String Methods

Note: You can explore the associated workbook for this chapter in the cloud.

A string is a Python data type that is treated like text, even if it contains a number. Strings are always enclosed by either single quotation marks 'this is a string' or double quotation marks "this is a string". In this lesson, we’re going to explore some special things that you can do with strings.

Practice with Strings

We’re going to practice by using Franz Kafka’s 1915 novella, The Metamorphosis.

sample_text = open("../texts/literature/Kafka-The-Metamorphosis.txt", encoding="utf-8").read()
One morning, when Gregor Samsa woke from troubled dreams, he found
himself transformed in his bed into a horrible vermin.  He lay on
his armour-like back, and if he lifted his head a little he could
see his brown belly, slightly domed and divided by arches into stiff
sections.  The bedding was hardly able to cover it and seemed ready
to slide off any moment.  His many legs, pitifully thin compared
with the size of the rest of him, waved about helplessly as he

"What's happened to me?" he thought.  It wasn't a dream.  His room,
a proper human room although a little too small, lay peacefully
between its four familiar walls.  A collection of textile samples
lay spread out on the table - Samsa was a travelling salesman - and
above it there hung a picture that he had recently cut out of an
illustrated magazine and housed in a nice, gilded frame.  It showed
a lady fitted out with a fur hat and fur boa who sat upright,
raising a heavy fur muff that covered the whole of her lower arm
towards the viewer.

Gregor then turned to look out the window at the dull weather.
Drops of rain could be heard hitting the pane, which made him feel
quite sad.  "How about if I sleep a little bit longer and forget all
this nonsense", he thought, but that was something he was unable to
do because he was used to sleeping on his right, and in his present
state couldn't get into that position.  However hard he threw
himself onto his right, he always rolled back to where he was.  He
must have tried it a hundred times, shut his eyes so that he
wouldn't have to look at the floundering legs, and only stopped when
he began to feel a mild, dull pain there that he had never felt

"Oh, God", he thought, "what a strenuous career it is that I've
chosen! Travelling day in and day out.  Doing business like this
takes much more effort than doing your own business at home, and on
top of that there's the curse of travelling, worries about making
train connections, bad and irregular food, contact with different
people all the time so that you can never get to know anyone or
become friendly with them.  It can all go to Hell!"  He felt a
slight itch up on his belly; pushed himself slowly up on his back
towards the headboard so that he could lift his head better; found
where the itch was, and saw that it was covered with lots of little
white spots which he didn't know what to make of; and when he tried
to feel the place with one of his legs he drew it quickly back
because as soon as he touched it he was overcome by a cold shudder.

He slid back into his former position.  "Getting up early all the
time", he thought, "it makes you stupid.  You've got to get enough
sleep.  Other travelling salesmen live a life of luxury.  For
instance, whenever I go back to the guest house during the morning
to copy out the contract, these gentlemen are always still sitting
there eating their breakfasts.  I ought to just try that with my
boss; I'd get kicked out on the spot.  But who knows, maybe that
would be the best thing for me.  If I didn't have my parents to
think about I'd have given in my notice a long time ago, I'd have
gone up to the boss and told him just what I think, tell him
everything I would, let him know just what I feel.  He'd fall right
off his desk! And it's a funny sort of business to be sitting up
there at your desk, talking down at your subordinates from up there,
especially when you have to go right up close because the boss is
hard of hearing.  Well, there's still some hope; once I've got the
money together to pay off my parents' debt to him - another five or
six years I suppose - that's definitely what I'll do.  That's when
I'll make the big change.  First of all though, I've got to get up,
my train leaves at five."

And he looked over at the alarm clock, ticking on the chest of
drawers.  "God in Heaven!" he thought.  It was half past six and the
hands were quietly moving forwards, it was even later than half
past, more like quarter to seven.  Had the alarm clock not rung? He
could see from the bed that it had been set for four o'clock as it
should have been; it certainly must have rung.  Yes, but was it
possible to quietly sleep through that furniture-rattling noise?
True, he had not slept peacefully, but probably all the more deeply
because of that.  What should he do now? The next train went at
seven; if he were to catch that he would have to rush like mad and
the collection of samples was still not packed, and he did not at
all feel particularly fresh and lively.  And even if he did catch
the train he would not avoid his boss's anger as the office
assistant would have been there to see the five o'clock train go, he
would have put in his report about Gregor's not being there a long
time ago.  The office assistant was the boss's man, spineless, and
with no understanding.  What about if he reported sick? But that
would be extremely strained and suspicious as in fifteen years of
service Gregor had never once yet been ill.  His boss would
certainly come round with the doctor from the medical insurance
company, accuse his parents of having a lazy son, and accept the
doctor's recommendation not to make any claim as the doctor believed
that no-one was ever ill but that many were workshy.  And what's
more, would he have been entirely wrong in this case? Gregor did in
fact, apart from excessive sleepiness after sleeping for so long,
feel completely well and even felt much hungrier than usual.

He was still hurriedly thinking all this through, unable to decide
to get out of the bed, when the clock struck quarter to seven.
There was a cautious knock at the door near his head.  "Gregor",
somebody called - it was his mother - "it's quarter to seven.
Didn't you want to go somewhere?"  That gentle voice! Gregor was
shocked when he heard his own voice answering, it could hardly be
recognised as the voice he had had before.  As if from deep inside
him, there was a painful and uncontrollable squeaking mixed in with
it, the words could be made out at first but then there was a sort
of echo which made them unclear, leaving the hearer unsure whether
he had heard properly or not.  Gregor had wanted to give a full
answer and explain everything, but in the circumstances contented
himself with saying: "Yes, mother, yes, thank-you, I'm getting up
now."  The change in Gregor's voice probably could not be noticed
outside through the wooden door, as his mother was satisfied with
this explanation and shuffled away.  But this short conversation
made the other members of the family aware that Gregor, against
their expectations was still at home, and soon his father came
knocking at one of the side doors, gently, but with his fist.
"Gregor, Gregor", he called, "what's wrong?"  And after a short
while he called again with a warning deepness in his voice: "Gregor!
Gregor!"  At the other side door his sister came plaintively:
"Gregor? Aren't you well? Do you need anything?"  Gregor answered to
both sides: "I'm ready, now", making an effort to remove all the
strangeness from his voice by enunciating very carefully and putting
long pauses between each, individual word.  His father went back to
his breakfast, but his sister whispered: "Gregor, open the door, I
beg of you."  Gregor, however, had no thought of opening the door,
and instead congratulated himself for his cautious habit, acquired
from his travelling, of locking all doors at night even when he was
at home.

The first thing he wanted to do was to get up in peace without being
disturbed, to get dressed, and most of all to have his breakfast.
Only then would he consider what to do next, as he was well aware
that he would not bring his thoughts to any sensible conclusions by
lying in bed.  He remembered that he had often felt a slight pain in
bed, perhaps caused by lying awkwardly, but that had always turned
out to be pure imagination and he wondered how his imaginings would
slowly resolve themselves today.  He did not have the slightest
doubt that the change in his voice was nothing more than the first
sign of a serious cold, which was an occupational hazard for
travelling salesmen.

It was a simple matter to throw off the covers; he only had to blow
himself up a little and they fell off by themselves.  But it became
difficult after that, especially as he was so exceptionally broad.
He would have used his arms and his hands to push himself up; but
instead of them he only had all those little legs continuously
moving in different directions, and which he was moreover unable to
control.  If he wanted to bend one of them, then that was the first
one that would stretch itself out; and if he finally managed to do
what he wanted with that leg, all the others seemed to be set free
and would move about painfully.  "This is something that can't be
done in bed", Gregor said to himself, "so don't keep trying to do

The first thing he wanted to do was get the lower part of his body
out of the bed, but he had never seen this lower part, and could not
imagine what it looked like; it turned out to be too hard to move;
it went so slowly; and finally, almost in a frenzy, when he
carelessly shoved himself forwards with all the force he could
gather, he chose the wrong direction, hit hard against the lower
bedpost, and learned from the burning pain he felt that the lower
part of his body might well, at present, be the most sensitive.

So then he tried to get the top part of his body out of the bed
first, carefully turning his head to the side.  This he managed
quite easily, and despite its breadth and its weight, the bulk of
his body eventually followed slowly in the direction of the head.
But when he had at last got his head out of the bed and into the
fresh air it occurred to him that if he let himself fall it would be
a miracle if his head were not injured, so he became afraid to carry
on pushing himself forward the same way.  And he could not knock
himself out now at any price; better to stay in bed than lose

It took just as much effort to get back to where he had been
earlier, but when he lay there sighing, and was once more watching
his legs as they struggled against each other even harder than
before, if that was possible, he could think of no way of bringing
peace and order to this chaos.  He told himself once more that it
was not possible for him to stay in bed and that the most sensible
thing to do would be to get free of it in whatever way he could at
whatever sacrifice.  At the same time, though, he did not forget to
remind himself that calm consideration was much better than rushing
to desperate conclusions.  At times like this he would direct his
eyes to the window and look out as clearly as he could, but
unfortunately, even the other side of the narrow street was
enveloped in morning fog and the view had little confidence or cheer
to offer him.  "Seven o'clock, already", he said to himself when the
clock struck again, "seven o'clock, and there's still a fog like
this."  And he lay there quietly a while longer, breathing lightly
as if he perhaps expected the total stillness to bring things back
to their real and natural state.

But then he said to himself: "Before it strikes quarter past seven
I'll definitely have to have got properly out of bed.  And by then
somebody will have come round from work to ask what's happened to me
as well, as they open up at work before seven o'clock."  And so he
set himself to the task of swinging the entire length of his body
out of the bed all at the same time.  If he succeeded in falling out
of bed in this way and kept his head raised as he did so he could
probably avoid injuring it.  His back seemed to be quite hard, and
probably nothing would happen to it falling onto the carpet.  His
main concern was for the loud noise he was bound to make, and which
even through all the doors would probably raise concern if not
alarm.  But it was something that had to be risked.

When Gregor was already sticking half way out of the bed - the new
method was more of a game than an effort, all he had to do was rock
back and forth - it occurred to him how simple everything would be
if somebody came to help him.  Two strong people - he had his father
and the maid in mind - would have been more than enough; they would
only have to push their arms under the dome of his back, peel him
away from the bed, bend down with the load and then be patient and
careful as he swang over onto the floor, where, hopefully, the
little legs would find a use.  Should he really call for help
though, even apart from the fact that all the doors were locked?
Despite all the difficulty he was in, he could not suppress a smile
at this thought.

After a while he had already moved so far across that it would have
been hard for him to keep his balance if he rocked too hard.  The
time was now ten past seven and he would have to make a final
decision very soon.  Then there was a ring at the door of the flat.
"That'll be someone from work", he said to himself, and froze very
still, although his little legs only became all the more lively as
they danced around.  For a moment everything remained quiet.
"They're not opening the door", Gregor said to himself, caught in
some nonsensical hope.  But then of course, the maid's firm steps
went to the door as ever and opened it.  Gregor only needed to hear
the visitor's first words of greeting and he knew who it was - the
chief clerk himself.  Why did Gregor have to be the only one
condemned to work for a company where they immediately became highly
suspicious at the slightest shortcoming? Were all employees, every
one of them, louts, was there not one of them who was faithful and
devoted who would go so mad with pangs of conscience that he
couldn't get out of bed if he didn't spend at least a couple of
hours in the morning on company business? Was it really not enough
to let one of the trainees make enquiries - assuming enquiries were
even necessary - did the chief clerk have to come himself, and did
they have to show the whole, innocent family that this was so
suspicious that only the chief clerk could be trusted to have the
wisdom to investigate it? And more because these thoughts had made
him upset than through any proper decision, he swang himself with
all his force out of the bed.  There was a loud thump, but it wasn't
really a loud noise.  His fall was softened a little by the carpet,
and Gregor's back was also more elastic than he had thought, which
made the sound muffled and not too noticeable.  He had not held his
head carefully enough, though, and hit it as he fell; annoyed and in
pain, he turned it and rubbed it against the carpet.

