Franz manifestation of social isolation and separation. Franz Kafka

Franz Kafka is a German novelist and short-story writer, who is renowned for his pieces regarding the manifestation of social isolation and separation. Franz Kafka draws parallels between his own upbringing and his literary works to demonstrate his viewpoint that financial stability supersedes the importance of everything else, and thus, one’s familial role and value is directly determined by their ability to earn money. When one is unable to provide labor or money, they become expendable to their employer, society, and even their family. Franz Kafka grew up in a middle class family in Czechoslovakia. Being part of the Jewish community and being German-speaking made him the minority within a minority. (Encyclopedia of World Biography) In addition to these factors, he was raised during the oppressive time of the Holocaust, developing Franz Kafka’s proletariat characteristics. He was in a situation where he was subjected to torment and harassment, yet he could not rebel as it would be detrimental to his survival. This reflects the struggle between the proletariat and the bourgeois because the proletariats were never able to rise up against the instilled system they lived in. The Kafka home was struck by tragedy, as Franz’s brothers died at a young age, leaving Franz to be the only son that could provide for everyone else in the family. (Biography.com) Kafka had a difficult relationship with both his parents. His father, a successful businessman, was domineering, strict, and had a forceful parenting style. While his mother was a compassionate and devoted housewife, she lacked any intellectual depth and could not understand Kafka’s dreams to become a writer. At the beginning of Kafka’s career, he opted for a tedious and ordinary 9-to-5 job, as it would be better to provide for his family and it would be a job that they would approve of. Much of Kafka’s value was directly determined by his value to the family and his family’s opinion of him.         In Kafka’s novel, The Metamorphosis, the Marxist criticism can clearly be seen through the class struggle between the proletarians and the bourgeois and its effects on the social aspects of the main character’s life. The protagonist, Gregor, is a proletariat who is struggling to break free from a cycle of exploitation. His daily routine of being a traveling salesman is not the least bit enjoyable, yet he must do this labor in order to support his family and pay off his father’s debt. In general, proletarians in the Marxist society have no means to produce work of their and therefore, they must work for others and live paycheck-to-paycheck. Kafka depicts Gregor’s manager as the bourgeois who “sits on the desk and talks down from the heights to the employees”(Kafka). The description of the manager shows the impersonal connection between the workers and higher-ups and portrays the difference between them as too large to be closed. He reprimands Gregor for not coming to work on time even though he has been punctual every day in the past years. It shows that Gregor’s manager has nothing better to do than travel all the way down and personally scold his workers. When seen from a Marxist lens, Kafka may be implying that the bourgeois have time on their hands, but the proletarians are the laborers that work hard, only for the upper class to reap the benefits. The manager fleeing from the house is an appropriate response to seeing his worker now turned into a bug. However, from a Marxist interpretation, this could mean that the manager quickly dismisses Gregor now that he is of no use to him.The main character’s metaphorical and literal transformation serves to show how money is the key aspect that determines one’s value in a Marxist society. The short story begins as Gregor wakes up one morning and realizes that he is no longer human, but an insect with an armor-like body and many legs. His state renders him unable to work and he becomes isolated from his family, as they are disgusted by his appearance. Soon after, as a means to make money, the family takes in boarders and start collecting rent. One day, Gregor’s sister is performing for the boarders and Gregor sneaks out to watch, but the boarders run away, completely terrified after seeing him. His family has a discussion stating that if Gregor had any humanity left, he would stop being such as burden to them. Gregor goes back to his room and quietly dies. Gregor’s transformation leaves him unable to work and thus his role in the family changes from a provider to a dependant. The Marxist lens comes into play when Gregor’s metamorphosis into an insect leads everyone in his life to abandon him, showing that without any money or labor to offer, the person becomes expendable.