Most people have heard of the premise of this book, at least. A man turns into a bug pretty much sums up the entire plot.
We read this during school, so I had the pleasure of partially listening to it being read to me, which I admit, I may or may not have been listening the whole time. That being said, I enjoyed this novella much more than I thought I would. It was different and interesting.
We analyzed and over-analyzed this book, so my opinions may be skewed by the teacher’s and students’ perspectives.
I liked his writing style the most. It was dry and blunt and to the point. He wrote everything to get the point across, which leads me to believe that his transformation into a bug is not metaphorical like a lot of literary critics believe. I think his literal transformation signifies his mental and emotional feelings toward himself. Kafka writes with the intent to be clear and concise so there is no confusion, and his disgusting imagery just makes the bug transformation seem more realistic.
We discussed this thoroughly in class, and I decided Gregor Samsa, the man/bug, wasn’t just a senile man who thought of himself as a bug. I think his poor self-image catalyzed the transformation which was a physical interpretation of his mental outlook about himself.
In addition, the idea is captivating. As humans, we all image the “what if we weren’t human” scenario. Mostly, we probably think of something a bit more romantic than a giant cockroach, like a hawk or a dolphin or something exciting. Kafka took this natural curiosity and twisted it into something dark and unforgiving.
Honestly, none of the characters are likable, and it’s hard to create unlikable characters while writing a likable book. Usually it is important for me to like the characters, or I won’t relate or feel sympathetic towards the events of the book. But Kafka created realistically selfish and generally disagreeable characters, put them in a pitiful situation, and found a way for the reader to empathize with the fact that Gregor turned into a bug. Everyone had their own faults and problems, which was a refreshing change from the good guy/bad guy archetypes.
So, overall, if you must read this for school, or if you’re looking for a good classic to say you’ve read, this novella is a good choice. It’s simple to read with a clearly stated plot and descriptions while having an interesting concept pushing the story forward. Plus, it’s a novella.