"Something's fallen down in there", said the chief clerk in the room
on the left.  Gregor tried to imagine whether something of the sort
that had happened to him today could ever happen to the chief clerk
too; you had to concede that it was possible.  But as if in gruff
reply to this question, the chief clerk's firm footsteps in his
highly polished boots could now be heard in the adjoining room.
From the room on his right, Gregor's sister whispered to him to let
him know: "Gregor, the chief clerk is here."  "Yes, I know", said
Gregor to himself; but without daring to raise his voice loud enough
for his sister to hear him.

"Gregor", said his father now from the room to his left, "the chief
clerk has come round and wants to know why you didn't leave on the
early train.  We don't know what to say to him.  And anyway, he
wants to speak to you personally.  So please open up this door.  I'm
sure he'll be good enough to forgive the untidiness of your room."
Then the chief clerk called "Good morning,  Mr. Samsa". "He isn't
well", said his mother to the chief clerk, while his father
continued to speak through the door.  "He isn't well, please believe
me.  Why else would Gregor have missed a train! The lad only ever
thinks about the business.  It nearly makes me cross the way he
never goes out in the evenings; he's been in town for a week now but
stayed home every evening.  He sits with us in the kitchen and just
reads the paper or studies train timetables.  His idea of relaxation
is working with his fretsaw.  He's made a little frame, for
instance, it only took him two or three evenings, you'll be amazed
how nice it is; it's hanging up in his room; you'll see it as soon
as Gregor opens the door.  Anyway, I'm glad you're here; we wouldn't
have been able to get Gregor to open the door by ourselves; he's so
stubborn; and I'm sure he isn't well, he said this morning that he
is, but he isn't."  "I'll be there in a moment", said Gregor slowly
and thoughtfully, but without moving so that he would not miss any
word of the conversation.  "Well I can't think of any other way of
explaining it,  Mrs. Samsa", said the chief clerk, "I hope it's
nothing serious.  But on the other hand, I must say that if we
people in commerce ever become slightly unwell then, fortunately or
unfortunately as you like, we simply have to overcome it because of
business considerations."  "Can the chief clerk come in to see you
now then?", asked his father impatiently, knocking at the door
again.  "No", said Gregor.  In the room on his right there followed
a painful silence; in the room on his left his sister began to cry.

So why did his sister not go and join the others? She had probably
only just got up and had not even begun to get dressed.  And why was
she crying? Was it because he had not got up, and had not let the
chief clerk in, because he was in danger of losing his job and if
that happened his boss would once more pursue their parents with the
same demands as before? There was no need to worry about things like
that yet.  Gregor was still there and had not the slightest
intention of abandoning his family.  For the time being he just lay
there on the carpet, and no-one who knew the condition he was in
would seriously have expected him to let the chief clerk in.  It was
only a minor discourtesy, and a suitable excuse could easily be
found for it later on, it was not something for which Gregor could
be sacked on the spot.  And it seemed to Gregor much more sensible
to leave him now in peace instead of disturbing him with talking at
him and crying.  But the others didn't know what was happening, they
were worried, that would excuse their behaviour.

The chief clerk now raised his voice, "Mr. Samsa", he called to him,
"what is wrong? You barricade yourself in your room, give us no more
than yes or no for an answer, you are causing serious and
unnecessary concern to your parents and you fail - and I mention
this just by the way - you fail to carry out your business duties in
a way that is quite unheard of.  I'm speaking here on behalf of your
parents and of your employer, and really must request a clear and
immediate explanation.  I am astonished, quite astonished.  I
thought I knew you as a calm and sensible person, and now you
suddenly seem to be showing off with peculiar whims.  This morning,
your employer did suggest a possible reason for your failure to
appear, it's true - it had to do with the money that was recently
entrusted to you - but I came near to giving him my word of honour
that that could not be the right explanation.  But now that I see
your incomprehensible stubbornness I no longer feel any wish
whatsoever to intercede on your behalf.  And nor is your position
all that secure.  I had originally intended to say all this to you
in private, but since you cause me to waste my time here for no good
reason I don't see why your parents should not also learn of it.
Your turnover has been very unsatisfactory of late; I grant you that
it's not the time of year to do especially good business, we
recognise that; but there simply is no time of year to do no
business at all,  Mr. Samsa, we cannot allow there to be."

"But Sir", called Gregor, beside himself and forgetting all else in
the excitement, "I'll open up immediately, just a moment.  I'm
slightly unwell, an attack of dizziness, I haven't been able to get
up.  I'm still in bed now.  I'm quite fresh again now, though.  I'm
just getting out of bed.  Just a moment.  Be patient! It's not quite
as easy as I'd thought.  I'm quite alright now, though.  It's
shocking, what can suddenly happen to a person! I was quite alright
last night, my parents know about it, perhaps better than me, I had
a small symptom of it last night already.  They must have noticed
it.  I don't know why I didn't let you know at work! But you always
think you can get over an illness without staying at home.  Please,
don't make my parents suffer! There's no basis for any of the
accusations you're making; nobody's ever said a word to me about any
of these things.  Maybe you haven't read the latest contracts I sent
in.  I'll set off with the eight o'clock train, as well, these few
hours of rest have given me strength.  You don't need to wait, sir;
I'll be in the office soon after you, and please be so good as to
tell that to the boss and recommend me to him!"

And while Gregor gushed out these words, hardly knowing what he was
saying, he made his way over to the chest of drawers - this was
easily done, probably because of the practise he had already had in
bed - where he now tried to get himself upright.  He really did want
to open the door, really did want to let them see him and to speak
with the chief clerk; the others were being so insistent, and he was
curious to learn what they would say when they caught sight of him.
If they were shocked then it would no longer be Gregor's
responsibility and he could rest.  If, however, they took everything
calmly he would still have no reason to be upset, and if he hurried
he really could be at the station for eight o'clock.  The first few
times he tried to climb up on the smooth chest of drawers he just
slid down again, but he finally gave himself one last swing and
stood there upright; the lower part of his body was in serious pain
but he no longer gave any attention to it.  Now he let himself fall
against the back of a nearby chair and held tightly to the edges of
it with his little legs.  By now he had also calmed down, and kept
quiet so that he could listen to what the chief clerk was saying.

"Did you understand a word of all that?" the chief clerk asked his
parents, "surely he's not trying to make fools of us". "Oh, God!"
called his mother, who was already in tears, "he could be seriously
ill and we're making him suffer.  Grete! Grete!" she then cried.
"Mother?" his sister called from the other side.  They communicated
across Gregor's room.  "You'll have to go for the doctor straight
away.  Gregor is ill.  Quick, get the doctor.  Did you hear the way
Gregor spoke just now?"  "That was the voice of an animal", said the
chief clerk, with a calmness that was in contrast with his mother's
screams.  "Anna! Anna!" his father called into the kitchen through
the entrance hall, clapping his hands, "get a locksmith here, now!"
And the two girls, their skirts swishing, immediately ran out
through the hall, wrenching open the front door of the flat as they
went.  How had his sister managed to get dressed so quickly? There
was no sound of the door banging shut again; they must have left it
open;  people often do in homes where something awful has happened.

Gregor, in contrast, had become much calmer.  So they couldn't
understand his words any more, although they seemed clear enough to
him, clearer than before - perhaps his ears had become used to the
sound.  They had realised, though, that there was something wrong
with him, and were ready to help.  The first response to his
situation had been confident and wise, and that made him feel
better.  He felt that he had been drawn back in among people, and
from the doctor and the locksmith he expected great and surprising
achievements - although he did not really distinguish one from the
other.  Whatever was said next would be crucial, so, in order to
make his voice as clear as possible, he coughed a little, but taking
care to do this not too loudly as even this might well sound
different from the way that a human coughs and he was no longer sure
he could judge this for himself.  Meanwhile, it had become very
quiet in the next room.  Perhaps his parents were sat at the table
whispering with the chief clerk, or perhaps they were all pressed
against the door and listening.

Gregor slowly pushed his way over to the door with the chair.  Once
there he let go of it and threw himself onto the door, holding
himself upright against it using the adhesive on the tips of his
legs.  He rested there a little while to recover from the effort
involved and then set himself to the task of turning the key in the
lock with his mouth.  He seemed, unfortunately, to have no proper
teeth - how was he, then, to grasp the key? - but the lack of teeth
was, of course, made up for with a very strong jaw; using the jaw,
he really was able to start the key turning, ignoring the fact that
he must have been causing some kind of damage as a brown fluid came
from his mouth, flowed over the key and dripped onto the floor.
"Listen", said the chief clerk in the next room, "he's turning the
key."  Gregor was greatly encouraged by this; but they all should
have been calling to him, his father and his mother too: "Well done,
Gregor", they should have cried, "keep at it, keep hold of the
lock!"  And with the idea that they were all excitedly following his
efforts, he bit on the key with all his strength, paying no
attention to the pain he was causing himself.  As the key turned
round he turned around the lock with it, only holding himself
upright with his mouth, and hung onto the key or pushed it down
again with the whole weight of his body as needed.  The clear sound
of the lock as it snapped back was Gregor's sign that he could break
his concentration, and as he regained his breath he said to himself:
"So, I didn't need the locksmith after all". Then he lay his head on
the handle of the door to open it completely.

Because he had to open the door in this way, it was already wide
open before he could be seen.  He had first to slowly turn himself
around one of the double doors, and he had to do it very carefully
if he did not want to fall flat on his back before entering the
room.  He was still occupied with this difficult movement, unable to
pay attention to anything else, when he heard the chief clerk
exclaim a loud "Oh!", which sounded like the soughing of the wind.
Now he also saw him - he was the nearest to the door - his hand
pressed against his open mouth and slowly retreating as if driven by
a steady and invisible force.  Gregor's mother, her hair still
dishevelled from bed despite the chief clerk's being there, looked
at his father.  Then she unfolded her arms, took two steps forward
towards Gregor and sank down onto the floor into her skirts that
spread themselves out around her as her head disappeared down onto
her breast.  His father looked hostile, and clenched his fists as if
wanting to knock Gregor back into his room.  Then he looked
uncertainly round the living room, covered his eyes with his hands
and wept so that his powerful chest shook.

So Gregor did not go into the room, but leant against the inside of
the other door which was still held bolted in place.  In this way
only half of his body could be seen, along with his head above it
which he leant over to one side as he peered out at the others.
Meanwhile the day had become much lighter; part of the endless,
grey-black building on the other side of the street - which was a
hospital - could be seen quite clearly with the austere and regular
line of windows piercing its facade; the rain was still
falling, now throwing down large, individual droplets which hit the
ground one at a time.  The washing up from breakfast lay on the
table; there was so much of it because, for Gregor's father,
breakfast was the most important meal of the day and he would
stretch it out for several hours as he sat reading a number of
different newspapers.  On the wall exactly opposite there was
photograph of Gregor when he was a lieutenant in the army, his sword
in his hand and a carefree smile on his face as he called forth
respect for his uniform and bearing.  The door to the entrance hall
was open and as the front door of the flat was also open he could
see onto the landing and the stairs where they began their way down

"Now, then", said Gregor, well aware that he was the only one to
have kept calm, "I'll get dressed straight away now, pack up my
samples and set off.  Will you please just let me leave? You can
see", he said to the chief clerk, "that I'm not stubborn and I
like to do my job; being a commercial traveller is arduous but
without travelling I couldn't earn my living.  So where are you
going, in to the office? Yes? Will you report everything accurately,
then? It's quite possible for someone to be temporarily unable to
work, but that's just the right time to remember what's been
achieved in the past and consider that later on, once the difficulty
has been removed, he will certainly work with all the more diligence
and concentration.  You're well aware that I'm seriously in debt to
our employer as well as having to look after my parents and my
sister, so that I'm trapped in a difficult situation, but I will
work my way out of it again.  Please don't make things any harder
for me than they are already, and don't take sides against me at the
office.  I know that nobody likes the travellers.  They think we
earn an enormous wage as well as having a soft time of it.  That's
just prejudice but they have no particular reason to think better of
it.  But you, sir, you have a better overview than the rest of the
staff, in fact, if I can say this in confidence, a better overview
than the boss himself - it's very easy for a businessman like him to
make mistakes about his employees and judge them more harshly than
he should.  And you're also well aware that we travellers spend
almost the whole year away from the office, so that we can very
easily fall victim to gossip and chance and groundless complaints,
and it's almost impossible to defend yourself from that sort of
thing, we don't usually even hear about them, or if at all it's when
we arrive back home exhausted from a trip, and that's when we feel
the harmful effects of what's been going on without even knowing
what caused them.  Please, don't go away, at least first say
something to show that you grant that I'm at least partly right!"

