Generational Conflict and Adult Decision-Making Term Paper

  • Length: 6 pages
  • Sources: 3
  • Subject: Literature
  • Type: Term Paper
  • Paper: #93779374

Excerpt from Term Paper :



Distinctly from John Updike's teenage character Sammy in his short story "A&P," who realizes he has just become an adult; Connie as suddenly realizes she feels like a kid again. Now she wishes the family she usually hates having around could protect her. The actions of the fearsome Arnold, are foreshadowed early on, when he warns Connie, the night before, after first noticing her outside a drive-in restaurant: "Gonna get you, baby" (paragraph 7). From then on, Arnold's quest to "get" Connie feels, to Connie and the reader, in its dangerous intensity, much like the predatory evilness of malevolent fairy tale characters, e.g., the Big Bad Wolf, or the evil stepmothers (and/or stepsisters) that fix on Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella, and other innocent young female characters as prey. And Connie at the end of "Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been" wishes, like Little Red Riding Hood, Snow White, Cinderella and others, to be rescued in the nick of time from evil; rather than be forced to succumb to it.

Essay 3: Whose Metamorphosis?

Once upon a time, according to Franz Kafka, in perhaps his greatest work the short story "The Metamorphosis," a dull-but-diligent; fastidious-to-a-fault Czech bureaucrat named Gregor Samsa becomes a huge black bug, overnight:

Gregor Samsa... discovered that in bed he had been changed into a monstrous verminous bug. He lay [sic] on his armour-hard back and saw... his brown, arched abdomen divided up into rigid bow-like sections... The blanket, just about ready to slide off completely, could hardly stay in place. His numerous legs, pitifully thin...

A flickered helplessly before his eyes. (Part I, paragraph 1)

The real problem, Gregor's lazy family soon realizes, is not that Gregor is a bug; but that Mama, Papa and sister (Grete), might actually have to work! One bad day, Papa throws apples at Gregor because he is still a bug; and Papa kills him. Alas, Mama, Papa, Grete must go earnestly to work, forever. They (eventually) trudge sadly out of their long lived-in cocoon (apartment) and board a train together. Emerging from a long tunnel of psychological gloominess into amazingly bright sunlight, liked just-metamorphosed butterflies; Papa, Mama, and Grete feel pretty good about life, to their enormous surprise. They have undergone their own metamorphosis; Kafka implicitly suggests; albeit more slowly than had Gregor; but in the end, one much better. And they live (and they even work!) happily ever after.

But much else actually happens (according to Kafka) before Mama, Papa, and Grete can finally manage to emerge from their gloom into today's bright sunny happiness. First and most importantly, they must grow used to Gregor's unemployed status (and so, with even more difficulty and much guilt, must Gregor himself). They start thinking about how awful it would be if Gregor should lose his job that very morning! Gregor's manager from work comes to their apartment because Gregor is running late (which is rare indeed) and shouts through Gregor's bedroom door, as Gregor still rolls around on his brand new shiny black back unable to dress as usual: ".. A time of year for conducting no business, there is no such thing at all, Mr. Samsa, and such a thing must never be [emphasis added]" (paragraph 10).

As Kafka tells us, Gregor feels awful about letting his family down, and so suddenly. Soon, though, Gregor is not the only one to change. After awhile, for instance:

his sister had to team up with his mother to do the cooking, although... people were eating almost nothing... Gregor listened as one... vainly invited another to eat and received... Thank you. I've had enough"... (Part II, paragraph 1)

They were doing with much less. Moreover, one day:

his father laid out all the financial circumstances and prospects... In spite [sic] all [the] bad luck, a fortune... A very small one, was available... The interest...

I had in the intervening time gradually allowed to increase a little. Furthermore...

A the money which Gregor had brought home every month -- he had kept only a few florins for himself -- had not been completely spent and had grown into a small capital amount. (Part II, paragraph 13)

Ugh!" Gregor may then very well have told his bedroom wall (or whatever else was nearby) right then, once he had overheard all this. All this time Gregor has long believed Mama, Papa and Grete will perish if I do not work as a traveling salesman, but this has not been true! "I'd have quit ages ago" (Part I, paragraph 3) he remembers thinking that very first metamorphic morning. Not long afterward, though, Gregor, a mere insect of the man he once was, despite his never having really lived at all, for himself, dies so Mama, Papa, and Grete may be reborn. Kafka perhaps hints here, very implicitly, that that is in fact the only condition of possibility for his family's positive metamorphosis from within its self-built cocoon. But the price of his family's new chance at life, for Gregor himself, is steep indeed - as it has almost always been.

Works Cited

Kafka, Franz. "The Metamorphosis." E-text. 28 May 2007 http://www.mala.bc.ca/Johnstoi/stories/kafka-E.htm

Oates, Joyce Carol. "Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?" Celestial Time

Piece: A Joyce Carol Oates Home Page. 28 May 2007 http://jco.usfca.edu / works / wgoing/text.html>

Updike, John. "A&P." Tigertown.com. 28 May 2007 http://www.tigertown.com/whatnot/updike/html

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