Gregor’s Loss of Human Identity in His World

depressed man in sunset

The tenets of Marxist Theory are socio-economic, the ideology of materialism, alienation as a result of a capitalistic system, and class relations (Bertens).  This theory can be used to interpret the text of the short story, “The Metamorphosis,” through the central theme of class relations, as well as alienation, and a socio-economic atmosphere in which the main character and his family live.

Franz Kafka’s “The Metamorphosis” is about the transformation of the main character, Gregor, into a vermin, which is a literal representation of a man who has lost his humanity through the socio-economic environment in which he lives.

In the beginning of the story, Gregor wakes up and realizes his human body has transformed into the body of a hideous bug.  He curses his job, saying, “What a strenuous career it is that I’ve chosen!  … There’s the curse of traveling, worries about making train connections, bad and irregular food, contact with different people all the time so you can never get to know anyone or become friendly with them. It can all go to Hell!” (Kafka).  This shows he finds little if any pride or pleasure in his career.

Karl Marx’s views on the relationship between the worker and his or her career depends on if the person is using his creativity and finds pleasure in his work and that he is doing it for himself, or if the worker produces whatever product and toils only for the benefit of his employer with no recognition for his labors.  If the latter is the case, then the worker has alienated himself from his own identity and from his own humanity (Sokel).

This is apparent in Gregor’s complaints about his drone-like occupation and the literal physical change of his humanity to that of a vermin, which is considered nothing more than a parasite and the lowest creature one can be (Sokel).

Gregor acquired his position as a salesman a few years earlier to pay back his parents’ debts to his boss that had incurred when his father lost his job. Living as part of the base structure (working class) of society, Gregor took on the faults of his parents – their debts – and the responsibility for supporting them and his sister.

The money he made went to paying his parents’ debts with little coming back to him.  He explains this situation to the chief clerk when the latter comes to Gregor’s family’s house by saying, “Being a commercial traveller is arduous but without travelling, I couldn’t earn a living.  … You’re well aware that I’m seriously in debt to our employer as well as having to look after my parents and my sister, so that I’m trapped in a difficult situation…” (Kafka).  Gregor goes on telling the chief clerk of his challenges as a travelling salesman, saying, “Nobody likes the travellers” (Kafka).

Gregor’s boss is part of the superstructure – the well-educated businessman’s sphere – and Gregor is in the proletariat/working class–base.

Because Gregor is toiling for his father who is not working and whom the latter reaps the benefits of Gregor’s labors by receiving the majority of his son’s wages and gives him very little, Gregor’s father represents the capitalist and Gregor, the alienated, dehumanized laborer (Sokel).

His father’s negative view of his son is illustrated in the text, as it reads, “His father had decided to bombard him” (Kafka), and his father “threw one apple after another” (Kafka) with the last one hitting him “squarely and lodged in his back” (Kafka).  This apple stayed in Gregor’s flesh as a reminder of the cruel actions of his father.

Gregor became the lowest living being in the house, which is shown through the family’s maid calling him an “old dung beetle” (Kafka) and threatening to smash him with a chair. He’d become even lower than the lowest of the working class.

With this physical change came Gregor’s mental change where he felt himself the vermin he’d turned into and consented to this state.  He’d resigned the position of breadwinner.

This left the parents and sister to figure a new course ahead.  Gregor’s mother toiled sewing various garments while his sister, Grete, worked as a saleswoman at a fashion shop, and learned shorthand and French at night to hopefully better her chances in careers later on.  Gregor’s father did not take up a job, hence changing the dynamics of the household once again since Gregor’s transformation.

His parents ended up renting out one of their rooms to strangers and served them meals.  The living room and kitchen had become occupied and dominated by the lodgers, which represents the family’s enslavement to the capitalistic society noted in the text that says the lodgers “sat up at the table where, formerly, Gregor had taken his meals with his father and mother; they unfolded the serviettes and picked up their knives and forks” (Kafka).

Through Gregor’s loss of identity and humanity in the socio-economic environment in which he lived, he became the sacrificial lamb for the system.





Works Cited
Bertens, Hans.  Literary Theory:  The Basics.  3rd ed.  London and New York:  Routledge, 2014.
Kafka, Franz.  “The Metamorphosis.”  20 May 2012. Web. Accessed 12 August 2017.
Sokel, Walter H.  “From Marx to Myth:  The Structure and Function of Self-Alienation inKafka’sMetamorphosis.”  The Literary Review.  Web.  Accessed 12 August 2017.

