Kafka today is a household word around the world, one of the few
writers to have an adjective named after him (‘‘Kafkaesque’’),
describing the dream-like yet oppressive atmosphere characteristic
of his works. When his writings first appeared, however, some
reviewers found them baffling, tedious, or exasperating; and the two
extreme ideological movements of the twentieth century both found
his message unacceptable. The Nazis banned him, and Communist
critics denounced him as decadent and despairing.
But fairly quickly Kafka began to be praised by a host of influential
writers and intellectuals. The English poet W. H. Auden compared
him to Dante, Shakespeare, and Goethe. The German writer
Thomas Mann, quoted by Ronald Gray in his book Franz Kafka,
said that Kafka's works are "among the worthiest things to be read
in German literature." And the philosopher Hannah Arendt, writing
during World War II, said (also as quoted by Gray) that "Kafka's
nightmare of a world ... has actually come to pass.’’
Potential Theoretical Approaches to
How might you apply these to this
Questions for Section 1
1. Discuss the details Kafka uses to establish Gregor’s life
before his metamorphosis into an insect. How do these
familiar details and objects define Gregor’s character
1. The relationship between Gregor and his father is at
the core of the story. Describe this relationship both
before and after Gregor’s metamorphosis.
1. Much of this part of the story focuses on Gregor’s inner
life. Describe Gregor’s private thoughts and emotions;
use psychoanalytic theory to discuss his attitudes
toward his family and outside world.
Questions for Section 2
Grete’s character undergoes a dramatic change in
section two. Trace the changes that highlight the
changes in her attitude, character, and personality. Can
feminist theory help explain her behavior?
Gregor refuses to part with the picture of the woman
wrapped in furs on the wall. Why is it important?
Explain its symbolic meaning.
In section two of the story, Gregor’s sense of guilt is
highlighted. Use Psychoanalytic theory to explain
Gregor’s guilt. Consider how his lingering guilt affects
his state of mind and his feelings toward his family.
Questions from Section 3
Discuss the three bearded lodgers. What is their
purpose in the story?
It is clear from the outset of Part 3 that Gregor is
dying. How much of his physical decline is his own
doing, and how much of it is caused by outside
Contrast Gregor’s state of mind at the beginning of
this section to right before his death. What incidents
or events cause a change in Gregor’s attitude and
thinking? Are Gregor’s thoughts rational and clear,
or are they blurred and irrational?
Known As: Wiesel,
Eliezer; Wiezsel, Eli;
American Writer ( 1928 - )
Born in Sighet, Romania
He survived Birkenau and
later Auschwitz and Buna
and Buchenwald. His
father, mother, and
youngest sister did not.
After the war, he was
reunited with his two older
sisters who also survived.
“The only way to stop the next holocaust…
is to remember the last one.”
After his release from the
war camps, he boarded a
train for Belgium, which
was ultimately diverted to
France. He stayed there,
completing his education
at Sorbonne, University of
Paris, from 1948-51.
Wiesel immigrated to the
United States in 1956,
and received his U.S.
citizen in 1963
He eventually married
Marion Erster Rose, and
together they had one
son, Shlomo Elisha.
Other novels by Wiesel about the
Jewish experience during and after the
Holocaust include Dawn and The
Accident, which were later published
together with Night in The Night Trilogy
The other two books in the trilogy have
concentration camp survivors as their
Dawn concerns one survivor just
after World War II who joins the
Jewish underground efforts to form
an independent Israeli state.
The Accident is about a man who
discovers that his collision with an
automobile was actually caused by
his subconscious, guilt-ridden desire
to commit suicide.
Some content courtesy of Contemporary Authors Online. Detroit: Gale, 2013.
From Literature Resource Center.
Post #20: Answer one of the
questions from slides 5, 6, or 7
in 200-300 words.
Read Night (First half).
Essay 2 Due Wednesday, week
9 before class via Kaizena