But the chief clerk had turned away as soon as Gregor had started to
speak, and, with protruding lips, only stared back at him over his
trembling shoulders as he left.  He did not keep still for a moment
while Gregor was speaking, but moved steadily towards the door
without taking his eyes off him.  He moved very gradually, as if
there had been some secret prohibition on leaving the room.  It was
only when he had reached the entrance hall that he made a sudden
movement, drew his foot from the living room, and rushed forward in
a panic.  In the hall, he stretched his right hand far out towards
the stairway as if out there, there were some supernatural force
waiting to save him.

Gregor realised that it was out of the question to let the chief
clerk go away in this mood if his position in the firm was not to be
put into extreme danger.  That was something his parents did not
understand very well; over the years, they had become convinced that
this job would provide for Gregor for his entire life, and besides,
they had so much to worry about at present that they had lost sight
of any thought for the future.  Gregor, though, did think about the
future.  The chief clerk had to be held back, calmed down, convinced
and finally won over; the future of Gregor and his family depended
on it! If only his sister were here! She was clever; she was already
in tears while Gregor was still lying peacefully on his back.  And
the chief clerk was a lover of women, surely she could persuade him;
she would close the front door in the entrance hall and talk him out
of his shocked state.  But his sister was not there, Gregor would
have to do the job himself.  And without considering that he still
was not familiar with how well he could move about in his present
state, or that his speech still might not - or probably would not -
be understood, he let go of the door; pushed himself through the
opening; tried to reach the chief clerk on the landing who,
ridiculously, was holding on to the banister with both hands; but
Gregor fell immediately over and, with a little scream as he sought
something to hold onto, landed on his numerous little legs.  Hardly
had that happened than, for the first time that day, he began to
feel alright with his body; the little legs had the solid ground
under them; to his pleasure, they did exactly as he told them; they
were even making the effort to carry him where he wanted to go; and
he was soon believing that all his sorrows would soon be finally at
an end.  He held back the urge to move but swayed from side to side
as he crouched there on the floor.  His mother was not far away in
front of him and seemed, at first, quite engrossed in herself, but
then she suddenly jumped up with her arms outstretched and her
fingers spread shouting: "Help, for pity's sake, Help!"  The way she
held her head suggested she wanted to see Gregor better, but the
unthinking way she was hurrying backwards showed that she did not;
she had forgotten that the table was behind her with all the
breakfast things on it; when she reached the table she sat quickly
down on it without knowing what she was doing; without even seeming
to notice that the coffee pot had been knocked over and a gush of
coffee was pouring down onto the carpet.

"Mother, mother", said Gregor gently, looking up at her.  He had
completely forgotten the chief clerk for the moment, but could not
help himself snapping in the air with his jaws at the sight of the
flow of coffee.  That set his mother screaming anew, she fled from
the table and into the arms of his father as he rushed towards her.
Gregor, though, had no time to spare for his parents now; the chief
clerk had already reached the stairs; with his chin on the banister,
he looked back for the last time.  Gregor made a run for him; he
wanted to be sure of reaching him; the chief clerk must have
expected something, as he leapt down several steps at once and
disappeared; his shouts resounding all around the staircase.  The
flight of the chief clerk seemed, unfortunately, to put Gregor's
father into a panic as well.  Until then he had been relatively self
controlled, but now, instead of running after the chief clerk
himself, or at least not impeding Gregor as he ran after him,
Gregor's father seized the chief clerk's stick in his right hand
(the chief clerk had left it behind on a chair, along with his hat
and overcoat), picked up a large newspaper from the table with his
left, and used them to drive Gregor back into his room, stamping his
foot at him as he went.  Gregor's appeals to his father were of no
help, his appeals were simply not understood, however much he humbly
turned his head his father merely stamped his foot all the harder.
Across the room, despite the chilly weather, Gregor's mother had
pulled open a window, leant far out of it and pressed her hands to
her face.  A strong draught of air flew in from the street towards
the stairway, the curtains flew up, the newspapers on the table
fluttered and some of them were blown onto the floor.  Nothing would
stop Gregor's father as he drove him back, making hissing noises at
him like a wild man.  Gregor had never had any practice in moving
backwards and was only able to go very slowly.  If Gregor had only
been allowed to turn round he would have been back in his room
straight away, but he was afraid that if he took the time to do that
his father would become impatient, and there was the threat of a
lethal blow to his back or head from the stick in his father's hand
any moment.  Eventually, though, Gregor realised that he had no
choice as he saw, to his disgust, that he was quite incapable of
going backwards in a straight line; so he began, as quickly as
possible and with frequent anxious glances at his father, to turn
himself round.  It went very slowly, but perhaps his father was able
to see his good intentions as he did nothing to hinder him, in fact
now and then he used the tip of his stick to give directions from a
distance as to which way to turn.  If only his father would stop
that unbearable hissing! It was making Gregor quite confused.  When
he had nearly finished turning round, still listening to that
hissing, he made a mistake and turned himself back a little the way
he had just come.  He was pleased when he finally had his head in
front of the doorway, but then saw that it was too narrow, and his
body was too broad to get through it without further difficulty.  In
his present mood, it obviously did not occur to his father to open
the other of the double doors so that Gregor would have enough space
to get through.  He was merely fixed on the idea that Gregor should
be got back into his room as quickly as possible.  Nor would he ever
have allowed Gregor the time to get himself upright as preparation
for getting through the doorway.  What he did, making more noise
than ever, was to drive Gregor forwards all the harder as if there
had been nothing in the way; it sounded to Gregor as if there was
now more than one father behind him; it was not a pleasant
experience, and Gregor pushed himself into the doorway without
regard for what might happen.  One side of his body lifted itself,
he lay at an angle in the doorway, one flank scraped on the white
door and was painfully injured, leaving vile brown flecks on it,
soon he was stuck fast and would not have been able to move at all
by himself, the little legs along one side hung quivering in the air
while those on the other side were pressed painfully against the
ground.  Then his father gave him a hefty shove from behind which
released him from where he was held and sent him flying, and heavily
bleeding, deep into his room.  The door was slammed shut with the
stick, then, finally, all was quiet.


It was not until it was getting dark that evening that Gregor awoke
from his deep and coma-like sleep.  He would have woken soon
afterwards anyway even if he hadn't been disturbed, as he had had
enough sleep and felt fully rested.  But he had the impression that
some hurried steps and the sound of the door leading into the front
room being carefully shut had woken him.  The light from the
electric street lamps shone palely here and there onto the ceiling
and tops of the furniture, but down below, where Gregor was, it was
dark.  He pushed himself over to the door, feeling his way clumsily
with his antennae - of which he was now beginning to learn the value
- in order to see what had been happening there.  The whole of his
left side seemed like one, painfully stretched scar,  and he limped
badly on his two rows of legs.  One of the legs had been badly
injured in the events of that morning - it was nearly a miracle that
only one of them had been - and dragged along lifelessly.

It was only when he had reached the door that he realised what it
actually was that had drawn him over to it; it was the smell of
something to eat.  By the door there was a dish filled with
sweetened milk with little pieces of white bread floating in it.  He
was so pleased he almost laughed, as he was even hungrier than he
had been that morning, and immediately dipped his head into the
milk, nearly covering his eyes with it.  But he soon drew his head
back again in disappointment; not only did the pain in his tender
left side make it difficult to eat the food - he was only able to
eat if his whole body worked together as a snuffling whole - but the
milk did not taste at all nice.  Milk like this was normally his
favourite drink, and his sister had certainly left it there for him
because of that, but he turned, almost against his own will, away
from the dish and crawled back into the centre of the room.

Through the crack in the door, Gregor could see that the gas had
been lit in the living room.  His father at this time would normally
be sat with his evening paper, reading it out in a loud voice to
Gregor's mother, and sometimes to his sister, but there was now not
a sound to be heard.  Gregor's sister would often write and tell him
about this reading, but maybe his father had lost the habit in
recent times.  It was so quiet all around too, even though there
must have been somebody in the flat.  "What a quiet life it is the
family lead", said Gregor to himself, and, gazing into the darkness,
felt a great pride that he was able to provide a life like that in
such a nice home for his sister and parents.  But what now, if all
this peace and wealth and comfort should come to a horrible and
frightening end? That was something that Gregor did not want to
think about too much, so he started to move about, crawling up and
down the room.

Once during that long evening, the door on one side of the room was
opened very slightly and hurriedly closed again; later on the door
on the other side did the same; it seemed that someone needed to
enter the room but thought better of it.  Gregor went and waited
immediately by the door, resolved either to bring the timorous
visitor into the room in some way or at least to find out who it
was; but the door was opened no more that night and Gregor waited in
vain.  The previous morning while the doors were locked everyone had
wanted to get in there to him, but now, now that he had opened up
one of the doors and the other had clearly been unlocked some time
during the day, no-one came, and the keys were in the other sides.

It was not until late at night that the gaslight in the living room
was put out, and now it was easy to see that his parents and sister had
stayed awake all that time, as they all could be distinctly heard as
they went away together on tip-toe.  It was clear that no-one would
come into Gregor's room any more until morning; that gave him plenty
of time to think undisturbed about how he would have to re-arrange
his life.  For some reason, the tall, empty room where he was forced
to remain made him feel uneasy as he lay there flat on the floor,
even though he had been living in it for five years.  Hardly aware
of what he was doing other than a slight feeling of shame, he
hurried under the couch.  It pressed down on his back a little, and
he was no longer able to lift his head, but he nonetheless felt
immediately at ease and his only regret was that his body was too
broad to get it all underneath.

He spent the whole night there.  Some of the time he passed in a
light sleep, although he frequently woke from it in alarm because of
his hunger, and some of the time was spent in worries and vague
hopes which, however, always led to the same conclusion: for the
time being he must remain calm, he must show patience and the
greatest consideration so that his family could bear the
unpleasantness that he, in his present condition, was forced to
impose on them.

