Anonymity, alienation, and suspension in Kafka's Metamorphosis
Upon his transformation, at the outset of The Metamorphosis, into a "monstrous vermin," Gregor Samsa asks himself a rather predictable question: "What's happened to me?" In response, the narrator tells us only that "it was no dream." Both Samsa's question and the narrator's response haunt the entire text-the question is never satisfactorily answered and the response itself is continually challenged as Kafka narrates a surreal sequence of events. It is noteworthy as well that Samsa asks ">himself the question and the narrator supplies a rejoinder. Embedded in this question are several: "Am I the same?" "How, exactly, have I been affected by this metamorphosis?" "Have I really changed or am I just dreaming?" "What has happened? "What kind of happening is this?" "How has this happened? The question, in itself, does not privilege either the subject of the happening, the "what" of the happening, the "how" of the happening, or the happening itself. Instead, all are placed in question, and the question is left suspended and remains suspended even after the story has ended.1
Full citation [Harvard style]:
Weiss, G. (1995)., Anonymity, alienation, and suspension in Kafka's Metamorphosis, in S. Crowell (ed.), The prism of the self, Dordrecht, Springer, pp. 221-230.
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