"Mr. Samsa!" cried the middle lodger, to Gregor's father, and point
ed, without wasting any more words, at Gregor, now working himself slowly forwards. The violin fell silent, the middle lodger first smiled to his friends with a shake of the head and then looked at Gregor again. Instead of driving Gregor out, his father seemed to think it more needful to begin by soothing down the lodgers, although they were not at all agitated and apparently found Gregor more entertaining than the violin-playing. He hurried towards them and, spreading out his arms, tried to urge them back into their own room and at the same time to block
of Gregor. They now began to be really a little angry, one could not tell whether because of the old man's behavior or because it had just dawned on them that all unwitting
ly they had such a neighbor as Gregor next door. They demanded explanations of his father, they waved their arms like him, tugged uneasily at their beards, and only with reluctance backed towards their room. Meanwhile Gregor's sister, who stood there as if lost when her playing was so abrupt
ly broken off, came to life again, pulled herself together all at once after standing for a while holding violin and bow in nerveless
ly hanging hands and staring at her music, pushed her violin into the lap of her mother, who was still sitting in her chair fighting asthmatically for breath, and ran into the lodgers' room to which they were now being shepherd
ed by her father rather more quickly than before. One could see the pillows and blankets on the beds flying under her accustomed fingers and being laid in order
. Before the lodgers had actually reached their room she had finished making the beds and slipped out.
The old man seemed once more to be so possessed
by his mulish self-assertive
ness that he was forgetting all, the respect he should show to his lodgers. He kept driving them on and driving them on until in the very door of the bedroom the middle lodger stamped his foot loudly on the floor and so brought him to a halt
. "I beg to announce," said the lodger, lifting one hand and looking also at Gregor's mother and sister, "that because of the disgusting
ing in this household and family"- here he spat on the floor with emphatic brevity
- "I give you notice on the spot. Naturally I won't pay you a penny for the days I have lived here, on the contrary I shall consider bringing an action for damages
against you, based on claims - believe me - that will be easily susceptible
of proof." He cease
d and stared straight in front of him, as if he expected something. In fact his two friends at once rushed into the breach
with these words: "And we too give notice on the spot." On that he seized the door handle and shut the door with a slam.
Gregor's father, groping with his hands, staggered forward and fell into his chair; it looked as if he were stretching himself there for his ordinary evening nap, but the marked jerkings of his head, which was as if uncontrollable
, showed that he was far from asleep. Gregor had simply stayed quietly all the time on the spot where the lodgers had espied
him. Disappointment at the failure of his plan, perhaps also the weakness arising from extreme hunger, made it impossible for him to move. He feared, with a fair degree of certainty, that at any moment the general tension
itself in a combined attack upon him, and he lay waiting. He did not react even to the noise made by the violin as it fell off his mother's lap from under her trembling fingers and gave out a resonant
"My dear parents," said his sister, slapping her hand on the table by way of introduction, "things can't go on like this. Perhaps you don't realize that, but I do. I won't utter my brother's name in the presence of this creature, and so all I say is: 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."
"She is more than right," said Gregor's father to himself. His mother, who was still choking for lack of breath, began to cough hollowly into her hand with a wild look in her eyes.
His sister rushed over to her and held her forehead. His father's thoughts seemed to have lost their vagueness at Grete's words, he sat more upright, fingering his service cap that lay among the plates still lying on the table from the lodgers' supper, and from time to time looked at the still form
"We must try to get rid of it," his sister now said explicit
ly to her father, since her mother was coughing too much to hear a word, "it will be the death of both of you, I can see that coming. When one has to work as hard as we do, all of us, one can't stand this continual torment
at home on top of it. At least I can't stand it any longer." And she burst into such a passion of sobbing that her tears dropped on her mother's face, where she wiped them off mechanically.
"My dear," said the old man sympathetically, and with evident
understanding, "but what can we do?"
Gregor's sister merely shrug
ged her shoulders to indicate the feeling of helplessness that had now overmastered her during her weeping fit, in contrast to her former confidence.
"If he could understand us," said her father, half questioningly; Grete, still sobbing, vehemently waved a hand to show how unthinkable
"If he could understand
us," repeated the old man, shutting his eyes to consider his daughter's conviction
that understanding was impossible
, "then perhaps we might come to some agreement
with him. But as it is-"
"He must go," cried Gregor's sister, "that's the only solution, Father. You must just try to get rid of the idea that this is Gregor. The fact that we've believed it for so long is the root of all our trouble. 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
. Then we wouldn't have any brother, but we'd be able to go on living and keep his memory in honor. As it is, this creature persecute
s us, drives away our lodgers, obviously wants the whole apartment to himself and would have us all sleep in the gutter
. Just look, Father," she shriek
ed all at once, "he's at it again!" And in an access of panic that was quite incomprehensible
to Gregor she even quitted her mother, literally thrusting the chair from her as if she would rather sacrifice her mother than stay so near to Gregor, and rushed behind her father, who also rose up, being simply upset by her agitation, and half-spread his arms out as if to protect her.