Gregor soon had the opportunity to test the strength of his
decisions, as early the next morning, almost before the night had
ended, his sister, nearly fully dressed, opened the door from the
front room and looked anxiously in.  She did not see him straight
away, but when she did notice him under the couch - he had to be
somewhere, for God's sake, he couldn't have flown away - she was so
shocked that she lost control of herself and slammed the door shut
again from outside.  But she seemed to regret her behaviour, as she
opened the door again straight away and came in on tip-toe as if
entering the room of someone seriously ill or even of a stranger.
Gregor had pushed his head forward, right to the edge of the couch,
and watched her.  Would she notice that he had left the milk as it
was, realise that it was not from any lack of hunger and bring him
in some other food that was more suitable? If she didn't do it
herself he would rather go hungry than draw her attention to it,
although he did feel a terrible urge to rush forward from under the
couch, throw himself at his sister's feet and beg her for something
good to eat.  However, his sister noticed the full dish immediately
and looked at it and the few drops of milk splashed around it with
some surprise.  She immediately picked it up - using a rag,
not her bare hands - and carried it out.  Gregor was extremely
curious as to what she would bring in its place, imagining the
wildest possibilities, but he never could have guessed what his
sister, in her goodness, actually did bring.  In order to test his
taste, she brought him a whole selection of things, all spread out
on an old newspaper.  There were old, half-rotten vegetables; bones
from the evening meal, covered in white sauce that had gone hard; a
few raisins and almonds; some cheese that Gregor had declared
inedible two days before; a dry roll and some bread spread with
butter and salt.  As well as all that she had poured some water into
the dish, which had probably been permanently set aside for Gregor's
use, and placed it beside them.  Then, out of consideration for
Gregor's feelings, as she knew that he would not eat in front of
her, she hurried out again and even turned the key in the lock so
that Gregor would know he could make things as comfortable for
himself as he liked.  Gregor's little legs whirred, at last he could
eat.  What's more, his injuries must already have completely healed
as he found no difficulty in moving.  This amazed him, as more than
a month earlier he had cut his finger slightly with a knife, he
thought of how his finger had still hurt the day before yesterday.
"Am I less sensitive than I used to be, then?", he thought, and was
already sucking greedily at the cheese which had immediately, almost
compellingly, attracted him much more than the other foods on the
newspaper.  Quickly one after another, his eyes watering with
pleasure, he consumed the cheese, the vegetables and the sauce; the
fresh foods, on the other hand, he didn't like at all, and even
dragged the things he did want to eat a little way away from them
because he couldn't stand the smell.  Long after he had finished
eating and lay lethargic in the same place, his sister slowly turned
the key in the lock as a sign to him that he should withdraw.  He
was immediately startled, although he had been half asleep, and he
hurried back under the couch.  But he needed great self-control to
stay there even for the short time that his sister was in the room,
as eating so much food had rounded out his body a little and he
could hardly breathe in that narrow space.  Half suffocating, he
watched with bulging eyes as his sister unselfconsciously took a
broom and swept up the left-overs, mixing them in with the food he
had not even touched at all as if it could not be used any more.
She quickly dropped it all into a bin, closed it with its wooden
lid, and carried everything out.  She had hardly turned her back
before Gregor came out again from under the couch and stretched

This was how Gregor received his food each day now, once in the
morning while his parents and the maid were still asleep, and the
second time after everyone had eaten their meal at midday as his
parents would sleep for a little while then as well, and Gregor's
sister would send the maid away on some errand.  Gregor's father and
mother certainly did not want him to starve either, but perhaps it
would have been more than they could stand to have any more
experience of his feeding than being told about it, and perhaps his
sister wanted to spare them what distress she could as they were
indeed suffering enough.

It was impossible for Gregor to find out what they had told the
doctor and the locksmith that first morning to get them out of the
flat.  As nobody could understand him, nobody, not even his sister,
thought that he could understand them, so he had to be content to
hear his sister's sighs and appeals to the saints as she moved about
his room.  It was only later, when she had become a little more used
to everything - there was, of course, no question of her ever
becoming fully used to the situation - that Gregor would sometimes
catch a friendly comment, or at least a comment that could be
construed as friendly.  "He's enjoyed his dinner today", she might
say when he had diligently cleared away all the food left for him,
or if he left most of it, which slowly became more and more
frequent, she would often say, sadly, "now everything's just been
left there again".

Although Gregor wasn't able to hear any news directly he did listen
to much of what was said in the next rooms, and whenever he heard
anyone speaking he would scurry straight to the appropriate door and
press his whole body against it.  There was seldom any conversation,
especially at first, that was not about him in some way, even if
only in secret.  For two whole days, all the talk at every mealtime
was about what they should do now; but even between meals they spoke
about the same subject as there were always at least two members of
the family at home - nobody wanted to be at home by themselves and
it was out of the question to leave the flat entirely empty.  And on
the very first day the maid had fallen to her knees and begged
Gregor's mother to let her go without delay.  It was not very clear
how much she knew of what had happened but she left within a quarter
of an hour, tearfully thanking Gregor's mother for her dismissal as
if she had done her an enormous service.  She even swore
emphatically not to tell anyone the slightest about what had
happened, even though no-one had asked that of her.

Now Gregor's sister also had to help his mother with the cooking;
although that was not so much bother as no-one ate very much.
Gregor often heard how one of them would unsuccessfully urge another
to eat, and receive no more answer than "no thanks, I've had enough"
or something similar.  No-one drank very much either.  His sister
would sometimes ask his father whether he would like a beer, hoping
for the chance to go and fetch it herself.  When his father then
said nothing she would add, so that he would not feel selfish, that
she could send the housekeeper for it, but then his father would
close the matter with a big, loud "No", and no more would be said.

Even before the first day had come to an end, his father had
explained to Gregor's mother and sister what their finances and
prospects were.  Now and then he stood up from the table and took
some receipt or document from the little cash box he had saved from
his business when it had collapsed five years earlier.  Gregor heard
how he opened the complicated lock and then closed it again after he
had taken the item he wanted.  What he heard his father say was some
of the first good news that Gregor heard since he had first been
incarcerated in his room.  He had thought that nothing at all
remained from his father's business, at least he had never told him
anything different, and Gregor had never asked him about it anyway.
Their business misfortune had reduced the family to a state of total
despair, and Gregor's only concern at that time had been to arrange
things so that they could all forget about it as quickly as
possible.  So then he started working especially hard, with a fiery
vigour that raised him from a junior salesman to a travelling
representative almost overnight, bringing with it the chance to earn
money in quite different ways.  Gregor converted his success at work
straight into cash that he could lay on the table at home for the
benefit of his astonished and delighted family.  They had been good
times and they had never come again, at least not with the same
splendour, even though Gregor had later earned so much that he was
in a position to bear the costs of the whole family, and did bear
them.  They had even got used to it, both Gregor and the family,
they took the money with gratitude and he was glad to provide it,
although there was no longer much warm affection given in return.
Gregor only remained close to his sister now.  Unlike him, she was
very fond of music and a gifted and expressive violinist, it was his
secret plan to send her to the conservatory next year even though it
would cause great expense that would have to be made up for in some
other way.  During Gregor's short periods in town, conversation with
his sister would often turn to the conservatory but it was only ever
mentioned as a lovely dream that could never be realised.  Their
parents did not like to hear this innocent talk, but Gregor thought
about it quite hard and decided he would let them know what he
planned with a grand announcement of it on Christmas day.

That was the sort of totally pointless thing that went through his
mind in his present state, pressed upright against the door and
listening.  There were times when he simply became too tired to
continue listening, when his head would fall wearily against the
door and he would pull it up again with a start, as even the
slightest noise he caused would be heard next door and they would
all go silent.  "What's that he's doing now", his father would say
after a while, clearly having gone over to the door, and only then
would the interrupted conversation slowly be taken up again.

When explaining things, his father repeated himself several times,
partly because it was a long time since he had been occupied with
these matters himself and partly because Gregor's mother did not
understand everything the first time.  From these repeated explanations
Gregor learned, to his pleasure, that despite all their misfortunes
there was still some money available from the old days.  It was not
a lot, but it had not been touched in the meantime and some interest
had accumulated.  Besides that, they had not been using up all the
money that Gregor had been bringing home every month, keeping only a
little for himself, so that that, too, had been accumulating.
Behind the door, Gregor nodded with enthusiasm in his pleasure at
this unexpected thrift and caution.  He could actually have used
this surplus money to reduce his father's debt to his boss, and the
day when he could have freed himself from that job would have come
much closer, but now it was certainly better the way his father had
done things.

This money, however, was certainly not enough to enable the family
to live off the interest; it was enough to maintain them for,
perhaps, one or two years, no more.  That's to say, it was money
that should not really be touched but set aside for emergencies;
money to live on had to be earned.  His father was healthy but old,
and lacking in self confidence.  During the five years that he had
not been working - the first holiday in a life that had been full of
strain and no success - he had put on a lot of weight and become
very slow and clumsy.  Would Gregor's elderly mother now have to go
and earn money? She suffered from asthma and it was a strain for her
just to move about the home, every other day would be spent
struggling for breath on the sofa by the open window.  Would his
sister have to go and earn money? She was still a child of
seventeen, her life up till then had been very enviable, consisting
of wearing nice clothes, sleeping late, helping out in the business,
joining in with a few modest pleasures and most of all playing the
violin.  Whenever they began to talk of the need to earn money,
Gregor would always first let go of the door and then throw himself
onto the cool, leather sofa next to it, as he became quite hot with
shame and regret.

He would often lie there the whole night through, not sleeping a
wink but scratching at the leather for hours on end.  Or he might go
to all the effort of pushing a chair to the window, climbing up onto
the sill and, propped up in the chair, leaning on the window to
stare out of it.  He had used to feel a great sense of freedom from
doing this, but doing it now was obviously something more remembered
than experienced,  as what he actually saw in this way was becoming
less distinct every day, even things that were quite near; he had
used to curse the ever-present view of the hospital across the
street, but now he could not see it at all, and if he had not known
that he lived in Charlottenstrasse, which was a quiet street despite
being in the middle of the city, he could have thought that he was
looking out the window at a barren waste where the grey sky and the
grey earth mingled inseparably.  His observant sister only needed to
notice the chair twice before she would always push it back to its
exact position by the window after she had tidied up the room, and
even left the inner pane of the window open from then on.

If Gregor had only been able to speak to his sister and thank her
for all that she had to do for him it would have been easier for him
to bear it; but as it was it caused him pain.  His sister,
naturally, tried as far as possible to pretend there was nothing
burdensome about it, and the longer it went on, of course, the
better she was able to do so, but as time went by Gregor was also
able to see through it all so much better.  It had even become very
unpleasant for him, now, whenever she entered the room.  No sooner
had she come in than she would quickly close the door as a
precaution so that no-one would have to suffer the view into
Gregor's room, then she would go straight to the window and pull it
hurriedly open almost as if she were suffocating.  Even if it was
cold, she would stay at the window breathing deeply for a little
while.  She would alarm Gregor twice a day with this running about
and noise making; he would stay under the couch shivering the whole
while, knowing full well that she would certainly have liked to
spare him this ordeal, but it was impossible for her to be in the
same room with him with the windows closed.

One day, about a month after Gregor's transformation when his sister
no longer had any particular reason to be shocked at his appearance,
she came into the room a little earlier than usual and found him
still staring out the window, motionless, and just where he would be
most horrible.  In itself, his sister's not coming into the room
would have been no surprise for Gregor as it would have been
difficult for her to immediately open the window while he was still
there, but not only did she not come in, she went straight back and
closed the door behind her, a stranger would have thought he had
threatened her and tried to bite her.  Gregor went straight to hide
himself under the couch, of course, but he had to wait until midday
before his sister came back and she seemed much more uneasy than
usual.  It made him realise that she still found his appearance
unbearable and would continue to do so, she probably even had to
overcome the urge to flee when she saw the little bit of him that
protruded from under the couch.  One day, in order to spare her even
this sight, he spent four hours carrying the bedsheet over to the
couch on his back and arranged it so that he was completely covered
and his sister would not be able to see him even if she bent down.
If she did not think this sheet was necessary then all she had to do
was take it off again, as it was clear enough that it was no
pleasure for Gregor to cut himself off so completely.  She left the
sheet where it was.  Gregor even thought he glimpsed a look of
gratitude one time when he carefully looked out from under the sheet
to see how his sister liked the new arrangement.

For the first fourteen days, Gregor's parents could not bring
themselves to come into the room to see him.  He would often hear
them say how they appreciated all the new work his sister was doing
even though, before, they had seen her as a girl who was somewhat
useless and frequently been annoyed with her.  But now the two of
them, father and mother, would often both wait outside the door of
Gregor's room while his sister tidied up in there, and as soon as
she went out again she would have to tell them exactly how
everything looked, what Gregor had eaten, how he had behaved this
time and whether, perhaps, any slight improvement could be seen.
His mother also wanted to go in and visit Gregor relatively soon but
his father and sister at first persuaded her against it.  Gregor
listened very closely to all this, and approved fully.  Later,
though, she had to be held back by force, which made her call out:
"Let me go and see Gregor, he is my unfortunate son! Can't you
understand I have to see him?", and Gregor would think to himself
that maybe it would be better if his mother came in, not every day
of course, but one day a week, perhaps; she could understand
everything much better than his sister who, for all her courage, was
still just a child after all, and really might not have had an
adult's appreciation of the burdensome job she had taken on.

