The Metamorphosis

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Grete Samsa Character Analysis

Gregor's beloved 17-year-old sister. After the transformation, Grete takes care of Gregor, cleaning his room and bringing him food, at first with great kindness and attention, and then, after some months, quickly and carelessly. She takes on a job as a salesgirl to help support the family. Despite all her helpfulness to Gregor and his deep love of her, after the violin concert fiasco, she is the first to demand that he go.

Grete Samsa Quotes in The Metamorphosis

The The Metamorphosis quotes below are all either spoken by Grete Samsa or refer to Grete Samsa. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Mind vs. Body Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Schocken Books edition of The Metamorphosis published in 1995.
Section 2 Quotes

"What a quiet life our family has been leading," said Gregor to himself, and as he sat there motionless staring into the darkness he felt great pride in the fact that he had been able to provide such a life for his parents and sister in such a fine flat. But what if all the quiet, the comfort, the contentment were now to end in horror?

Related Characters: Gregor Samsa (speaker), Grete Samsa, Father, Mother
Page Number: 89
Explanation and Analysis:

Gregor, listening from his room, has realized that his father is not reading to Grete as usual, and his thoughts turn to the great disruption that his transformation has surely made in his family's daily life – perhaps the first time that he fully realizes how significant a change has taken place. Still, he continues to focus on the pride and self-confidence that he feels as an independent young man whose family burdens rest on his shoulders. They have long depended on him to lead the family, financially and otherwise, and he has happily taken on this duty, enabling them to live in peace.

However, now he begins to recognize that such peace and quiet may not last forever. Indeed, he himself might be the cause of his family's greatest destruction, even though that is not at all his intention. Once again, the phrasing of this passage's last line suggests that consequences might unfold without anyone consciously desiring or promoting them – instead, events will simply take place on their own, following the logic of physical reality rather than complex mental desires.

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If he could have spoken to her and thanked her for all she had to do for him, he could have borne her ministrations better; as it was, they oppressed him.

Related Characters: Gregor Samsa, Grete Samsa
Page Number: 98
Explanation and Analysis:

Gregor is used to being able to provide for Grete as for the rest of his family: he is used to this position and the dynamics that result from this relationship. Now, in addition to his physical metamorphosis, he must undergo a transformation regarding his and his family's expectations about their proper roles. In particular, here, Grete's dependence on Gregor has reversed such that Gregor is now dependent on his sister.

However, it is not merely that Gregor feels uncomfortable and ill at ease because of the way the family dynamics have shifted. In addition, he is unable to communicate with Grete, using the power of language to make her comfortable again, and to communicate how he feels to her. As she grows increasingly nervous around him, Gregor becomes correspondingly more frustrated, and the chance for true feelings of sympathy and understanding becomes ever more remote.

Section 3 Quotes

We must try to get rid of it. We've tried to look after it and to put up with it as far as is humanly possible, and I don't think anyone could reproach us in the slightest.

Related Characters: Grete Samsa (speaker), Gregor Samsa, Grete Samsa
Page Number: 124
Explanation and Analysis:

Gregor has ruined the family's concert, and now with the horrified lodgers moving out they find themselves in even more dire financial straits than before. This time it is Grete, not Gregor's father, who expresses the most extreme views regarding their responsibility towards Gregor – all the more striking, since she is the one to have taken on the care of him most thoughtfully over the past several months.

Nonetheless, the way Grete frames her argument does not really suggest that she thinks it is justifiable to abandon her brother Gregor. While she has referred to the insect as Gregor before, now she characterizes him as "it," as a foreign intruder in the household who can only be managed. He has been changed, and she no longer sees him as Gregor. Further, she argues that the family has met its social obligations to this "it," and that they wouldn't be acting in a way that could cause them social shame if they ceased to care for "it". 

Grete's quote raises the question of whether all of her care for Gregor was always little more than a sense of social obligation – something she did because she felt she had to in order to be socially acceptable rather than something she wanted to do out of love. More likely, though, it indicates the way that as a dreadful situation ceases to change even those who respond initially with love can grow weary and then find ways to justify their desire to escape from that weariness. It also indicates just how heartless "society" can be.

But how can it be Gregor? If this were Gregor, he would have realized long ago that human beings can't live with such a creature, and he'd have gone away on his own accord.

Related Characters: Grete Samsa (speaker), Gregor Samsa, Grete Samsa
Page Number: 125
Explanation and Analysis:

Here, Grete uses a peculiar kind of logic to justify why she believes that this creature is no longer Gregor – and since it is no longer her brother, all the bonds of care, love, and responsibility that ensure are broken. Her hypothetical statement suggests that if there were a thinking mind inside this creature, the insect never would have remained to bother them in the first place. As a result, she believes the family is justified in abandoning it.

Of course, at a different moment, Gregor could have used such feelings of resentment to justify abandoning his own family – also because they were so dependent on him and didn't think that their dependence might be a problem. But Gregor's repulsive physical state enables Grete to not have to grapple with such thoughts of equivalence, such that the family bonds can now begin to unravel. 