Yet Gregor had not the slightest intention
of frightening anyone, far less his sister. He had only begun to turn round in order to crawl back to his room, but it was certainly a startling operation
to watch, since because of his disabled condition he could not execute the difficult turning movements except by lifting his head and then bracing it against the floor over and over again. He paused and looked round. His good intentions seemed to have been recognized; the alarm had only been momentary
. Now they were all watching' him in melancholy
silence. His mother lay in her chair, her legs stiffly outstretched and pressed together, her eyes almost closing for sheer
weariness; his father and his sister were sitting beside each other, his sister's arm around the old man's neck.
Perhaps I can go on turning round now, thought Gregor, and began his labor
s again. He could not stop himself from panting with the effort, and had to pause now and then to take breath. Nor did anyone harass
him, he was left entirely to himself. When he had completed the turn-round he began at once to crawl straight back. He was amazed at the distance separating him from his room and could not understand how in his weak state he had managed to accomplish the same journey so recently, almost without remarking it. Intent on crawling as fast as possible, he barely noticed that not a single word
, not an ejaculation from his family, interfered with his progress. Only when he was already in the doorway did he turn his head round, not completely, for his neck muscles were getting stiff, but enough to see that nothing had changed behind him except that his sister had risen to her feet. His last glance fell on his mother, who was not quite overcome
Hardly was he well inside his room when the door was hastily pushed shut, bolted and locked. The sudden noise in his rear startled him so much that his little legs gave beneath him. It was his sister who had shown such haste. She had been standing ready waiting and had made a light spring forward, Gregor had not even heard her coming, and she cried "At last!" to her parents as she turned the key in the lock.
"And what now?" said Gregor to himself, looking round in the darkness. Soon he made the discovery
that he was now unable to stir a limb. This did not surprise him, rather it seemed unnatural
that he should ever actually have been able to move on these feeble little legs. Otherwise he felt relatively comfortable. True, his whole body was aching, but it seemed that the pain was gradually growing less and would finally pass away
. The rot
ting apple in his back and the inflamed
area around it, all covered with soft dust, already hardly troubled him. He thought of his family
. The decision that he must disappear
was one that he held to even more strongly than his sister, if that were possible. In this state of vacant
and peaceful meditation he remained until the tower clock struck three in the morning. The first broadening of light in the world outside the window entered his consciousness once more. Then his head sank to the floor of its own accord and from his nostrils came the last faint flicker of his breath.
When the charwoman arrived early in the morning - what between her strength and her impatience
she slammed all the doors so loudly, never mind how often she had been begged not to do so, that no one in the whole apartment could enjoy any quiet sleep after her arrival
- she noticed nothing unusual as she took her customary
peep into Gregor's room. She thought he was lying motionless on purpose, pretending to be in the sulk
s; she credit
ed him with every kind of intelligence
. Since she happened to have the long-handled broom in her hand she tried to tickle him up with it from the doorway. When that too produced no reaction she felt provoke
d and poke
d at him a little harder, and only when she had pushed him along the floor without meeting any resistance was her attention aroused. It did not take her long to establish
the truth of the matter, and her eyes widened, she let out a whistle, yet did not waste much time over it but tore open the door of the Samsas' bedroom and yelled into the darkness at the top of her voice: "Just look at this, it's dead
; it's lying here dead and done for
Mr. and Mrs. Samsa started up in their double bed
and before they realized the nature of the charwoman's announcement
had some difficulty in overcoming the shock
of it. But then they got out of bed quickly, one on either side, Mr. Samsa throwing a blanket over his shoulders, Mrs. Samsa in nothing but her nightgown
; in this array
they entered Gregor's room. Meanwhile the door of the living room opened, too, where Grete had been sleeping since the advent
of the lodgers; she was completely dressed as if she had not been to bed, which seemed to be confirmed also by the paleness of her face. "Dead? " said Mrs. Samsa, looking questioningly at the charwoman, although she could have investigated for herself, and the fact was obvious enough without investigation
"I should say so," said the charwoman, proving her words by pushing Gregor's corpse
a long way to one side with her broomstick
. Mrs. Samsa made a movement as if to stop her, but checked it.
"Well," said Mr. Samsa, "now thanks be to God." He cross
ed himself, and the three women followed his example
. Grete, whose eyes never left the corpse, said: "Just see how thin he was. It's such a long time since he's eaten anything. The food came out again just as it went in." Indeed, Gregor's body was completely flat and dry, as could only now be seen when it was no longer supported by the legs and nothing prevented one from looking closely
"Come in beside us, Grete, for a little while," said Mrs. Samsa with a tremulous
smile, and Grete, not without looking back at the corpse, followed her parents into their bedroom. The charwoman shut the door and opened the window wide. Although it was so early in the morning a certain softness was perceptible
in the fresh air. After all, it was already the end of March.
