It struck me as I was reading The Metamorphosis the first time this summer and again as I reread it this past week. Gregor’s narrative has some close parallels to stories I have heard from friends and/or read about the process of realizing you’re gay, accepting yourself, and coming out, especially in a less than accepting family.
Here are some key points:
- Gregor transforms into a beetle but doesn't freak out. He’s still himself. He sill thinks the same way, has the same priorities, and feels the same love for his family.
- His family freaks out when his new form is revealed. His mother faints, his dad beats him, and his sister doesn’t know how to deal with him.
- His family has some recognition that he is still their Gregor but still treat him as if he is something less than human. They resent him. Especially given the context of Kafka’s life and times, Gregor’s homosexuality would have been a stigma that the whole family would face. Think about how the borders reacted when he (literally) came out. They can’t let him be seen or heard by anyone. It’s as if they no longer have a son and brother. They refer to him as “it,” a problem to be gotten rid of.
- They drive him to give up on life. In the same way, the incidence of running away and suicide is significantly higher among gay and lesbians teens and young adults more so than any other demographic. Gregor dies in pain and alone.