Gregor's wish to see his mother was soon realised.  Out of
consideration for his parents, Gregor wanted to avoid being seen at
the window during the day, the few square meters of the floor did
not give him much room to crawl about, it was hard to just lie
quietly through the night, his food soon stopped giving him any
pleasure at all, and so, to entertain himself, he got into the habit
of crawling up and down the walls and ceiling.  He was especially
fond of hanging from the ceiling; it was quite different from lying
on the floor; he could breathe more freely; his body had a light
swing to it; and up there, relaxed and almost happy, it might happen
that he would surprise even himself by letting go of the ceiling and
landing on the floor with a crash.  But now, of course, he had far
better control of his body than before and, even with a fall as
great as that, caused himself no damage.  Very soon his sister
noticed Gregor's new way of entertaining himself - he had, after
all, left traces of the adhesive from his feet as he crawled about -
and got it into her head to make it as easy as possible for him by
removing the furniture that got in his way, especially the chest of
drawers and the desk.  Now, this was not something that she would be
able to do by herself; she did not dare to ask for help from her
father; the sixteen year old maid had carried on bravely since the
cook had left but she certainly would not have helped in this, she
had even asked to be allowed to keep the kitchen locked at all times
and never to have to open the door unless it was especially
important; so his sister had no choice but to choose some time when
Gregor's father was not there and fetch his mother to help her.  As
she approached the room, Gregor could hear his mother express her
joy, but once at the door she went silent.  First, of course, his
sister came in and looked round to see that everything in the room
was alright; and only then did she let her mother enter.  Gregor had
hurriedly pulled the sheet down lower over the couch and put more
folds into it so that everything really looked as if it had just
been thrown down by chance.  Gregor also refrained, this time, from
spying out from under the sheet; he gave up the chance to see his
mother until later and was simply glad that she had come.  "You can
come in, he can't be seen", said his sister, obviously leading her
in by the hand.  The old chest of drawers was too heavy for a pair
of feeble women to be heaving about, but Gregor listened as they
pushed it from its place, his sister always taking on the heaviest
part of the work for herself and ignoring her mother's warnings that
she would strain herself.  This lasted a very long time.  After
labouring at it for fifteen minutes or more his mother said it would
be better to leave the chest where it was, for one thing it was too
heavy for them to get the job finished before Gregor's father got
home and leaving it in the middle of the room it would be in his way
even more, and for another thing it wasn't even sure that taking the
furniture away would really be any help to him.  She thought just
the opposite; the sight of the bare walls saddened her right to her
heart; and why wouldn't Gregor feel the same way about it, he'd been
used to this furniture in his room for a long time and it would make
him feel abandoned to be in an empty room like that.  Then, quietly,
almost whispering as if wanting Gregor (whose whereabouts she did
not know) to hear not even the tone of her voice, as she was
convinced that he did not understand her words, she added "and by
taking the furniture away, won't it seem like we're showing that
we've given up all hope of improvement and we're abandoning him to
cope for himself? I think it'd be best to leave the room exactly the
way it was before so that when Gregor comes back to us again he'll
find everything unchanged and he'll be able to forget the time in
between all the easier".

Hearing these words from his mother made Gregor realise that the
lack of any direct human communication, along with the monotonous
life led by the family during these two months, must have made him
confused - he could think of no other way of explaining to himself
why he had seriously wanted his room emptied out.  Had he really
wanted to transform his room into a cave, a warm room fitted out
with the nice furniture he had inherited? That would have let him
crawl around unimpeded in any direction, but it would also have let
him quickly forget his past when he had still been human.  He had
come very close to forgetting, and it had only been the voice of his
mother, unheard for so long, that had shaken him out of it.  Nothing
should be removed; everything had to stay; he could not do without
the good influence the furniture had on his condition; and if the
furniture made it difficult for him to crawl about mindlessly that
was not a loss but a great advantage.

His sister, unfortunately, did not agree; she had become used to the
idea, not without reason, that she was Gregor's spokesman to his
parents about the things that concerned him.  This meant that his
mother's advice now was sufficient reason for her to insist on
removing not only the chest of drawers and the desk, as she had
thought at first, but all the furniture apart from the all-important
couch.  It was more than childish perversity, of course, or the
unexpected confidence she had recently acquired, that made her
insist; she had indeed noticed that Gregor needed a lot of room to
crawl about in, whereas the furniture, as far as anyone could see,
was of no use to him at all.  Girls of that age, though, do become
enthusiastic about things and feel they must get their way whenever
they can.  Perhaps this was what tempted Grete to make Gregor's
situation seem even more shocking than it was so that she could do
even more for him.  Grete would probably be the only one who would
dare enter a room dominated by Gregor crawling about the bare walls
by himself.

So she refused to let her mother dissuade her.  Gregor's mother
already looked uneasy in his room, she soon stopped speaking and
helped Gregor's sister to get the chest of drawers out with what
strength she had.  The chest of drawers was something that Gregor
could do without if he had to, but the writing desk had to stay.
Hardly had the two women pushed the chest of drawers, groaning, out
of the room than Gregor poked his head out from under the couch to
see what he could do about it.  He meant to be as careful and
considerate as he could, but, unfortunately, it was his mother who
came back first while Grete in the next room had her arms round the
chest, pushing and pulling at it from side to side by herself
without, of course, moving it an inch.  His mother was not used to
the sight of Gregor, he might have made her ill, so Gregor hurried
backwards to the far end of the couch.  In his startlement, though,
he was not able to prevent the sheet at its front from moving a
little.  It was enough to attract his mother's attention.  She stood
very still, remained there a moment, and then went back out to

Gregor kept trying to assure himself that nothing unusual was
happening, it was just a few pieces of furniture being moved after
all, but he soon had to admit that the women going to and fro, their
little calls to each other, the scraping of the furniture on the
floor, all these things made him feel as if he were being assailed
from all sides.  With his head and legs pulled in against him and
his body pressed to the floor, he was forced to admit to himself
that he could not stand all of this much longer.  They were emptying
his room out; taking away everything that was dear to him; they had
already taken out the chest containing his fretsaw and other tools;
now they threatened to remove the writing desk with its place
clearly worn into the floor, the desk where he had done his homework
as a business trainee, at high school, even while he had been at
infant school--he really could not wait any longer to see whether
the two women's intentions were good.  He had nearly forgotten they
were there anyway, as they were now too tired to say anything while
they worked and he could only hear their feet as they stepped
heavily on the floor.

So, while the women were leant against the desk in the other room
catching their breath, he sallied out, changed direction four times
not knowing what he should save first before his attention was
suddenly caught by the picture on the wall - which was already
denuded of everything else that had been on it - of the lady dressed
in copious fur.  He hurried up onto the picture and pressed himself
against its glass, it held him firmly and felt good on his hot
belly.  This picture at least, now totally covered by Gregor, would
certainly be taken away by no-one.  He turned his head to face the
door into the living room so that he could watch the women when they
came back.

They had not allowed themselves a long rest and came back quite
soon; Grete had put her arm around her mother and was nearly
carrying her.  "What shall we take now, then?", said Grete and
looked around.  Her eyes met those of Gregor on the wall.  Perhaps
only because her mother was there, she remained calm, bent her face
to her so that she would not look round and said, albeit hurriedly
and with a tremor in her voice: "Come on, let's go back in the
living room for a while?"  Gregor could see what Grete had in mind,
she wanted to take her mother somewhere safe and then chase him down
from the wall.  Well, she could certainly try it! He sat unyielding
on his picture.  He would rather jump at Grete's face.

But Grete's words had made her mother quite worried, she stepped to
one side, saw the enormous brown patch against the flowers of the
wallpaper, and before she even realised it was Gregor that she saw
screamed: "Oh God, oh God!"  Arms outstretched, she fell onto the
couch as if she had given up everything and stayed there immobile.
"Gregor!" shouted his sister, glowering at him and shaking her fist.
 That was the first word she had spoken to him directly since his
transformation.  She ran into the other room to fetch some kind of
smelling salts to bring her mother out of her faint; Gregor wanted
to help too - he could save his picture later, although he stuck
fast to the glass and had to pull himself off by force; then he,
too, ran into the next room as if he could advise his sister like in
the old days; but he had to just stand behind her doing nothing; she
was looking into various bottles, he startled her when she turned
round; a bottle fell to the ground and broke; a splinter cut
Gregor's face, some kind of caustic medicine splashed all over him;
now, without delaying any longer, Grete took hold of all the bottles
she could and ran with them in to her mother; she slammed the door
shut with her foot.  So now Gregor was shut out from his mother,
who, because of him, might be near to death; he could not open the
door if he did not want to chase his sister away, and she had to
stay with his mother; there was nothing for him to do but wait; and,
oppressed with anxiety and self-reproach, he began to crawl about,
he crawled over everything, walls, furniture, ceiling, and finally
in his confusion as the whole room began to spin around him he fell
down into the middle of the dinner table.

He lay there for a while, numb and immobile, all around him it was
quiet, maybe that was a good sign.  Then there was someone at the
door.  The maid, of course, had locked herself in her kitchen so
that Grete would have to go and answer it.  His father had arrived
home.  "What's happened?" were his first words; Grete's appearance
must have made everything clear to him.  She answered him with
subdued voice, and openly pressed her face into his chest: "Mother's
fainted, but she's better now.  Gregor got out."  "Just as I
expected", said his father, "just as I always said, but you women
wouldn't listen, would you."  It was clear to Gregor that Grete had
not said enough and that his father took it to mean that something
bad had happened, that he was responsible for some act of violence.
That meant Gregor would now have to try to calm his father, as he
did not have the time to explain things to him even if that had been
possible.  So he fled to the door of his room and pressed himself
against it so that his father, when he came in from the hall, could
see straight away that Gregor had the best intentions and would go
back into his room without delay, that it would not be necessary to
drive him back but that they had only to open the door and he would

His father, though, was not in the mood to notice subtleties like
that; "Ah!", he shouted as he came in, sounding as if he were both
angry and glad at the same time.  Gregor drew his head back from the
door and lifted it towards his father.  He really had not imagined
his father the way he stood there now; of late, with his new habit
of crawling about, he had neglected to pay attention to what was
going on the rest of the flat the way he had done before.  He really
ought to have expected things to have changed, but still, still, was
that really his father? The same tired man as used to be laying
there entombed in his bed when Gregor came back from his business
trips, who would receive him sitting in the armchair in his
nightgown when he came back in the evenings; who was hardly even
able to stand up but, as a sign of his pleasure, would just raise
his arms and who, on the couple of times a year when they went for a
walk together on a Sunday or public holiday wrapped up tightly in
his overcoat between Gregor and his mother, would always labour his
way forward a little more slowly than them, who were already walking
slowly for his sake; who would place his stick down carefully and,
if he wanted to say something would invariably stop and gather his
companions around him.  He was standing up straight enough now;
dressed in a smart blue uniform with gold buttons, the sort worn by
the employees at the banking institute; above the high, stiff collar
of the coat his strong double-chin emerged; under the bushy
eyebrows, his piercing, dark eyes looked out fresh and alert; his
normally unkempt white hair was combed down painfully close to his
scalp.  He took his cap, with its gold monogram from, probably, some
bank, and threw it in an arc right across the room onto the sofa,
put his hands in his trouser pockets, pushing back the bottom of his
long uniform coat, and, with look of determination, walked towards
Gregor.  He probably did not even know himself what he had in mind,
but nonetheless lifted his feet unusually high.  Gregor was amazed
at the enormous size of the soles of his boots, but wasted no time
with that - he knew full well, right from the first day of his new
life, that his father thought it necessary to always be extremely
strict with him.  And so he ran up to his father, stopped when his
father stopped, scurried forwards again when he moved, even
slightly.  In this way they went round the room several times
without anything decisive happening, without even giving the
impression of a chase as everything went so slowly.  Gregor remained
all this time on the floor, largely because he feared his father
might see it as especially provoking if he fled onto the wall or
ceiling.  Whatever he did, Gregor had to admit that he certainly
would not be able to keep up this running about for long, as for
each step his father took he had to carry out countless movements.
He became noticeably short of breath, even in his earlier life his
lungs had not been very reliable.  Now, as he lurched about in his
efforts to muster all the strength he could for running he could
hardly keep his eyes open; his thoughts became too slow for him to
think of any other way of saving himself than running; he almost
forgot that the walls were there for him to use although, here, they
were concealed behind carefully carved furniture full of notches and
protrusions - then, right beside him, lightly tossed, something flew
down and rolled in front of him.  It was an apple; then another one
immediately flew at him; Gregor froze in shock; there was no longer
any point in running as his father had decided to bombard him.  He
had filled his pockets with fruit from the bowl on the sideboard and
now, without even taking the time for careful aim, threw one apple
after another.  These little, red apples rolled about on the floor,
knocking into each other as if they had electric motors.  An apple
thrown without much force glanced against Gregor's back and slid off
without doing any harm.  Another one however, immediately following
it, hit squarely and lodged in his back; Gregor wanted to drag
himself away, as if he could remove the surprising, the incredible
pain by changing his position; but he felt as if nailed to the spot
and spread himself out, all his senses in confusion.  The last thing
he saw was the door of his room being pulled open, his sister was
screaming, his mother ran out in front of her in her blouse (as his
sister had taken off some of her clothes after she had fainted to
make it easier for her to breathe), she ran to his father, her
skirts unfastened and sliding one after another to the ground,
stumbling over the skirts she pushed herself to his father, her arms
around him, uniting herself with him totally - now Gregor lost his
ability to see anything - her hands behind his father's head begging
him to spare Gregor's life.


