I was tasked to write a "Reading Response" to a passage of my choosing from "The Metamorphosis" by Kafka. However, I had to use First Blood references to explain my breakdown to prove a point. Please review and criticize the following piece:
(first: The ending was intended to be hammy. I was trying to draw tears of confusion.)
“If it were Gregor, he would have long ago realized that a communal life amongst human beings is not possible with such an animal and would have gone away voluntarily. Then we would not have a brother, but we could go on living and honor his memory. But this animal plagues us.”
This quote near the end of The Metamorphosis is from Grete, Gregor’s once loving sister, who is now trying to convince the family that the vermin now occupying their house needs to be disposed of because he is not family. This is significant because throughout the rest of the story Grete is the only family member who makes any real attempt to care for Gregor in his new form. However, in time, she sees him as nothing more than a nuisance and attempts to rationalize her selfishness by saying that she believes Gregor is not inside the vermin, or it would know what a burden he is and leave of his own accord. Grete’s change of heart indicates to us that Gregor is now truly alone, and all the love he ever had from his family is gone. This would be the last straw for Gregor, who would go on to die.
The metamorphosis in Grete’s mind that turns Gregor from beloved brother to hated vermin immediately brings to mind the story of John Rambo, and of many veterans that struggle when returning to “the world.” Rambo was once a useful, important member of society, fighting in hellish conditions to make our lives better, much like the conditions Gregor Samsa works under, as he is unsatisfied by his career and life in general. But Rambo is only useful “over there,” much like Gregor only being useful when he is able to work and support the family. So when Rambo came home, unwelcome, spit on, and kicked out of town by Brian Dennehy, he transformed into a creature made of murder and destruction, the only things he knew how to do. Grete’s speech and attitude toward Gregor in his new vermin form is very much the same as the attitude many people have toward the returning veterans, that they should just go away so the rest of us can honor their memory without having the burden of having to actually deal with the people involved.
The rationalization is the most important aspect of this quote, even her whole speech. In Grete’s mind, she is turning not against Gregor, beloved brother and caretaker, but against a horrible vermin that has no connection to her brother. She uses this rationalization to kill Gregor in her mind, and this is what really leads to his literal death, more so than his critical apple wound. Humans are social creatures who need love as much as they need food. Gregor, who was still very much human in his heart, starved to death when the last person on Earth feeding him with love stopped believing in him. One could argue that this makes Grete the worst person in The Metamorphosis universe. She is the person who killed Gregor with poisonous words, metaphorically killing all the “vermin” whom larger society deems “unfit for sacrifice.” She strips him of his humanity, and his will to live, by adding literal insult to literal injury. But in the end she goes off to lead a happy comfortable life, without a tear or thought for Gregor and the sacrifices he made for her and her dreams of going to band camp for the summer. Instead, she drew first blood. In her heart, she became the real Ungeziefer.
At the end I wanted to write "I wish Rambo would kill Grete," but the teacher warned me that she reviled gratuitous violence.