The three lodgers emerged from their room and were surprised to see no breakfast
; they had been forgotten. "Where's our breakfast?" said the middle lodger peevish
ly to the charwoman. But she put her finger to her lips and hastily, without a word, indicate
d by gesture
s that they should go into Gregor's room. They did so and stood, their hands in the pockets of their somewhat shabby coats, around Gregor's corpse in the room where it was now fully light.
At that the door of the Samsas' bedroom opened and Mr. Samsa appeared in his uniform, his wife on one arm, his daughter on the other. They all looked a little as if they had been crying; from time to time Grete hid her face on her father's arm.
"Leave my house at once!" said Mr. Samsa, and pointed to the door without disengaging himself from the women.
"What do you mean by that?" said the middle lodger, taken somewhat aback, with a feeble
smile. The two others put their hands behind them and kept rubbing them together, as if in gleeful expectation
of a fine set - to in which they were bound to come off the winners.
"I mean just what I say," answered Mr. Samsa, and advanced in a straight line with his two companions towards the lodger. He stood his ground at first quietly, looking at the floor as if his thoughts were taking a new pattern
in his head.
"Then let us go, by all means," he said, and looked up at Mr. Samsa as if in a sudden access of humility
he were expecting some renewed sanction
for this decision. Mr. Samsa merely nodded briefly once or twice with meaning eyes. Upon that the lodger really did go with long stride
s into the hall, his two friends had been listening and had quite stopped rubbing their hands for some moments and now went scuttling after him as if afraid that Mr. Samsa might get into the hall before them and cut them off from their leader. In the hall they all three took their hats from the rack, their sticks from the umbrella stand
, bowed in silence and quitted the apartment. With a suspiciousness which proved quite unfounded Mr. Samsa and the two women followed them out to the landing; leaning over the banister they watched the three figures slowly but surely going down the long stairs, vanishing from sight
at a certain turn of the staircase on every floor and coming into view again after a moment or so; the more they dwindle
d, the more the Samsa family's interest in them dwindled, and when a butcher's boy met them and passed them on the stairs coming up proudly with a tray on his head, Mr. Samsa and the two women soon left the landing and as if a burden
had been lifted from them went back into their apartment.
They decided to spend this day in resting and going for a stroll
; they had not only deserved such a respite
from work, but absolute
ed it. And so they sat down at the table and wrote three notes of excuse, Mr. Samsa to his board of management
, Mrs. Samas to her employer and Grete to the head of her firm. While they were writing, the charwoman came in to say that she was going now, since her morning's work was finished. At first they only nodded without looking up, but as she kept hover
ing there they eyed her irritably. "Well?" said Mr. Samsa The charwoman stood grinning in the doorway as if she had good news to impart
to the family but meant not to say a word unless properly questioned. The small ostrich
feather standing upright on her hat, which had annoyed Mr. Samsa ever since she was engaged, was waving gaily in all directions. "Well, what is it then?" asked Mrs. Samsa, who obtained more respect from the charwoman than the others.
"Oh," said the charwoman, giggling so amiably that she could not at once continue, "just this, you don't need to bother about how to get rid of the thing next door. It's been seen to already." Mrs. Samsa and Grete bent over their letters again, as if preoccupied; Mr. Samsa, who perceived that she was eager to begin describing it all in detail, stopped her with a decisive hand. But since she was not allowed to tell her story, she remembered the great hurry she was in, being obviously deeply huff
ed: "Bye, everybody," she said, whirl
ing off violently, and departed with a frightful slamming of doors.
"She'll be given notice tonight," said Mr. Samsa, but neither from his wife nor his daughter did he get any answer, for the charwoman seemed to have shatter
ed again the composure they had barely achieved. They rose, went to the window and stayed there, clasp
ing each other tight. Mr. Samsa turned in his chair to look at them and quietly observed them for a little. Then he called out: "Come along, now, do. Let bygones be bygones
. And you might have some consideration
for me." The two of them complied at once, hastened to him, caressed him and quickly finished their letters.
Then they all three left the apartment together, which was more than they had done for months, and went by tram into the open country outside the town. The tram, in which they were the only passengers, was filled with warm sunshine. Leaning comfortably back in their seats they canvas
sed their prospects for the future, and it appeared on closer inspection that these were not at all bad, for the jobs they had got, which so far they had never really discussed with each other, were all three admirable and likely to lead to better things later on. The greatest immediate improvement
in their condition would of course arise from moving to another house
; they wanted to take a smaller and cheaper but also better situated and more easily run apartment
than the one they had, which Gregor had selected. While they were thus conversing, it struck both Mr. and Mrs. Samsa, almost at the same moment, as they became aware of their daughter's increasing vivacity
, that in spite of all the sorrow
of recent times, which had made her cheeks pale, she had bloomed into a pretty girl with a good figure
. They grew quieter and half unconscious
ly exchanged glances of complete agreement, having come to the conclusion that it would soon be time to find a good husband
for her. 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.