No-one dared to remove the apple lodged in Gregor's flesh, so it
remained there as a visible reminder of his injury.  He had suffered
it there for more than a month, and his condition seemed serious
enough to remind even his father that Gregor, despite his current
sad and revolting form, was a family member who could not be treated
as an enemy.  On the contrary, as a family there was a duty to
swallow any revulsion for him and to be patient, just to be patient.

Because of his injuries, Gregor had lost much of his mobility -
probably permanently.  He had been reduced to the condition of an
ancient invalid and it took him long, long minutes to crawl across
his room - crawling over the ceiling was out of the question - but
this deterioration in his condition was fully (in his opinion) made
up for by the door to the living room being left open every evening.
 He got into the habit of closely watching it for one or two hours
before it was opened and then, lying in the darkness of his room
where he could not be seen from the living room, he could watch the
family in the light of the dinner table and listen to their
conversation - with everyone's permission, in a way, and thus quite
differently from before.

They no longer held the lively conversations of earlier times, of
course, the ones that Gregor always thought about with longing when
he was tired and getting into the damp bed in some small hotel room.
 All of them were usually very quiet nowadays.  Soon after dinner,
his father would go to sleep in his chair; his mother and sister
would urge each other to be quiet; his mother, bent deeply under the
lamp, would sew fancy underwear for a fashion shop; his sister, who
had taken a sales job, learned shorthand and French in the evenings
so that she might be able to get a better position later on.
Sometimes his father would wake up and say to Gregor's mother
"you're doing so much sewing again today!", as if he did not know
that he had been dozing - and then he would go back to sleep again
while mother and sister would exchange a tired grin.

With a kind of stubbornness, Gregor's father refused to take his
uniform off even at home; while his nightgown hung unused on its peg
Gregor's father would slumber where he was, fully dressed, as if
always ready to serve and expecting to hear the voice of his
superior even here.  The uniform had not been new to start with, but
as a result of this it slowly became even shabbier despite the
efforts of Gregor's mother and sister to look after it.  Gregor
would often spend the whole evening looking at all the stains on
this coat, with its gold buttons always kept polished and shiny,
while the old man in it would sleep, highly uncomfortable but

As soon as it struck ten, Gregor's mother would speak gently to his
father to wake him and try to persuade him to go to bed, as he
couldn't sleep properly where he was and he really had to get his
sleep if he was to be up at six to get to work.  But since he had
been in work he had become more obstinate and would always insist on
staying longer at the table, even though he regularly fell asleep
and it was then harder than ever to persuade him to exchange the
chair for his bed.  Then, however much mother and sister would
importune him with little reproaches and warnings he would keep
slowly shaking his head for a quarter of an hour with his eyes
closed and refusing to get up.  Gregor's mother would tug at his
sleeve, whisper endearments into his ear, Gregor's sister would
leave her work to help her mother, but nothing would have any effect
on him.  He would just sink deeper into his chair.  Only when the
two women took him under the arms he would abruptly open his eyes,
look at them one after the other and say: "What a life! This is what
peace I get in my old age!"  And supported by the two women he would
lift himself up carefully as if he were carrying the greatest load
himself, let the women take him to the door, send them off and carry
on by himself while Gregor's mother would throw down her needle and
his sister her pen so that they could run after his father and
continue being of help to him.

Who, in this tired and overworked family, would have had time to
give more attention to Gregor than was absolutely necessary? The
household budget became even smaller; so now the maid was dismissed;
an enormous, thick-boned charwoman with white hair that flapped
around her head came every morning and evening to do the heaviest
work; everything else was looked after by Gregor's mother on top of
the large amount of sewing work she did.  Gregor even learned,
listening to the evening conversation about what price they had
hoped for, that several items of jewellery belonging to the family
had been sold, even though both mother and sister had been very fond
of wearing them at functions and celebrations.  But the loudest
complaint was that although the flat was much too big for their
present circumstances, they could not move out of it, there was no
imaginable way of transferring Gregor to the new address.  He could
see quite well, though, that there were more reasons than
consideration for him that made it difficult for them to move, it
would have been quite easy to transport him in any suitable crate
with a few air holes in it; the main thing holding the family back
from their decision to move was much more to do with their total
despair, and the thought that they had been struck with a misfortune
unlike anything experienced by anyone else they knew or were related
to.  They carried out absolutely everything that the world expects
from poor people, Gregor's father brought bank employees their
breakfast, his mother sacrificed herself by washing clothes for
strangers, his sister ran back and forth behind her desk at the
behest of the customers, but they just did not have the strength to
do any more.  And the injury in Gregor's back began to hurt as much
as when it was new.  After they had come back from taking his father
to bed Gregor's mother and sister would now leave their work where
it was and sit close together, cheek to cheek; his mother would
point to Gregor's room and say "Close that door, Grete", and then,
when he was in the dark again, they would sit in the next room and
their tears would mingle, or they would simply sit there staring
dry-eyed at the table.

Gregor hardly slept at all, either night or day.  Sometimes he would
think of taking over the family's affairs, just like before, the
next time the door was opened; he had long forgotten about his boss
and the chief clerk, but they would appear again in his thoughts,
the salesmen and the apprentices, that stupid teaboy, two or three
friends from other businesses, one of the chambermaids from a
provincial hotel, a tender memory that appeared and disappeared
again, a cashier from a hat shop for whom his attention had been
serious but too slow, - all of them appeared to him, mixed together
with strangers and others he had forgotten, but instead of helping
him and his family they were all of them inaccessible, and he was
glad when they disappeared.  Other times he was not at all in the
mood to look after his family, he was filled with simple rage about
the lack of attention he was shown, and although he could think of
nothing he would have wanted, he made plans of how he could get into
the pantry where he could take all the things he was entitled to,
even if he was not hungry.  Gregor's sister no longer thought about
how she could please him but would hurriedly push some food or other
into his room with her foot before she rushed out to work in the
morning and at midday, and in the evening she would sweep it away
again with the broom, indifferent as to whether it had been eaten or
- more often than not - had been left totally untouched.  She still
cleared up the room in the evening, but now she could not have been
any quicker about it.  Smears of dirt were left on the walls, here
and there were little balls of dust and filth.  At first, Gregor
went into one of the worst of these places when his sister arrived
as a reproach to her, but he could have stayed there for weeks
without his sister doing anything about it; she could see the dirt
as well as he could but she had simply decided to leave him to it.
At the same time she became touchy in a way that was quite new for
her and which everyone in the family understood - cleaning up
Gregor's room was for her and her alone.  Gregor's mother did once
thoroughly clean his room, and needed to use several bucketfuls of
water to do it - although that much dampness also made Gregor ill
and he lay flat on the couch, bitter and immobile.  But his mother
was to be punished still more for what she had done, as hardly had
his sister arrived home in the evening than she noticed the change
in Gregor's room and, highly aggrieved, ran back into the living
room where, despite her mothers raised and imploring hands, she
broke into convulsive tears.  Her father, of course, was startled
out of his chair and the two parents looked on astonished and
helpless; then they, too, became agitated; Gregor's father, standing
to the right of his mother, accused her of not leaving the cleaning
of Gregor's room to his sister; from her left, Gregor's sister
screamed at her that she was never to clean Gregor's room again;
while his mother tried to draw his father, who was beside himself
with anger, into the bedroom; his sister, quaking with tears,
thumped on the table with her small fists; and Gregor hissed in
anger that no-one had even thought of closing the door to save him
the sight of this and all its noise.

Gregor's sister was exhausted from going out to work, and looking
after Gregor as she had done before was even more work for her, but
even so his mother ought certainly not to have taken her place.
Gregor, on the other hand, ought not to be neglected.  Now, though,
the charwoman was here.  This elderly widow, with a robust bone
structure that made her able to withstand the hardest of things in
her long life, wasn't really repelled by Gregor.  Just by chance one
day, rather than any real curiosity, she opened the door to Gregor's
room and found herself face to face with him.  He was taken totally
by surprise, no-one was chasing him but he began to rush to and fro
while she just stood there in amazement with her hands crossed in
front of her.  From then on she never failed to open the door
slightly every evening and morning and look briefly in on him.  At
first she would call to him as she did so with words that she
probably considered friendly, such as "come on then, you old
dung-beetle!", or "look at the old dung-beetle there!"  Gregor never
responded to being spoken to in that way, but just remained where he
was without moving as if the door had never even been opened.  If
only they had told this charwoman to clean up his room every day
instead of letting her disturb him for no reason whenever she felt
like it! One day, early in the morning while a heavy rain struck the
windowpanes, perhaps indicating that spring was coming, she began to
speak to him in that way once again.  Gregor was so resentful of it
that he started to move toward her, he was slow and infirm, but it
was like a kind of attack.  Instead of being afraid, the charwoman
just lifted up one of the chairs from near the door and stood there
with her mouth open, clearly intending not to close her mouth until
the chair in her hand had been slammed down into Gregor's back.
"Aren't you coming any closer, then?", she asked when Gregor turned
round again, and she calmly put the chair back in the corner.

Gregor had almost entirely stopped eating.  Only if he happened to
find himself next to the food that had been prepared for him he
might take some of it into his mouth to play with it, leave it there
a few hours and then, more often than not, spit it out again.  At
first he thought it was distress at the state of his room that
stopped him eating, but he had soon got used to the changes made
there.  They had got into the habit of putting things into this room
that they had no room for anywhere else, and there were now many
such things as one of the rooms in the flat had been rented out to
three gentlemen.  These earnest gentlemen - all three of them had
full beards, as Gregor learned peering through the crack in the door
one day - were painfully insistent on things' being tidy.  This
meant not only in their own room but, since they had taken a room in
this establishment, in the entire flat and especially in the
kitchen.  Unnecessary clutter was something they could not tolerate,
especially if it was dirty.  They had moreover brought most of their
own furnishings and equipment with them.  For this reason, many
things had become superfluous which, although they could not be
sold, the family did not wish to discard.  All these things found
their way into Gregor's room.  The dustbins from the kitchen found
their way in there too.  The charwoman was always in a hurry, and
anything she couldn't use for the time being she would just chuck in
there.  He, fortunately, would usually see no more than the object
and the hand that held it.  The woman most likely meant to fetch the
things back out again when she had time and the opportunity, or to
throw everything out in one go, but what actually happened was that
they were left where they landed when they had first been thrown
unless Gregor made his way through the junk and moved it somewhere
else.  At first he moved it because, with no other room free where
he could crawl about, he was forced to, but later on he came to
enjoy it although moving about in that way left him sad and tired to
death, and he would remain immobile for hours afterwards.

