Saturday, January 24, 2015

Is Gregor gay?

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. 



Joe D said...

I think this is a perfectly valid hypothesis, so long as a you don't try to link every part of the novella to it (for instance, opening door with mouth (no homosexuals I know do that), secreting everywhere, etc.).

This hypothesis reminds me of the story of Alan Turing. Born in the early 1900s, he and his grade school boyfriend learned cryptography to pass cute notes between each other in classes. During World War II, the British were faced with the ostensibly impenetrable German Enigma machine. Seeing as cryptography and his affinity for puzzles made the task of solving Enigma to be right up Alan's alley. Now, being that society perceived that homosexuality was a not only a disease, but also a crime , Alan naturally developed reclusive habits.

Alan invented the computer to solve Enigma. We owe the technology that we use today--the one I'm typing on right now--to Alan's first machine, Christopher. He named the computer Christopher in memoriam of his childhood boyfriend, who had succumbed to tuberculosis. In a vain attempt to conceal his preferences, he married his peer on the Enigma project, Joan Clarke.

Still feeling internally oppressed, Alan became a professor at Cambridge and let his reclusiveness consume him. He was later accused of raping a small boy and put on medication that was geared at "de-homosexualizing" him. The medication severely altered his mental state and intellectual capacity. Finally, unable to advance in his life's work, he committed suicide.

Society's incorrect inferences regarding homosexuality murdered one of the brightest men of the twentieth century. Similarly, Gregor's difference in appearance made society reject him, and he died as a result.

Breuna Westry said...

I find your point interesting Iris. They depended on Gregor in order to be able to live, but as soon as he comes out their entire view about him changes. They no longer think of him as the bread winner, but a vermin. When they hide him away in his room it is as if they are trying to shove him back in the closet where this new form can be out of sight and out of mind.