Essay on Franz Kafka 's The On The Fence

1470 Words Dec 18th, 2015 6 Pages
Franz Kafka lived on the fence. His indecisiveness concerning his nationality, religion, and stance on war resulted in a protracted, yet futile, struggle with himself. Was he Jewish or gentile? German or Czech? Militarist or pacifist? World War I found him surrounded by civilians who fell neatly into the categories of pacifism and militarism, but he himself was neither. The decision was made for him, however, when he developed tuberculosis. Consequently, he could neither enjoy a long life, nor sacrifice it for his nation. Likewise, Gregor Samsa is in a state of ‘purgatory’ in The Metamorphosis. He is neither entirely human nor entirely bug, as he never fully dedicated himself to either the pursuit of his own ambitions or to wholehearted servitude of his family. The story begins with Gregor missing more than his train; he has missed his chance to decide the direction of his life. Through this novella, Kafka seems to warn readers that decision-making is not a right, but rather a responsibility; he posits that the consequences of a lack thereof include: loss of control over one 's fate, the unattainability of one 's goals, serving as an example for others, and falling victim to oblivion.

As the first consequence for his indecision, Gregor is forced to relinquish control of his fate to more decisive individuals. His room serves as a microcosm for his life, and poses a dilemma that necessitates decision. Gregor must decide between an empty room, which would “let him crawl around…

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