first draft of Essay #1

Robert Keit                                                                                                          Professor Dominique Zino

English 162W:Liturature and Place                                                                February 27,2010

Concepts of place and space shape the narrative-point-of-view in The Metamorphosis, by Franz Kafka. The ideas of spatial freedom in the chapter Spaciousness and Crowing in Space and Place The Perspective of Experience by Yi-Fun Tuan play and important part in the story (Tuan 51).By following the deterioration of the freedom of movement of the protagonist of The Metamorphosis, Gregor Samsa, the reader will be able to understand these concepts of spatial freedom.

The Metamorphosis is told in third-person narrative which tells the story of Gregor Samsa and his life after turning into an insect. Third-person narrative allows the reader to view the entire story unfold. First-person narrative is also in play, to help illustrate the thoughts and feelings of Gregor. In Gregor’s family, he was originally the family member who brought home money. He worked as a traveling salesman and rarely was able to partake in the activities that he wished to do.

Narrative point-of-view comes into play when Gregor’s father loses his temper with his son( Kafka 310).The father uses a cane to beat Gregor back to Gregor’s room, “His father, hissing like a savage, mercilessly drove him back. But Gregor had no practice in walking backwards; it was a very slow process”. This quote is also able to illustrate Tuans ideas about how a limited range of movement is related to the decrease in freedom, “An old person moves about with increasing difficulty. Space seems to close in on him” (Tuan 52).Because Gregor is having difficulty moving, let alone moving backwards, he has no choice but to allow his father to impose his will on him.

Third-person narrative is able to illustrate the  development of Gregor’s family while he is locked in his room. Third person narrative shows what his family is doing and how they are reacting to his current situation. A first-person narrative would be very limited just focusing on Gregor’s Point-of-view within the confines of his room. To help create an income, Gregor’s family rented out rooms in their house. To store the families stuff to make room for tenants, they store it in Gregor’s room. Soon, his room becomes a waste disposal (Kafka 324).All of his original procession are taken from and he becomes ‘below’ the rest of his family. To show how his family doesn’t even consider him a member of the family any more, they hide Gregor’s presence from the tenants almost as if they are ashamed of his existence.

To show how Gregor’s family is trying to forget his existence by locking him in his room alone, his mother tells her daughter, Grete , “ ‘Close that door, Grete’, so that Gregor was back in the dark, while in the next room, the women wept together or simply stared at the table with dry eyes”(Kafka 323).Tuan mentions that being confided in a limited space is another aspect of the limits of movement reflected in the limit of freedom, “An infant is unfree, and so are prisoners and the bedridden. They cannot, or have lost their ability to, move freely; they live in constricted spaces” (Tuan 52). This quote is able to exactly describe Gregor’s entire situation and how it is making his life miserable and slowly killing him.

In a narration of Gregor’s passing, which describes his mental and physical state, is done in third person, as well as in first person. “It was true that his entire body ached, but the pain seemed to him to be growing fainter and fainter and soon would go away altogether…He recalled his family with deep emotion and love”(Kafka 329).This quote can also be related to Tuans quote on imprisonment. In the third-person narrative, the reader is able to go inside Gregor’s mind as he thinks of how his life played out in the time he was an insect up to his final breath.

The Metamorphosis does not end with Gregor’s death. Instead, the story narrates the life of family after he dies and develops their characters. Third-person narrative  allows the reader to understand the broader perspective of the rest of the family and how they cope with Gregor’s death, which they become very successful and happy, “Leaning comfortably back in their seats they discussed their prospects for the future, which on closer inspection seemed to be not so bad, since all three of them had jobs” (Kafka 331). This quote is ironic that originally, Gregor was the only family member who had a job and during the episode of him as an insect, the family’s freedom was limited along with his as they tried to cope with his existence, which they tried hard to ignore. His death was like a burden lifted from them, allowing them to become free due Gregor’s death.


Kafka,Franz The Metamorphosis, in  An Introduction to Fiction; Kennedy,X.J,and Gioia, Dana, editors. Pearson United States 2010

Tuan,Yi-Fu Space and Place:The Perspective of Experience; Minneapolis, The University of Minnesota Press,1977

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The Metamorphosis

The long story “The Metamorphosis” by Franz Kafka and the chapter “Spaciousness and Crowding” by Yi-Fu Tuan both deal with the freedoms one gains by the range of movement they are able to achieve. By having a limited range of movement for reasons such and physical or developmental, one may not be to achieve the full potential of freedoms that are available to them. “Spaciousness and Crowding” explains the different ways the freedom of range can be both expressed and limited, such as by piloting aircrafts or by being and infant, respectively. The long story “The Metamorphosis” follows a man as he suddenly looses all his freedoms of range he once enjoyed.

In “The Metamorphosis”, the protagonist, Gregor Samsa, was a salesman. He was the family’s source of income because no one else in the family had a job. He wakes up and relies he turned into a large insect. He has trouble moving and breaks one of his many legs trying to roll his body right-side up. He struggles doing basic thing such as eating, walking and talking. He drools brown liquids from what use to be his mouth and his wings knock over furniture. His family becomes fed-up with him, except for his sister. She tries to comfort him by feeding him and helping him when he struggles to move his large, grotesque body. Samsa’s parents start to take away his furniture from his room and he becomes depressed and sick. His mother makes fun of him, saying “Just look at that old dung beetle”(pg 324), much to his annoyance. He becomes a prisoner in his own room, where he eventually dies.

The example of Samsa’s situation shows the deterioration of movement and the lost of freedom. This is a good example of what Tuan is trying to explain in the chapter because it highlights the life that Samsa once enjoyed by his new lack of range caused destroyed his quality of life and led to the excommunication of his family and eventually his death.

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House on Mango Street

The excerpt from the “House on Mango Street”, by Sandra Cisneros tells a brief background story of the narrator. She has moved many times in her life to several run-down and shabby apartment buildings. She is part of large family and each time they move, it seems that a new family member comes to live with them. In one experience she had with a nun: “Where do you live she asked. There I said pointing up to the third floor. You live there?” This causes the narrator to really be ashamed of her home and wants to move to a real house that her parents own. When the narrator’s family does move, it is not like what she imagined. As she describes it: “It’s small and red with tight steps in front and windows so small you’d think they were holding their breath. Bricks are crumbling in places, and the front door is so swollen you have to push hard to get in…”

                In “Space and Place” by Yi-Fu Tuan, the chapter “Space, Place, and the Child” describes the different stages in a child’s life and how they experience space and place as they mature. He mentions that as children get older, they forget their early experiences. As a  child goes to new places and sees new things, their experiences  help to shape the child’s perspective and space, starting as a baby with the child’s mother and growing up to be a mobile child. This is similar to the narrator’s experiences in “House on Mango Street”. It is unknown how old the narrator is but she has been through a lot and she chooses to only remember the negative experiences. The many times she moved has diminished her expectations and when she finally moved into  a new home; rather than  feeling  proud, she is again met the reality of another run-down home.

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