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The main character's relationship with others in Albert Camus 'The Outsider' and Franz Kafka's 'The Metamorphosis'.

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Introduction

English IB Ranjit Amar March 2003 Grade 11 The main character's relationship with others in Albert Camus 'The Outsider' and Franz Kafka's 'The Metamorphosis' Franz Kafka's 'The Metamorphosis' and Albert Camus 'The Outsider' are two novels which present different views of the main protagonist's relationships with others. Kafka mainly focuses on the relationships that exist within a family whereas Camus focuses on relationships that exist in the broader society. In Kafka's 'The Metamorphosis' Gregor Samsa, the main protagonist was the primary bread winner in the Samsa household. He was a traveling salesman who was taking care of the family's debt. Gregor was respected and valued in his family; he did not have an active social life because of his work. His only companions were his mother, sister and father; if at all Gregor had any social relationship it was with his family. The day Gregor metamorphosized, his social relationships with his family changed dramatically; he was no longer respected in his family because of his monstrous physical appearance and his inability to work. The metamorphosis of Gregor may be seen as the point at which his relationships began to break up. In 'The Outsider', Meursault, the main protagonist, is a man for the moment and doesn't think about his future. ...read more.

Middle

This induced lack of character in Meursault by the lawyer influenced people to judge his character differently Franz Kafka's childhood was a bitter experience because the relationship between him and his father wasn't a cheerful; from early childhood itself he began isolating himself from his father. His novel 'The Metamorphosis' portrays Gregor Samsa is isolated from his family. "If Gregor had only been allowed to turn around.....at any minute the cane in his father's hand threatened to come down on his back or his head with a deadly blow" (Kafka, 1986, p.19). Gregor's father was the first person to isolate his son from the rest of the family. The day Gregor changed into a vermin, his father was concerned about the financial prospects of the family. Since, Gregor was the only person who had a job in the family; his parents and sister are concerned about their future, since nobody in the family has a job and is earning money, this tells us that Gregor's parents and sister were self-centered and concerned about their future than Gregor's hideous predicament. Their actions finally lead them to distance themselves from Gregor. Gregor's metamorphosis was the main factor for the decline of his familial relationship; his new form was not accepted by the members of his family; for them the vermin was an object of disgrace both physically and emotionally. ...read more.

Conclusion

Death put an end to the relations Gregor had with his family; the interesting fact is that Gregor died by the actions of his own father which was influenced by his mother and sister. After his metamorphosis, their disgust for him had increased and their wish to get rid of him was achieved, but Gregor always wanted to thank his sister for the services she rendered to him in the initial stages of his metamorphosis; he also wanted to talk to his parents, but the inability of Gregor to communicate detached the foundation of his relationships with his family. Meursault's relationships also came to an end with his death, when he was sentenced to death nobody visited him; not even his girlfriend Marie. "Remembering Marie meant nothing to me" (Camus,1983, p.115). Meursault says this after his trial and when he was sentenced, all forms of communication between the Marie and Meursault ceased. As the novel ends, he also thinks that Marie might have found boyfriend and would have carried on with life. So, he doesn't care about the end of his relationship with Marie. On the other hand, Gregor was concerned about his declining relationships with his family. We can see a big difference in the way in which Gregor and Meursault handle their relationships with others. ...read more.

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