In both Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka and So Long A Letter by Mariama B, the there is a big importance of family and friendship. Through the relationship between Gregor Samsa and his family and through the relationship of Modou, Ramatoulaye and Aissatou we can tell that there is a huge importance of family and friendship in both two texts.
The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka is about a man, Gregor Samsa, who is transformed overnight into a vermin. From the beginning, we see that a young, hard working man Gregor has turned into a bug. After his death, it is obvious that Gregor was of importance to his family. His family depended on him for their happiness but yet unappreciated him.
So long a letter is about the story of Ramatoulaye Fall. She writes a letter to her lifelong friend Aissatou Ba. The reason for the writing is Ramatoulaye’s recent widowhood. As she gives her friend the details of her husband’s death, she sets off on a journey of remembering the major events in her and Aissatou’s lives.
In Metamorphosis, Gregor was very important to the family’s welfare. He was the only working member of the family, and he and his family depended on it his job. Even though he wanted to quit his job, he still had to provide for his family. He felt that his family was too dependent of him. When Gregor wouldn’t let anyone into his room because of his transformation, he thought that his family was harassing him because he was in danger of losing his job. After his family found out that Gregor had transformed into an insect, they realized that he was no longer of any use to the family, and he was unappreciated in every way. Gregor was now a problem for he had no function in the family. To his family he was only a bug and not Gregor. For this reason, they simply did not show him any respect.
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Similarly, in So Long A Letter, Ramatoulaye mentioned how she gave more than received from Modou. This can show how Ramatoulaye was also taken for granted like Gregor. What was lacking in Ramatoulaye and Modou’s marriage was a strong friendship or foundation between the two, and so eventually both their love and marriage fell apart. They never gave equally in their friendship so there never was that strong foundation.
In metamorphosis there was also a communication problem within the family. When Gregor spoke to his mother, she didn’t recognize the change in voice suggesting that they didn’t speak often. His family could only mention was how useless he was. He was only good when he could provide for the family and so he was never really appreciated for who he was. The fact that he and his family didn’t communicate well even before his metamorphosis made it even harder to talk to him when he was in the body of a giant vermin. Gregor’s parents were the cause of all of this. They totally lost interest in their son and what was going on with his life and were only interested in living their comfortable life.
Just like in So Long A Letter, where I think Ramatoulaye and Modou didn’t have enough communication. The lack of communication could have caused the failure of the marriage. Aissatou and Ramatoulaye were very good friends, and they had good communication with each other. Maybe the fact that they were friends helped it. The fact that Ramatoulaye and Modou were married could have caused this communication problem. In marriage you can be very different from your spouse, but because you are so united as a couple, it is much more difficult to have different ways of seeing stuff and still staying together. Unlike friends, where they can have totally different ideologies and ways of handling situations, just like Aissatou and Ramatoulaye. So, in a way I think Ramatoulaye and Modou may have been fine being friends and just talking to one another, as opposed to being married.
In Metamorphosis, nothing much had changed after Gregor’s metamorphosis. Gregor’s family failed to realize that even as a bug, Gregor was still there and that he could understand everything they had to say. Many times he tried to show his loyalty, but still Gregor was not to be accepted for who he was. After some time, his family still hadn’t got used to him and despite all of Gregor’s efforts,Â his family had failed to realize that the insect that they had treated so cruelly was actually their son.
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In So Long A Letter, we can also say that Ramatoulaye, her children, and Aissatou all go through a metamorphosis as well. But in this case, it affected Ramatoulaye, her children, and Aissatou much more than when Gregor turned into a vermin, and the effect it had on Gregor’s family. Ramatoulaye’s friendship with Aissatou changed. It was her and Aissatou’s friendship that kept her going strong. Another thing that pushed her was Ramatoulaye’s children. Aissatou was there to give her advice, help her, and just to be there for any sort of support. She even gave Ramatoulaye a car which is a very generous thing to do. The fact that both of them gave equally in their friendship unlike Ramatoulaye and Modou is very touching indeed.
After Gregor’s metamorphosis, his family goes through an even bigger metamorphosis than Gregor himself.Â Soon after, his relationship between him and his family then starts to deteriorate. Gregor’s transformation leads to the bigger metamorphosis occurring to his family rather than to himself. One of Gregor’s family members who go through significant metamorphosis is Gregor’s sister Grete. Grete is probably the only person that he cared the most about.Â After Gregor turned into a bug, Grete seems like the only person in his family that actually cares about him. She helps him keep his room clean and also brings him things to eat twice a day. She also worries what he might like to eat “But he would never have been able to guess what his sister, in the goodness of her heart, actually did. To find out his likes and dislikes, she brought him a wide assortment of things”.  Grete’s kindness, even when she is afraid of her brother’s unpleasant appearance, touches Gregor deeply. She is the only person that he contacts with. This causes Gregor to feel less alienated than he already is. Her love and care gave him a reason to live, but when she stopped caring it killed him. Grete turned from this loving, caring, and warm sister into this dark, uncaring, and selfish person.
As the time starts to pass, Grete practically stops caring about her brother. She starts treating him differently. “No longer considering what she can do to give Gregor a special treat, his sister, before running to business every morning and afternoon, hurriedly shoved any old food into Gregor’s room with her foot”.  Grete is not thinking about Gregor anymore; this makes her uncaring. Shoving things with her foot is an example of her showing him that he is a bug because bugs are usually stomped on with feet. “The cleaning up of Gregor’s room, which she now always did in the evenings, could not be done more hastily”  . Grete now also doesn’t care enough to clean Gregor’s room properly. “Streaks of dirt ran along the walls, fluffs of dust and filth lay here and there on the floor.”  The condition of Gregor’s room can tell the way Grete feels about her brother. Cleaning “hastily”, can also tell that Grete actually doesn’t really care about Gregor and doesn’t want anything to do with him. Grete gets a job to help pay for expenses, and no longer wants takes care Gregor, this shows a selfish side of her. As the time went on, even Grete didn’t car anymore “Things can’t go on like this. Maybe you don’t realize it, but I do. I won’t pronounce the name of my brother in front of this monster, and so all I say is: we have to try to get rid of it”.  Grete doesn’t want to believe that the bug is her brother. She wants to believe that the bug is just a bug that needs to be taken care of.
After Gregor died, her mother and father both realised that Grete had grown up and that it was time for her to find a husband. So even though the transformation of Gregor mostly brought upon negative things to the family, he brought some sort of happiness to his family after he died.
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