The gentlemen who rented the room would sometimes take their evening
meal at home in the living room that was used by everyone, and so
the door to this room was often kept closed in the evening.  But
Gregor found it easy to give up having the door open, he had, after
all, often failed to make use of it when it was open and, without
the family having noticed it, lain in his room in its darkest
corner.  One time, though, the charwoman left the door to the living
room slightly open, and it remained open when the gentlemen who
rented the room came in in the evening and the light was put on.
They sat up at the table where, formerly, Gregor had taken his meals
with his father and mother, they unfolded the serviettes and picked
up their knives and forks.  Gregor's mother immediately appeared in
the doorway with a dish of meat and soon behind her came his sister
with a dish piled high with potatoes.  The food was steaming, and
filled the room with its smell.  The gentlemen bent over the dishes
set in front of them as if they wanted to test the food before
eating it, and the gentleman in the middle, who seemed to count as
an authority for the other two, did indeed cut off a piece of meat
while it was still in its dish, clearly wishing to establish whether
it was sufficiently cooked or whether it should be sent back to the
kitchen.  It was to his satisfaction, and Gregor's mother and
sister, who had been looking on anxiously, began to breathe again
and smiled.

The family themselves ate in the kitchen.  Nonetheless, Gregor's
father came into the living room before he went into the kitchen,
bowed once with his cap in his hand and did his round of the table.
The gentlemen stood as one, and mumbled something into their beards.
 Then, once they were alone, they ate in near perfect silence.  It
seemed remarkable to Gregor that above all the various noises of
eating their chewing teeth could still be heard, as if they had
wanted to show Gregor that you need teeth in order to eat and it was
not possible to perform anything with jaws that are toothless
however nice they might be.  "I'd like to eat something", said
Gregor anxiously, "but not anything like they're eating.  They do
feed themselves.  And here I am, dying!"

Throughout all this time, Gregor could not remember having heard the
violin being played, but this evening it began to be heard from the
kitchen.  The three gentlemen had already finished their meal, the
one in the middle had produced a newspaper, given a page to each of
the others, and now they leant back in their chairs reading them and
smoking.  When the violin began playing they became attentive, stood
up and went on tip-toe over to the door of the hallway where they
stood pressed against each other.  Someone must have heard them in
the kitchen, as Gregor's father called out: "Is the playing perhaps
unpleasant for the gentlemen? We can stop it straight away."  "On
the contrary", said the middle gentleman, "would the young lady not
like to come in and play for us here in the room, where it is, after
all, much more cosy and comfortable?"  "Oh yes, we'd love to",
called back Gregor's father as if he had been the violin player
himself.  The gentlemen stepped back into the room and waited.
Gregor's father soon appeared with the music stand, his mother with
the music and his sister with the violin.  She calmly prepared
everything for her to begin playing; his parents, who had never
rented a room out before and therefore showed an exaggerated
courtesy towards the three gentlemen, did not even dare to sit on
their own chairs; his father leant against the door with his right
hand pushed in between two buttons on his uniform coat; his mother,
though, was offered a seat by one of the gentlemen and sat - leaving
the chair where the gentleman happened to have placed it - out of
the way in a corner.

His sister began to play; father and mother paid close attention,
one on each side, to the movements of her hands.  Drawn in by the
playing, Gregor had dared to come forward a little and already had
his head in the living room.  Before, he had taken great pride in
how considerate he was but now it hardly occurred to him that he had
become so thoughtless about the others.  What's more, there was now
all the more reason to keep himself hidden as he was covered in the
dust that lay everywhere in his room and flew up at the slightest
movement; he carried threads, hairs, and remains of food about on
his back and sides; he was much too indifferent to everything now to
lay on his back and wipe himself on the carpet like he had used to
do several times a day.  And despite this condition, he was not too
shy to move forward a little onto the immaculate floor of the living

No-one noticed him, though.  The family was totally preoccupied with
the violin playing; at first, the three gentlemen had put their
hands in their pockets and come up far too close behind the music
stand to look at all the notes being played, and they must have
disturbed Gregor's sister, but soon, in contrast with the family,
they  withdrew back to the window with their heads sunk and talking
to each other at half volume, and they stayed by the window while
Gregor's father observed them anxiously.  It really now seemed very
obvious that they had expected to hear some beautiful or
entertaining violin playing but had been disappointed, that they had
had enough of the whole performance and it was only now out of
politeness that they allowed their peace to be disturbed.  It was
especially unnerving, the way they all blew the smoke from their
cigarettes upwards from their mouth and noses.  Yet Gregor's sister
was playing so beautifully.  Her face was leant to one side,
following the lines of music with a careful and melancholy
expression.  Gregor crawled a little further forward, keeping his
head close to the ground so that he could meet her eyes if the
chance came.  Was he an animal if music could captivate him so? It
seemed to him that he was being shown the way to the unknown
nourishment he had been yearning for.  He was determined to make his
way forward to his sister and tug at her skirt to show her she might
come into his room with her violin, as no-one appreciated her
playing here as much as he would.  He never wanted to let her out of
his room, not while he lived, anyway; his shocking appearance
should, for once, be of some use to him; he wanted to be at every
door of his room at once to hiss and spit at the attackers; his
sister should not be forced to stay with him, though, but stay of
her own free will; she would sit beside him on the couch with her
ear bent down to him while he told her how he had always intended to
send her to the conservatory, how he would have told everyone about
it last Christmas - had Christmas really come and gone already? - if
this misfortune hadn't got in the way, and refuse to let anyone
dissuade him from it.  On hearing all this, his sister would break
out in tears of emotion, and Gregor would climb up to her shoulder
and kiss her neck, which, since she had been going out to work, she
had kept free without any necklace or collar.

"Mr. Samsa!", shouted the middle gentleman to Gregor's father,
pointing, without wasting any more words, with his forefinger at
Gregor as he slowly moved forward.  The violin went silent, the
middle of the three gentlemen first smiled at his two friends,
shaking his head, and then looked back at Gregor.  His father seemed
to think it more important to calm the three gentlemen before
driving Gregor out, even though they were not at all upset and
seemed to think Gregor was more entertaining than the violin playing
had been.  He rushed up to them with his arms spread out and
attempted to drive them back into their room at the same time as
trying to block their view of Gregor with his body.  Now they did
become a little annoyed, and it was not clear whether it was his
father's behaviour that annoyed them or the dawning realisation that
they had had a neighbour like Gregor in the next room without
knowing it.  They asked Gregor's father for explanations, raised
their arms like he had, tugged excitedly at their beards and moved
back towards their room only very slowly.  Meanwhile Gregor's sister
had overcome the despair she had fallen into when her playing was
suddenly interrupted.  She had let her hands drop and let violin and
bow hang limply for a while but continued to look at the music as if
still playing, but then she suddenly pulled herself together, lay
the instrument on her mother's lap who still sat laboriously
struggling for breath where she was, and ran into the next room
which, under pressure from her father, the three gentlemen were more
quickly moving toward.  Under his sister's experienced hand, the
pillows and covers on the beds flew up and were put into order and
she had already finished making the beds and slipped out again
before the three gentlemen had reached the room.  Gregor's father
seemed so obsessed with what he was doing that he forgot all the
respect he owed to his tenants.  He urged them and pressed them
until, when he was already at the door of the room, the middle of
the three gentlemen shouted like thunder and stamped his foot and
thereby brought Gregor's father to a halt.  "I declare here and
now", he said, raising his hand and glancing at Gregor's mother and
sister to gain their attention too, "that with regard to the
repugnant conditions that prevail in this flat and with this family"
- here he looked briefly but decisively at the floor - "I give
immediate notice on my room.  For the days that I have been living
here I will, of course, pay nothing at all, on the contrary I will
consider whether to proceed with some kind of action for damages
from you, and believe me it would be very easy to set out the
grounds for such an action."  He was silent and looked straight
ahead as if waiting for something.  And indeed, his two friends
joined in with the words: "And we also give immediate notice."  With
that, he took hold of the door handle and slammed the door.

Gregor's father staggered back to his seat, feeling his way with his
hands, and fell into it; it looked as if he was stretching himself
out for his usual evening nap but from the uncontrolled way his head
kept nodding it could be seen that he was not sleeping at all.
Throughout all this, Gregor had lain still where the three gentlemen
had first seen him.  His disappointment at the failure of his plan,
and perhaps also because he was weak from hunger, made it impossible
for him to move.  He was sure that everyone would turn on him any
moment, and he waited.  He was not even startled out of this state
when the violin on his mother's lap fell from her trembling fingers
and landed loudly on the floor.

"Father, Mother", said his sister, hitting the table with her hand
as introduction, "we can't carry on like this.  Maybe you can't see
it, but I can.  I don't want to call this monster my brother, all I
can say is: we have to try and get rid of it.  We've done all that's
humanly possible to look after it and be patient, I don't think
anyone could accuse us of doing anything wrong."

"She's absolutely right", said Gregor's father to himself.  His
mother, who still had not had time to catch her breath, began to
cough dully, her hand held out in front of her and a deranged
expression in her eyes.

Gregor's sister rushed to his mother and put her hand on her
forehead.  Her words seemed to give Gregor's father some more
definite ideas.  He sat upright, played with his uniform cap between
the plates left by the three gentlemen after their meal, and
occasionally looked down at Gregor as he lay there immobile.

"We have to try and get rid of it", said Gregor's sister, now
speaking only to her father, as her mother was too occupied with
coughing to listen, "it'll be the death of both of you, I can see it
coming.  We can't all work as hard as we have to and then come home
to be tortured like this, we can't endure it.  I can't endure it any
more."  And she broke out so heavily in tears that they flowed down
the face of her mother, and she wiped them away with mechanical hand

"My child", said her father with sympathy and obvious understanding,
"what are we to do?"

His sister just shrugged her shoulders as a sign of the helplessness
and tears that had taken hold of her, displacing her earlier

"If he could just understand us", said his father almost as a
question; his sister shook her hand vigorously through her tears as
a sign that of that there was no question.

"If he could just understand us", repeated Gregor's father, closing
his eyes in acceptance of his sister's certainty that that was quite
impossible, "then perhaps we could come to some kind of arrangement
with him.  But as it is ..."

"It's got to go", shouted his sister, "that's the only way, Father.
You've got to get rid of the idea that that's Gregor.  We've only
harmed ourselves by believing it for so long.  How can that be
Gregor? If it were Gregor he would have seen long ago that it's not
possible for human beings to live with an animal like that and he
would have gone of his own free will.  We wouldn't have a brother
any more, then, but we could carry on with our lives and remember
him with respect.  As it is this animal is persecuting us, it's
driven out our tenants, it obviously wants to take over the whole
flat and force us to sleep on the streets.  Father, look, just
look", she suddenly screamed, "he's starting again!"   In her alarm,
which was totally beyond Gregor's comprehension, his sister even
abandoned his mother as she pushed herself vigorously out of her
chair as if more willing to sacrifice her own mother than stay
anywhere near Gregor.  She rushed over to behind her father, who had
become excited merely because she was and stood up half raising his
hands in front of Gregor's sister as if to protect her.

But Gregor had had no intention of frightening anyone, least of all
his sister.  All he had done was begin to turn round so that he
could go back into his room, although that was in itself quite
startling as his pain-wracked condition meant that turning round
required a great deal of effort and he was using his head to help
himself do it, repeatedly raising it and striking it against the
floor.  He stopped and looked round.  They seemed to have realised
his good intention and had only been alarmed briefly.  Now they all
looked at him in unhappy silence.  His mother lay in her chair with
her legs stretched out and pressed against each other, her eyes
nearly closed with exhaustion; his sister sat next to his father
with her arms around his neck.

"Maybe now they'll let me turn round", thought Gregor and went back
to work.  He could not help panting loudly with the effort and had
sometimes to stop and take a rest.  No-one was making him rush any
more, everything was left up to him.  As soon as he had finally
finished turning round he began to move straight ahead.  He was
amazed at the great distance that separated him from his room, and
could not understand how he had covered that distance in his weak
state a little while before and almost without noticing it.  He
concentrated on crawling as fast as he could and hardly noticed that
there was not a word, not any cry, from his family to distract him.
He did not turn his head until he had reached the doorway.  He did
not turn it all the way round as he felt his neck becoming stiff,
but it was nonetheless enough to see that nothing behind him had
changed, only his sister had stood up.  With his last glance he saw
that his mother had now fallen completely asleep.

