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SAT Question for May 22nd


This passage is adapted from “Metamorphosis” by Franz Kafka, a famous story that combines elements of fantasy and reality. This excerpt begins with the protagonist realizing he has literally turned into a giant, beetle-like insect.

        One morning, when Gregor Samsa woke from        troubled dreams, he found himself transformed in        his bed into a horrible vermin. He lay on his armor-        like back, and if he lifted his head a little he could(5)    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 help-(10)    lessly as he looked.        “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(15)    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,(20)    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(25)    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(30)    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 before.(35)    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(40)    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.” He felt a slight itch up on his belly; pushed        himself slowly up on his back towards the headboard(45)    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(50)    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(55)    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(60)    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(65)    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(70)    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.”

What central idea does the excerpt communicate through Gregor’s experiences?

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