Loss of Habitat & Life On Earth — A Heavy Weight On Our Shoulders

What’s going on in the world’s environment?

Overall, I believe many things happening to the environment are our doing. When we do good things for life on the planet, good things happen. When we do bad things, there are consequences, consequences of our own doing.

Only we are to blame for taking more than we need (greed). We think since we were given charge over all living beings and the planet, we decide who/what lives or dies and how to treat the Earth (pride). We can destroy animals’ habitats as we like and not face the repercussions. 

We do this in a myriad of ways: wars, over farming, over fishing, poaching, mowing down of rain forests, polluting the air, water, and soil with toxic chemicals like Round Up’s glyphosate and other deadly poisons like neonicotinoids that have been causing massive deaths of honey bees.

Then there are oil spills and tossing plastics in our oceans, rivers, waterways as if these are our personal trashcans. And it ticks me off because one of my pet peeves is LITTERING. Why anyone would think a body of water is a dumping ground for his or her own trash is beyond me. It’s careless, lazy, and cruel.

On October 29, the World Wildlife Fund released their newest data on the loss of animals. Between 1970 and 2014, we’ve lost 60% of our wildlife. These include “mammals, birds, reptiles, and amphibians” (Davis and Walsh).

What is the cause of this tragic loss? Us. Not the Earth doing its thing. Us.

In the article from the WWF, it states, “The top threats to species identified in the report are directly linked to human activities, including habitat loss and degradation and overexploitation of wildlife.” 

Perhaps this isn’t news to you. You’ve known about what’s happening with animals all over the globe. And you are one of many people who are trying to do what you can to support the lives of God’s creatures. Kudos. We do try to do our part.

I knew of recent animals that had gone extinct, like the black rhino (heartbreaking) in 2011, and the announcement that bumblebees are now on the endangered species list.  But I had no idea 60% of wildlife had been wiped out in the last 40 years. Devastating. 

WWF’s executive director of science and conservation, Mike Barrett, said in a Guardian article, ““We are sleepwalking towards the edge of a cliff. If there was a 60% decline in the human population, that would be equivalent to emptying North America, South America, Africa, Europe, China and Oceania. That is the scale of what we have done.”

That’s a pretty devastating message. 

Recently, I saw a beautiful ad that Iceland banned as being too political. Below is the video via you tube. It’s not too political. It’s TRUTH. 

The truth is shown in that little minute and a half ad. The truth that there are only 7500 orangutans left in this world, losing on average a thousand a year. This ad needs to be out there for people to see.

Check your food products. If they have PALM OIL listed, consider not purchasing it. The orangutans’ habitat is being destroyed for palm oil. These poor animals have lost their food and homes. It’s killing them off. So please read the ingredients on the foods you get to make sure you’re not supporting their extinction. 

Two more pieces of data from the Living Planet Report for 2018 that was echoed in the ad above: “Species population declines are especially pronounced in the tropics, with South and Central America suffering the most dramatic decline, an 89% loss compared to 1970” and “Freshwater species numbers have also declined dramatically, with the Freshwater Index showing an 83% decline since 1970.”

What have we done to help keep God’s creatures alive and well? The WWF said that the creation of the US Endangered Species put in place in 1973, has helped 99% of the listed endangered species to be saved from extinction.

What else can we do to help? Wildlife and biodiversity issues have to stay as one of our top concerns.

Little things my family does is we don’t use straws at home or at restaurants because of the plastic problem in our oceans and other waterways. We try and buy recyclable and biodegradable items. We don’t use harmful pesticides on our yard. We don’t litter anywhere.

My family donates to certain organizations, but we don’t specify which ones because in our Orthodox Christian faith, we aren’t supposed to announce what we give for the good of others, but do so privately. 

All of God’s creation matter on this Earth. He assigned us to take care of this planet, and we need to step up and do that. He’s counting on us. 

“Love all creation, the whole of it and every grain of sand within it. Love every leaf, every ray of God’s light. Love the animals, love the plants, love everything. If you love everything, you will perceive the divine mystery in things.” – Starets Zosima from the novel, The Brothers Karamazov


Works Cited

Carrington, Damian. “Humanity has wiped out 60% of animal populations since 1970, report finds.” The Guardian. 29 October 2018.

Davis, Elizabeth and Katie Walsh. “WWF Report Reveals Staggering Extent of Human Impact on Planet.” World Wildlife Fund. 29 October 2018.

