Monday, August 22, 2022

Reading 26

Franz Kafka, "The Metamorphosis" (Part 2), The Complete Stories of Kafka

Gregor, now a beetle, is confined to his room. To stay out of sight of father, mother, and sister, he pushes himself beneath the sofa, at least as well as his body will fit under there. His sister brings him rotten food to eat, which he's developed a taste for. Also when there's no risk someone will enter, Gregor likes to hang upside down from the ceiling. Two weeks pass, and his only sighting has been his sister coming in to bring him food and clean up the mess. This two weeks is time enough for Gregor to reflect on the new habits of his family and to eavesdrop at the door. Gregor had thought himself his family's own livelihood while he was a working man, and indeed his parents had given him that impression. But now he overhears that his father has some money stowed away, which he had kept from his failing business enterprise. The amount is enough for the family to live on the principal for one or two years. It must be enough money, since we readers also note that this modest family has a maid and a cook. After these two weeks, Gregor's mother decides to come visit him but faints when she sees him hanging from the wall, his legs feeling comfortable on the cool glass of a picture frame. Just on the heels of Gregor's mother's fainting, Gregor's father comes home. We learn the father has taken a job at the bank. In his suit, he comes into Gregor's room, assuming Gregor as beetle has begun to act the animal and gone on attack against his own mother. Gregor's father has filled his pockets with apples. He starts slinging them at Gregor one after another. The thought occurs to Gregor that he has never seen his father like this. When Gregor was the primary breadwinner, he would head off to work early and see his father in a dressing gown, and when Gregor would turn late from work, he would see his father in that same dressing gown lounging around the living room. What energy the man has now. One of the apples lodges in Gregor's back. Gregor feels extreme pain. His last image is seeing his mother run in and stop his father before they both run out and shut and lock the door, and then Gregor passes out.

Percy Shelly, "Song ('Fierce roars the midnight storm')," Selected Poems and Prose

The poet's darling Laura is dying and the poet vows to lie down on her grave.

Susan B. Glasser and Peter Baker, "Trump's Last General," The New Yorker, August 15, 2022

This is an article about former president Donald Trump's constant clashes with American military leadership, including his last Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley.

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