Stories of Franz Kafka The Metamorphosis - Chapter 2
Gregor awakens at dusk later that day, after sleeping deeply for so many hours. It is the pangs of hunger that bring his body to the door, where he finds a bowl of milk with bread floating in it. Although he hates milk, he makes every attempt to view this food as if it were manna from heaven, ultimately leaving it untouched. His entire body aches from the morning's excitement, especially his numerous legs; one of which is severely injured.
Gregor looks around at the apartment he so proudly finances for his parents and sister and wonders what will become of it, of them, and of his job.
In order to avoid such thoughts, he continues to crawl through the apartment, opening doors as he goes. He crawls under the couch, as to feel invisible and comfortable, and spends the remainder of the night there, wishing his sides did not stick out. In the morning, Grete walks into the room to find her brother sprawled out under the couch. After a long while, she finally realizes that Gregor has neither eaten his food nor drunk his milk. She leaves to retrieve more food and returns with an old piece of cheese, some bread and butter, water, raisins, and almonds. The bowl is now apparently an all purpose food bowl for Gregor alone. Famished, he devours the food, leaving only small portions untouched, and remains under the couch. He now wishes the couch were larger, for he is bloated and his stomach seems to be growing at a rapid pace. As Grete sweeps the remains of Gregor's meal with a broom and rag, Gregor notices how his injuries from the previous day have already healed. He feels no more pain and realizes that the animal state either has less sensitivity than the human state or a much quicker healing time. After cleaning the food, Gregor comes out from under the couch and puffs himself up to a normal size again. Gregor is fed this way twice a day from this point on.
As Gregor habituates to his new status, so does his family. They have new rules set up on how to cope with the new situation. Nobody is to be left alone with Gregor. Furthermore, the maid begs Mr. Samsa to dismiss her immediately, which he does so willingly. With the maid gone, Anna and Grete are left to do the housework, cooking, and cleaning.
Mr. Samsa summarizes the family's financial predicament, much to Gregor's surprise. Things seem to be in much better shape than he expected, he claims, since he has been imprisoned in his new body. They reminisce about the transformation of Gregor from a clerk to a successful traveling salesman, bringing home mountains of hard cash for the family's pleasure. "Those had been wonderful times, and they had never returned, at least not with the same glory, although later on Gregor earned enough money to meet the expenses of the entire family and actually did so. They had just gotten used to it, the family as well as Gregor, the money was received with thanks and given with pleasure." The Metamorphosis, Chapter 2, pg. 27 Grete remained close with her brother, sharing her desires to study violin at the conservatory in town. Often Gregor would visit it during his traveling days as a salesman, and had always planned on announcing his plans to support this dream on Christmas Eve. Gregor listens at the door to his father speak about their current financial situation, with thoughts such as Grete's violin dreams plaguing his every thought. Unfortunately, they are no good to him in his present status, and so, Gregor continues to only listen. He is thrilled to learn that things are not as bad as he initially thought, for his father had planned wisely and saved enough of Gregor's earnings to last for at least a year or two.
Gregor wonders what will happen to his family, for his father - in the last five years - has put on weight and become sluggish, now finally enjoying a vacation in his hard-working unsuccessful life. His mother suffers from severe asthma, rendering her helpless and oftentimes laying on her back gasping for breath. His sister is merely a seventeen-year-old girl who knows nothing in life but of pretty clothes and playing the violin. Gregor does not know what will become of his beloved family now that he is unable to work. He falls onto the couch in shame and grief contemplating such thoughts until the morning.
Gregor's eyesight begins to wane, while his relationship with the family transforms. He wishes he could speak with his sister, to thank her for all she has done for him. Yet, each time she enters his room, he feels nothing but embarrassment and pain. "Hardly she entered the room than she would run straight to the window without taking time to close the door - though she was usually so careful to spare everyone the sight of Gregor's room - then tear open the casements with eager hands, almost as if she were suffocating, and remain for a little while at the window even in the coldest weather, breathing deeply. With this racing and crashing, she frightened Gregor twice a day; the whole time he cowered under the couch, and yet he knew very well that she would certainly have spared him this if only she had found it possible to stand being in a room with him with the window closed." The Metamorphosis, Chapter 2, pg. 30
About a month after his metamorphosis, Gregor decides to make a slight change to help his sister. He takes a sheet and places it over himself when he hides under the couch, so that nobody will have to look at him and be repulsed. This setup takes Gregor four hours - to hide under the couch and then place the white sheet over it - and seems to work well for the time being. Grete smiles briefly of relief when she notices the change. For the first two weeks, Gregor's parents do not see him. After the time passes, Gregor's mother cries out to him, begging his father to allow her to see him. Gregor is thrilled to see his mother, but hopes that she only helps out with his problems once a week instead of every day (like Grete).
Gregor learns to use his body more easily, climbing on the walls and swinging from the ceiling. His tracks are left all over his room in sticky form. Because of his seeming enjoyment, Grete decided to remove all his furniture so that he can move around more easily and have fun climbing. Unfortunately, a small sixteen-year-old girl cannot move all the furniture alone. Anna does not agree with Grete, for she fears removing all his furniture will alienate him and make him feel as if the family has completely abandoned him. Furthermore, she harbors the hope that Gregor will return to his normal state soon enough and she believes the room should stay as is for that future time. Unfortunately, Anna Samsa insists upon keeping all furniture inside the room, despite Grete's perpetual urging. "Into a room in which Gregor ruled the bare walls all alone, no human being beside Grete was ever likely to set foot." The Metamorphosis, Chapter 2, pg. 34 Gregor's mother still does not believe in changing the room; however, if she believes it will help her son, she accedes to compromise. Together, Grete and Anna remove the chest of drawers from the room, yet leave the desk. Initially, Anna is shocked again by Gregor's repugnant appearance. When she eventually accustoms herself to it, the two women remove each piece of furniture slowly, causing harsh noises on the floor. Gregor is disoriented, hurt, and upset that they are taking away his entire life, his memories, his hard work. When the two are gone momentarily, he leaps onto the wall and grabs the picture with the woman in fur, holding onto it under his sticky stomach. He thinks that if Grete were to chase him up the wall to retrieve the picture, he would fly into her face.
Gregor escapes from his room, climbing on the walls. When his mother sees the enormous brown blotch on the wall in the living room, she faints dramatically, causing Grete to remain with her to bring her back to consciousness. In the midst of the calamity, Mr. Samsa comes home, enraged to find Gregor outside of his prison-like room, his daughter discombobulated, and his wife passed out on the floor. He enters the house dressed in his bank attire, furious with Gregor. His pockets are full of fruit and he finds some more and hurls apples at Gregor. One of them hits him in the back, lodging itself in the brown mass that is Gregor's body. Upon hearing the racket, Grete and Anna rush out to stop the violence. Anna is in her underwear, as Grete undressed her trying to allow her body to breathe so that she may regain consciousness. Gregor sees everything, including his mother leaping on top of his father in order to prevent him from hurting Gregor any more.