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The Nature of Life in Franz Kafka's Stories

By alan01186 Apr 10, 2013 757 Words
The Nature of Life
Are we controlling our own lives, steering it in the direction that we have pointed out? People tend to believe that we are, and that the road in front is straight and steady. We misjudge the obstacles placed on the course intended to throw us off. The fact is we should not expect life to be rational. Anything can happen when we’re out on the road of life, and learning to expect the unexpected is the key to staying on track. Accidents do happen, and only so much of our lives can be held onto when something like this does occur.

“A Report to an Academy” by Franz Kafka shows how ones’ life is turned in the opposite direction. Red Peter, a former ape, was captured, stating, “For the first time in my life I had no way out” (Kafka 83). Knowing that he only had a little chance of surviving to have some freedom, Peter managed to adapt the human lifestyle. His close observation of the crewmembers and other humans allowed him to imitate them. Having become human enough, he was able to stay out of the zoo and perform as an ape-turned-human on the vaudeville stage. At the end of the road, Peter was able to steer clear and continue his life, although not in the same way as he had started it. As he explains to his audience, “All in all, I have achieved what I wanted to achieve. Let nobody say that it wasn’t worth the trouble” (Kafka 88).

Another story by Kafka, The Metamorphosis, shows a more dramatic twist in ones; journey in life. Gregor, a traveling salesman, transforms into a monstrous vermin (3). He, for sure, did not see this roadblock coming. The change took place overnight, an unanticipated time considering that Gregor was sound asleep. This irrational happening was uncontrollable with the fact that the harm has been done by the time Gregor had woken up, “ What’s happened to me?” (Kafka 3). He even thought that it might have been a dream, stating “How about going back to sleep for a few minutes and forgetting all this nonsense?” (Kafka 3). Gregor’s change affected more than just himself. His family’s lifestyle changed drastically. His own sister even gave up hope even after trying all her best to keep this situation under control, stating, “We have to try to get rid of it. We’ve done everything humanly possible to take care of it and to put up with it” (Kafka 51). Unfortunately, Gregor’s road came to a dead end from all the pain internally and externally. His family dealt with this incident by starting fresh on a new road. They moved away at the first possible chance, and continued a new life one man short.

A third story by Kafka, “The Judgment”, reveals a more realistic type of an irrational life. Georg, like everyone else on this earth, would never expect his life to have ended so soon. Georg’s father never loved him. There has always been conflict between the two, but most importantly, Georg never expected what had been his father’s demand to him. His father blurted out the order “condemn you (Georg) to death by drowning!” (9). At the end, Georg’s life fell short. He might of have listened to his father to show his appreciation of him, and ended his existence with the worlds “Dear parents, I did always love you” (10). Or perhaps, the bumps in his life were just too much for him to flatten out and he just couldn’t handle the stress and burden.

Our lives are very special. We will never know what is out there waiting for us to come towards it until we actually do. Living life to the fullest is something that is not hard to do, but living a rational life is the tricky part. There are detours and obstacles that have to be dealt with. No matter what, everyone should learn to expect the unexpected because whatever life throws at you, even if it hurts, just stay strong and fight through it. No one can say that it wasn’t worth the trouble when you tried to achieve what you want you desire.

Works Cited
Kafka, Franz. The Metamorphosis. Trans. Stanley Corngold. New York: Bantam, 1972. Print. ---. “The Judgment.” The Metamorphosis and Other Stories. Trans. Stanley Appelbaum. New York: Dover, 1996. 1-10. Print. ---. “A Report to an Academy.” The Metamorphosis and Other Stories. Trans. Stanley Appelbaum. New York: Dover, 1996. 81-88. Print.

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