The Metamorphosis

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Mother Character Analysis

Gregor's mother, like Gregor's father, is elderly and sick (she has asthma), but she also returns to work, as an underwear seamstress, when he transforms. Her attitude towards Gregor is both horrified and loving: she faints when she first sees him, and later has an asthma attack after Grete's violin concert, but also she wants to help tidy and clean Gregor's room, and when his father attacks Gregor with apples, she pleads for Gregor's life.

Mother Quotes in The Metamorphosis

The The Metamorphosis quotes below are all either spoken by Mother or refer to Mother. 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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Do let me in to Gregor, he is my unfortunate son! Can't you understand that I must go to him?

Related Characters: Mother (speaker), Gregor Samsa
Page Number: 100
Explanation and Analysis:

Grete has been taking care of Gregor during the past two months. Finally, Gregor's mother wants to come in and see him. Here, she seems to reclaim her role as his mother, even though he has changed beyond all recognition, and even though she has not exactly been playing the role of the devoted mother in recent weeks. Nevertheless, this passage suggests that one way his mother seeks to understand what has happened is within the framework of a family tragedy – an "unfortunate" event that happened to her beloved son, whom she now must look after. Even though the reality of the situation makes such cries seem senseless or silly, Mother, along with other characters in the story, can only rely on existing codes of family behavior in order to seek to understand this new reality.

Section 3 Quotes

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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Mother Character Timeline in The Metamorphosis

The timeline below shows where the character Mother 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
Gregor's mother knocks to wake him, and Gregor thanks her in a strangely squeaky voice. Gregor's father... (full context)
Family Theme Icon
Money Theme Icon
Intentions vs. Outcomes Theme Icon
Sympathy, Dependence, Responsibility Theme Icon
...family. Grete and Gregor's father tell Gregor that the clerk has arrived. Gregor hears his mother defending him to the clerk, saying that Gregor is always dutiful and singularly focused on... (full context)
Mind vs. Body Theme Icon
Intentions vs. Outcomes Theme Icon
...doesn't understand Gregor's speech, and exclaims 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,... (full context)
Mind vs. Body Theme Icon
Intentions vs. Outcomes Theme Icon
Gregor finally gets the door open, shocking the Chief Clerk, his father and mother. His father weeps. Gregor stays halfway in his room, noticing the rainy weather, the breakfast... (full context)
Mind vs. Body Theme Icon
Family Theme Icon
Intentions vs. Outcomes Theme Icon
...many legs, which he finds much more comfortable. Gregor underestimates the alarm he's causing his mother and the clerk, only noticing that his mother has spilled the coffee and that the... (full context)
Section 2
Mind vs. Body Theme Icon
Family Theme Icon
Sympathy, Dependence, Responsibility Theme Icon
Grete covertly feeds Gregor again in the afternoon, when their father, mother, and the servant girl won't notice. Gregor isn't sure why his family didn't ever bring... (full context)
Family Theme Icon
Money Theme Icon
Sympathy, Dependence, Responsibility Theme Icon
...father decides that he must go back to work, as old as he is. Gregor's mother seems too old and unhealthy, and Grete is only 17. Gregor feels "shame and grief"... (full context)
Mind vs. Body Theme Icon
Family Theme Icon
Intentions vs. Outcomes Theme Icon
Gregor's mother and father don't enter with Grete but they are curious about him. After two months,... (full context)
Mind vs. Body Theme Icon
Family Theme Icon
Sympathy, Dependence, Responsibility Theme Icon
Grete disagrees with Gregor's mother and they work to remove the chest. Gregor feels agitated by all the movement in... (full context)
Mind vs. Body Theme Icon
Family Theme Icon
Intentions vs. Outcomes Theme Icon
Sympathy, Dependence, Responsibility Theme Icon
Grete returns, sees Gregor on the wall, and attempts to get their mother from the room without her noticing. However, Gregor's mother looks up, screams, and faints. Grete... (full context)
Mind vs. Body Theme Icon
Family Theme Icon
Intentions vs. Outcomes Theme Icon
Sympathy, Dependence, Responsibility Theme Icon
...back and gets embedded, causing Gregor massive pain. Gregor notices, as he passes out, his mother running out of his room, half-undressed because of her fainting fit earlier, and begging Gregor's... (full context)
Section 3
Mind vs. Body Theme Icon
Family Theme Icon
Money Theme Icon
Sympathy, Dependence, Responsibility Theme Icon
...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, won't even remove his increasingly dirty... (full context)
Family Theme Icon
Money Theme Icon
Sympathy, Dependence, Responsibility Theme Icon
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 for other... (full context)
Mind vs. Body Theme Icon
Family Theme Icon
Money Theme Icon
Sympathy, Dependence, Responsibility Theme Icon
...wants to be the only one to take care of Gregor, and fights with their mother for sometimes trying to help him. (full context)
Family Theme Icon
Money Theme Icon
Sympathy, Dependence, Responsibility Theme Icon
...though he 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)
Family Theme Icon
...violin. The lodgers ask her to come play for them in the living room. Gregor's mother and father awkwardly and formally come to watch as well. (full context)
Money Theme Icon
Intentions vs. Outcomes Theme Icon
...the family, and that he might sue. The other lodgers follow suit. Gregor's father and mother are extremely upset, and Gregor's mother drops the violin. Gregor stays still on the floor. (full context)
Family Theme Icon
Sympathy, Dependence, Responsibility Theme Icon
...then she calls to the family. Grete notes how thin Gregor had become. Grete, her mother and father go to the parents' room. (full context)
Family Theme Icon
Sympathy, Dependence, Responsibility Theme Icon
Grete, her mother and father all write to their bosses to take work off for the day. The... (full context)
Mind vs. Body Theme Icon
Family Theme Icon
Sympathy, Dependence, Responsibility Theme Icon
Grete, her mother and father leave the house and take the tram to the countryside. They talk optimistically... (full context)