’s care has actually been entirely turned over to somebody outside the family conveys an even greater insensitivity toward Gregor’s physical and emotional needs.

In keeping with the pattern, Gregor’s appetite continues to diminish as the household’s issue for him minimizes. After Gregor’s care is relegated to the servant, “Gregor was now consuming next to nothing. It was only 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 then normally spit it out again” (1664 ). At this point in the story, Kafka points out that Gregor ponders simply what it is that is making him lose his cravings. “In the beginning, he believed that his suffering about the condition of his space was what kept him from eating, but he soon concerned terms with those very changes” (1664 ). If Gregor’s living conditions are not the main reason for his disinterest in food, there need to be another cause.

Kafka exposes the factor for Gregor’s disinterest in food when Gregor hears his sister playing her violin for the boarders. Gregor “felt as if he were being revealed the path to the unidentified food he was yearning for” (1666 ). Finally, Gregor understands what it is that he genuinely desires. He covets the attention of those that utilized to enjoy him. He wants his sister 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 sibling 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 emotional nourishment essential to a delighted life. He has actually reached the point where he no longer cares to live without the love of his family, and thus fails to take in the life-sustaining food offered him by the servant.

Gregor’s overlook of his physical requirements and the household’s insensitivity towards his psychological needs eventually lead to his death. The evening before Gregor’s death, the sibling says that Gregor “needs to go … that’s the only method” (1668 ). With that declaration, any remaining sensations of issue that might have been present are lost. The family views Gregor as a problem and has no desire to have him in their house. Although Gregor still cherishes his household and wish for those feelings to be requited, his thoughts that night show his sibling’s declaration. “He recalled his family with tenderness and love. His conviction that he would have to vanish was, if possible, even firmer than his sister’s” (1669 ).

After the servant discovers Gregor’s death the next early morning, she informs the household of the news. Their reaction strengthens the mindset that the sister had revealed the night before: “‘Well,’ stated Mr. Samsa, ‘now we can thank the Lord'” (1670 ). The family then went on an afternoon drive in the nation to escape the circumstance and to enjoy themselves for the first time since Gregor’s change (1672 ).

Gregor dies of hunger at the point when the household’s concern for him reaches an outright 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 sister, when describing Gregor’s corpse, states, “‘Simply look how skinny he was. Well, he stopped eating such a long time earlier. The food came back out exactly as it went in'” (1670 ). Although it is obvious that Gregor had been struggling with physical starvation, the family has no idea that Gregor has actually been running out from a completely different type of hunger– one that they might have prevented if they had been more attentive to him.