He was hardly inside his room before the door was hurriedly shut,
bolted and locked.  The sudden noise behind Gregor so startled him
that his little legs collapsed under him.  It was his sister who had
been in so much of a rush.  She had been standing there waiting and
sprung forward lightly, Gregor had not heard her coming at all, and
as she turned the key in the lock she said loudly to her parents "At

"What now, then?", Gregor asked himself as he looked round in the
darkness.  He soon made the discovery that he could no longer move
at all.  This was no surprise to him, it seemed rather that being
able to actually move around on those spindly little legs until then
was unnatural.  He also felt relatively comfortable.  It is true
that his entire body was aching, but the pain seemed to be slowly
getting weaker and weaker and would finally disappear altogether.
He could already hardly feel the decayed apple in his back or the
inflamed area around it, which was entirely covered in white dust.
He thought back of his family with emotion and love.  If it was
possible, he felt that he must go away even more strongly than his
sister.  He remained in this state of empty and peaceful rumination
until he heard the clock tower strike three in the morning.  He
watched as it slowly began to get light everywhere outside the
window too.  Then, without his willing it, his head sank down
completely, and his last breath flowed weakly from his nostrils.

When the cleaner came in early in the morning - they'd often asked
her not to keep slamming the doors but with her strength and in her
hurry she still did, so that everyone in the flat knew when she'd
arrived and from then on it was impossible to sleep in peace - she
made her usual brief look in on Gregor and at first found nothing
special.  She thought he was laying there so still on purpose,
playing the martyr; she attributed all possible understanding to
him.  She happened to be holding the long broom in her hand, so she
tried to tickle Gregor with it from the doorway.  When she had no
success with that she tried to make a nuisance of herself and poked
at him a little, and only when she found she could shove him across
the floor with no resistance at all did she start to pay attention.
She soon realised what had really happened, opened her eyes wide,
whistled to herself, but did not waste time to yank open the bedroom
doors and shout loudly into the darkness of the bedrooms: "Come and
'ave a look at this, it's dead, just lying there, stone dead!"

Mr. and  Mrs. Samsa sat upright there in their marriage bed and had
to make an effort to get over the shock caused by the cleaner before
they could grasp what she was saying.  But then, each from his own
side, they hurried out of bed.  Mr. Samsa threw the blanket over his
shoulders,  Mrs. Samsa just came out in her nightdress; and that is
how they went into Gregor's room.  On the way they opened the door
to the living room where Grete had been sleeping since the three
gentlemen had moved in; she was fully dressed as if she had never
been asleep, and the paleness of her face seemed to confirm this.
"Dead?", asked  Mrs. Samsa, looking at the charwoman enquiringly,
even though she could have checked for herself and could have known
it even without checking.  "That's what I said",  replied the
cleaner, and to prove it she gave Gregor's body another shove with
the broom, sending it sideways across the floor.  Mrs. Samsa made a
movement as if she wanted to hold back the broom, but did not
complete it.  "Now then", said  Mr. Samsa, "let's give thanks to God
for that". He crossed himself, and the three women followed his
example.  Grete, who had not taken her eyes from the corpse, said:
"Just look how thin he was.  He didn't eat anything for so long.
The food came out again just the same as when it went in". Gregor's
body was indeed completely dried up and flat, they had not seen it
until then, but now he was not lifted up on his little legs, nor did
he do anything to make them look away.

"Grete, come with us in here for a little while", said  Mrs. Samsa
with a pained smile, and Grete followed her parents into the bedroom
but not without looking back at the body.  The cleaner shut the door
and opened the window wide.  Although it was still early in the
morning the fresh air had something of warmth mixed in with it.  It
was already the end of March, after all.

The three gentlemen stepped out of their room and looked round in
amazement for their breakfasts;  they had been forgotten about.
"Where is our breakfast?", the middle gentleman asked the cleaner
irritably.  She just put her finger on her lips and made a quick and
silent sign to the men that they might like to come into Gregor's
room.  They did so, and stood around Gregor's corpse with their
hands in the pockets of their well-worn coats. It was now quite
light in the room.

Then the door of the bedroom opened and  Mr. Samsa appeared in his
uniform with his wife on one arm and his daughter on the other.  All
of them had been crying a little; Grete now and then pressed her
face against her father's arm.

"Leave my home.  Now!", said  Mr. Samsa, indicating the door and
without letting the women from him.  "What do you mean?", asked the
middle of the three gentlemen somewhat disconcerted, and he smiled
sweetly.  The other two held their hands behind their backs and
continually rubbed them together in gleeful anticipation of a loud
quarrel which could only end in their favour.  "I mean just what I
said", answered  Mr. Samsa, and, with his two companions, went in a
straight line towards the man.  At first, he stood there still,
looking at the ground as if the contents of his head were
rearranging themselves into new positions.  "Alright, we'll go
then", he said, and looked up at  Mr. Samsa as if he had been
suddenly overcome with humility and wanted permission again from
Mr. Samsa for his decision.  Mr. Samsa merely opened his eyes wide
and briefly nodded to him several times.  At that, and without
delay, the man actually did take long strides into the front
hallway; his two friends had stopped rubbing their hands some time
before and had been listening to what was being said.  Now they
jumped off after their friend as if taken with a sudden fear that
Mr. Samsa might go into the hallway in front of them and break the
connection with their leader.  Once there, all three took their hats
from the stand, took their sticks from the holder, bowed without a
word and left the premises.  Mr. Samsa and the two women followed
them out onto the landing; but they had had no reason to mistrust
the men's intentions and as they leaned over the landing they saw how
the three gentlemen made slow but steady progress down the many
steps.  As they turned the corner on each floor they disappeared and
would reappear a few moments later; the further down they went, the
more that the Samsa family lost interest in them; when a butcher's
boy, proud of posture with his tray on his head, passed them on his
way up and came nearer than they were,  Mr. Samsa and the women came
away from the landing and went, as if relieved, back into the flat.

They decided the best way to make use of that day was for relaxation
and to go for a walk; not only had they earned a break from work but
they were in serious need of it.  So they sat at the table and wrote
three letters of excusal,  Mr. Samsa to his employers,  Mrs. Samsa
to her contractor and Grete to her principal.  The cleaner came in
while they were writing to tell them she was going, she'd finished
her work for that morning.  The three of them at first just nodded
without looking up from what they were writing, and it was only when
the cleaner still did not seem to want to leave that they looked up
in irritation.  "Well?", asked  Mr. Samsa.  The charwoman stood in
the doorway with a smile on her face as if she had some tremendous
good news to report, but would only do it if she was clearly asked
to.  The almost vertical little ostrich feather on her hat, which
had been a source of irritation to  Mr. Samsa all the time she had
been working for them, swayed gently in all directions.  "What is it
you want then?", asked  Mrs. Samsa, whom the cleaner had the most
respect for.  "Yes", she answered, and broke into a friendly laugh
that made her unable to speak straight away, "well then, that thing
in there, you needn't worry about how you're going to get rid of it.
 That's all been sorted out."   Mrs. Samsa and Grete bent down over
their letters as if intent on continuing with what they were
writing;  Mr. Samsa saw that the cleaner wanted to start describing
everything in detail but, with outstretched hand, he made it quite
clear that she was not to.  So, as she was prevented from telling
them all about it, she suddenly remembered what a hurry she was in
and, clearly peeved, called out "Cheerio then, everyone", turned
round sharply and left, slamming the door terribly as she went.

"Tonight she gets sacked", said  Mr. Samsa, but he received no reply
from either his wife or his daughter as the charwoman seemed to have
destroyed the peace they had only just gained.  They got up and went
over to the window where they remained with their arms around each
other.  Mr. Samsa twisted round in his chair to look at them and sat
there watching for a while.  Then he called out: "Come here, then.
Let's forget about all that old stuff, shall we.  Come and give me a
bit of attention". The two women immediately did as he said,
hurrying over to him where they kissed him and hugged him and then
they quickly finished their letters.

After that, the three of them left the flat together, which was
something they had not done for months, and took the tram out to the
open country outside the town.  They had the tram, filled with warm
sunshine, all to themselves.  Leant back comfortably on their seats,
they discussed their prospects and found that on closer examination
they were not at all bad - until then they had never asked each
other about their work but all three had jobs which were very good
and held particularly good promise for the future.  The greatest
improvement for the time being, of course, would be achieved quite
easily by moving house; what they needed now was a flat that was
smaller and cheaper than the current one which had been chosen by
Gregor, one that was in a better location and, most of all, more
practical.  All the time, Grete was becoming livelier.  With all the
worry they had been having of late her cheeks had become pale, but,
while they were talking,  Mr. and  Mrs. Samsa were struck, almost
simultaneously, with the thought of how their daughter was
blossoming into a well built and beautiful young lady.  They became
quieter.  Just from each other's glance and almost without knowing
it they agreed that it would soon be time to find a good man for
her.  And, as if in confirmation of their new dreams and good
intentions, as soon as they reached their destination Grete was the
first to get up and stretch out her young body.

Extract Parts of Strings


By using square brackets [], you can grab or “index” part of a string based on its character number.

Here’s what happens if we index the first few characters of the The Metamorphosis. Remember that its opening line reads: “One morning, when Gregor Samsa woke from troubled dreams.”

Python Review

A Python index begins with 0. So the 0th character in a Python string is actually the 1st character.



You can slice a string up between certain characters or up to certain characters.


By putting specific index numbers between these colons, you can slice the string at certain starting and stopping points, and you can also “step” by different amounts—that is, you can jump by a certain number through the string and take every nth item in the string (e.g. every 3rd item).

Let’s index our Kafka sample text from the beginning to the 121st character.

'One morning, when Gregor Samsa woke from troubled dreams, he found\nhimself transformed in his bed into a horrible vermin.'
'One morning, when Gregor Samsa woke from troubled dreams, he found\nhimself transformed in his bed into a horrible vermin.'

Let’s index our Kafka sample text from the 121st character to the 250th character.

'  He lay on\nhis armour-like back, and if he lifted his head a little he could\nsee his brown belly, slightly domed and divided by '

Let’s create a varaible first_line and assign it the first sentence of The Metamorphosis.

first_line = sample_text[:121]
One morning, when Gregor Samsa woke from troubled dreams, he found
himself transformed in his bed into a horrible vermin.

String Methods

String Method



makes the string lowercase


makes the string uppercase


makes the string titlecase


removes lead and trailing white spaces

string.replace('old string', 'new string')

replaces old string with new string


returns a list of substrings separated by the given delimiter


opposite of split(), joins the elements in the given list together using the string

string.startswith('some string')

tests whether string begins with some string

string.endswith('some string')

tests whether string ends with some string


tests whether string is a space

Replace Words

String Method


string.replace('old string', 'new string')

replaces old string with new string

To replace a certain string within a string, you can used the replace method.

print(first_line.replace("morning", "evening"))
One evening, when Gregor Samsa woke from troubled dreams, he found
himself transformed in his bed into a horrible vermin.
print(first_line.replace("vermin", "grilled cheese"))
One morning, when Gregor Samsa woke from troubled dreams, he found
himself transformed in his bed into a horrible grilled cheese.

Your turn! Replace the word “vermin” with a word of your choosing:

first_line.replace("vermin", #your code here )

Transform Strings to Lowercase/Uppercase

String Method



makes the string lowercase


makes the string uppercase


makes the string titlecase

("I am really very quiet").lower()
'i am really very quiet'
("I am really very quiet").upper()

Your turn! Transform the first line of Kafka’s The Metamorphosis to upper case:

# your code here

Split Strings By a Delimiter

String Method



returns a list of substrings separated by the given delimiter

With the .split() method, you can split up a strings into a a list of parts. By default, it splits on spaces, but you can put in a different delimiter and split on something else.


Your turn! Split on the words “dreams” and see what happens.

# your code here

Join Strings By a Delimiter

String Method



opposite of split(), joins the elements in the given list together using the string

You can also put something back together again with the join() method!

kafka_split_words = first_line.split()
" ".join(kafka_split_words)
'One morning, when Gregor Samsa woke from troubled dreams, he found himself transformed in his bed into a horrible vermin.'

Your turn! Join kafka_split_words with a delimiter of your choosing.

# your code here