Life imitates art

I’ve been thinking about Kafka’s The Metamorphosis.
I’m wondering why the hell he turned into a cockroach (plenty of scholars say Kafka didn’t specify what kind of bug young Gregor became, but I say it was a cockroach). From a survivalist standpoint, it makes sense. Cockroaches are amazingly resourceful and resilient creatures. They withstand the extremes of nature, they can live a month without food, and they can survive many times the radiation dose that humans can survive. Sure they’re not particularly bright, and sure they’re generally reviled, but you have to admire how well they avert danger, scurrying into the shadows, flattening themselves out, burrowing underground or making themselves nearly invisible until conditions are more favorable. They’re hardy little buggers; you have to give them that.

Still, Kafka’s vermin didn’t fare so well. Before his transformation, Gregor did little besides work and therefore didn’t form any meaningful attachments. He didn’t have any real friends, bless his little heart. He just plodded away, following the herd and such. After he went all buggy, he found himself shunned by his family, sad and lonely. He met his end in total isolation. Poor, poor Gregor.

So I wonder: Do we feel sorry for the little dude, that he cut himself off from people before they cut themselves off from him? Or do we say good riddance; we could use fewer cockroaches in this world?

*Note: In no way do I identify with cockroaches.



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4 responses to “Life imitates art

  1. This is slightly off topic, but I wanted to mention that my secret high-concept novel idea has now been officially been taken: Tyler Knox’s “Kockroach: A Novel,” in which a cockroach wakes up one morning to find, to its surprise, it has been transformed into a man.Perhaps the great lesson here is that metamorphosis can run both ways.

  2. I hope you’re right, Joshua.

  3. K

    Poor, poor Gregor.Was he smushed good and proper under a foot?

  4. I say good riddance. He wasn’t anything to write home about even when he was a man.

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