Study Questions for Franz Kafka's "The Metamorphosis" [1915]

  1. How would you define and characterize the narrator of the story? What kind of narrator is this? How many characters' thoughts do we enter?
  2. While Kafka's narrator provides no explanation as to how this fantastic transformation has occurred, the entire story, once we accept Gregor's condition, seems credible. What devices and details help to create this sense of verisimilitude, of being true or real?
  3. Does what we learn about Gregor's relation to his job, his responsibility to pay off his family's indebtedness to his boss, and his feelings about his co-workers help us to understand why he might have been transformed? Does the pleasure that Gregor feels working with his fretsaw--a saw used to cut intricate curves and patterns in wood--somehow help us to understand why he is transformed?
  4. How would you characterize the setting of the story? Does the detailed description of any objects or aspects of the apartment contribute to the story's meaning or to our understanding of Gregor? How does the setting of the story's final paragraph function?
  5. How would you characterize each family member's response to Gregor's transformation? Are these family members consistent, or do their views change over the course of the story?
  6. How would you characterize other characters' response to Gregor? Why does Kafka put the charwoman in charge of Gregor's "funeral."
  7. Are there any sympathetic characters in the story? Which ones?
  8. Who or what is responsible for Gregor's death?