Tarlach, Gemma. ” Pesticides, Not Mites, Cause Honeybee Colony Collapse.” Discover Magazine. 9 May 2014.

Life Issues




In our society, when the topic of life comes up, especially during election years, such as this one, many people immediately think of the pro-life movement. Those folks that are pro-life tend to vote for candidates that are also pro-life, and those folks who are pro-choice usually vote for candidates that share their view on this issue, but what are the life issues? Is believing that life starts at conception and that a human being in the womb is a cherished soul the only aspect of life in our country and in the world? This perception seems to be commonplace.

When we think of all the problems, struggles, concerns in the world, should we not extend the belief in the value of life to more than children inside the womb? Let’s break down different topics that are popular in our political arena that I would define as actual life issues:

The Environment

We hear in the news that there are many conservatives and republicans, but not all, who do not believe in climate change, nor have a strong sense of responsibility given to us by God to tend to the earth He has provided us. But I disagree. Do I believe that the Earth has cycles of hot and cold through its existence and will continue to? Yes. Do I believe that all of what happens on Earth is just Earth being Earth? No, I do not. There are actions we as humans take that contribute negatively to the health of our environment, such as polluting of soil, air, water, and destroying forests and habitats for the animals. Recycling much of our trash has helped lessen pollution and saves energy. The efforts for other forms of energy, such as wind and solar, as well as the creation of hybrid and electric cars, are admirable, but we are decades behind in this area.  The heated debate on GMOs and their pesticides is important to the health of animals and people. We have learned certain pesticides are killing off our bee population, which is detrimental to our food supply, as well as the pesticides that are contaminating our soil and ground water. These concerns are, indeed, life issues and matter greatly.

Capital Punishment

It has been said over the years that our country is based on Judeo-Christian values. Considering the law of an eye for an eye came from the Jewish tradition in the Old Testament, maybe this belief is true because our society/culture is a culture that is embedded in this idea of punishment having to be equal to the heinous act done by the perpetrator. Our country’s perspective and values are not of life, but of death. There is this viewpoint among many in our country that we just throw the person in jail and forget about him/her. How many times have we heard “lock them up and throw away the key” when it has to do with people who murder? They are no longer humans to many of us; hence, the death penalty is considered just and right. People who are suspected terrorists, whether foreign or U.S. citizens, are taken out by our government’s drone program with no arrest, no trial, nothing. We are a country that is for death, not life.

Endless, Unnecessary Wars

Creating wars for resources and arms deals are about death, not life. Toppling leaders in other countries destroys the lives of those people living in those countries, for which we have no regard for those people’s cultures because we are either arrogant and don’t care, or ignorant and don’t care to learn. This is also connected to the environment, where the destruction of towns and lands causes catastrophic effects on people’s ability to have access to clean water, food, and needed medical care. This is a life issue, and our leaders have chosen death.


The United States is the richest country in the world, but we have high numbers of people living in poverty. According to a study in 2014, 16 million children live in families whose incomes are considered below the poverty level the federal government has established. Lack of access to healthy, nutritional food and healthcare, the daily stresses of living without basic needs, struggling to pay bills, and facing violence in their neighborhoods, leads to shorter life spans. In an economy that takes the hard-earned wages of the middle class workers and gives them to the top 1% of the wealthiest people in the country, shows greed supersedes the value of a person’s well being and life. Since the billionaires are not putting the majority of their monies back into the economy and also sending their jobs overseas, very little growth or job creation happens. This growth happens through the middle class and their small businesses and spending money. We’ve truly become the epitome of Darwin’s belief of survival of the fittest.

The Value of a Person

The foundation of our culture is based on the killing of our young in the womb, that then progresses through difficult paths of climbing out of poverty for a good chunk of our society, environmental apathy, wars, locking up our young and adults who have done a criminal act, with little interest in their lives after they are behind bars, and in some cases, injecting them with poison, in a supposed gesture of humane treatment. The last years of our life cycle in America many times consists of discarding our elderly into nursing homes, in many cases because families struggle to afford the medical care needed to take care of their loved ones.  In some other cases, people see these elderly individuals are no longer a productive part of our society and have lost their identity as valued human beings.

How much respect and value do we have for life?  Shouldn’t we work to change this through pressing our government for improved programs, such as healthcare for all people and decent education for all people, and shouldn’t our government stop the outsourcing of American citizens’ jobs?  Shouldn’t we care for God’s creation?  Shouldn’t we care about LIFE?  We should ask ourselves these questions.