And it was like a confirmation of their new dreams and excellent intentions that at the end of their journey their daughter sprang to her feet first and stretched her young body.

Related Characters: Grete Samsa, Father, Mother
Page Number: 132
Explanation and Analysis:

Although much of the book has followed Gregor's point of view, The Metamorphosis ends not with Gregor's pitiful death but with the sense of freedom and possibility that the family embraces after he dies. As they travel into the countryside, the future seems to open up for them: no longer must they bear the terrible burden of their strange, transformed son.

While this passage paints a portrait of a happy family, we are meant to remember that this portrait depends on exclusion and suspicion more than it does on mutual respect and responsibility, seen most clearly in the way that Grete's lithe, young body contrasts sharply with the decaying, disgusting beetle that Gregor had become. At the same time, the book shows how both these physical realities end up affecting, if not determining, the possibilities for each of the siblings. Gregor's transformed body caused him to be eventually abandoned by his family. Grete's body leads her parents to see how she might be married off, and in being married off ensure financial security for the whole family. The parents continue to depend on (or, perhaps, exploit?) their children, relying on social norms and expectations to do so. 

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Grete Samsa Character Timeline in The Metamorphosis

The timeline below shows where the character Grete Samsa appears in The Metamorphosis. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Section 1
Mind vs. Body Theme Icon
Family Theme Icon
Sympathy, Dependence, Responsibility Theme Icon
...squeaky voice. Gregor's father begins to knock to ask what's wrong, and then his sister Grete asks him if he needs anything and tells him to open the door. Gregor is... (full context)
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...and feels that he should be given a break, especially in front of his family. Grete and Gregor's father tell Gregor that the clerk has arrived. Gregor hears his mother defending... (full context)
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Gregor refuses to open his door for the Chief Clerk, and Grete begins to cry. The clerk calls Gregor "incredibly obstinate" and explains that Gregor's job may... (full context)
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...that a human couldn't have made such noises. Gregor's mother begins to cry, along with Grete, and calls for a doctor. In all the hubbub, Gregor is calm and optimistic that... (full context)
Section 2
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Gregor notices that his father isn't reading to Grete, though it is a nighttime tradition. Gregor is concerned, but he thinks about how his... (full context)
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In the morning, Grete checks on Gregor, and is still shocked by his state. She notices the uneaten milk... (full context)
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Grete covertly feeds Gregor again in the afternoon, when their father, mother, and the servant girl... (full context)
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...then how they got used to it. Gregor also recalls how he'd hoped to support Grete's future studies in violin at the Conservatorium. Gregor's father decides that he must go back... (full context)
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...sleeping, and his eyesight worsens, so he can barely make out anything outside the window. Grete is both attentive to his desires (leaving the chair by the window for him to... (full context)
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A month after Gregor's transformation, Grete enters to find Gregor on the chair instead of under the couch as usual, and... (full context)
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Gregor's mother and father don't enter with Grete but they are curious about him. After two months, Gregor's mother wants to come in... (full context)
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Grete disagrees with Gregor's mother and they work to remove the chest. Gregor feels agitated by... (full context)
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Grete returns, sees Gregor on the wall, and attempts to get their mother from the room... (full context)
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Gregor's father returns. Grete calls from Gregor's bedroom that Gregor has escaped, and Gregor's father responds that he expected... (full context)
Section 3
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...dinner. The dinners tend to be quiet, as all three family members are now employed, Grete as a salesgirl and Gregor's mother at an underwear manufacturer. Gregor's father is constantly exhausted,... (full context)
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Gregor understands that the stresses on his family have made Grete, his mother and father less attentive to him. His family members spend all day working... (full context)
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...about these people. He sometimes is "filled with rage" because of his family's neglect and Grete's careless cleaning. He barely eats, but Grete doesn't seem to notice. Still, she wants to... (full context)
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...enjoys climbing around the junk. Gregor longingly notices the care with which his mother and Grete feed the lodgers, and the attention that his father lavishes upon them. (full context)
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One night, for the first time since the transformation as far as Gregor knows, Grete begins to play the violin. The lodgers ask her to come play for them in... (full context)
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Gregor wants to come closer so that he can indicate to Grete how much he loves her playing. He imagines that he could be useful to the... (full context)
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...and alert Gregor's father. At first, the lodgers are amused, but then they become concerned. Grete gives the violin to her mother and runs to make the lodgers' beds. Gregor's father... (full context)
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Grete announces that she wants to get rid of "this creature," whom she no longer thinks... (full context)
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Grete again asserts that the cockroach can't understand them and is no longer Gregor: "If this... (full context)
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...weakness. His family watches him go silently, but as soon as he enters his room, Grete shuts and locks the door behind him. In his room, Gregor can't move. He thinks... (full context)
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...him with a broom before realizing that he's died, then she calls to the family. Grete notes how thin Gregor had become. Grete, her mother and father go to the parents'... (full context)
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Grete, her mother and father all write to their bosses to take work off for the... (full context)
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Grete, her mother and father leave the house and take the tram to the countryside. They... (full context)