Spaciousness and Crowding

Kimberly Garcia                                                                                              February 14, 2011

Professor Zino                                                                                                 English 162W

            From Taun’s “Spaciousness and Crowding” and Kafka’s “The Metamorphosis”, we are given an understanding of the limitations or freedom given to us with space. Referring also to defying standards such gravity as Tuan mentioned in last week’s reading “Body, Personal Relations, and Spatial Values”. In Kafka’s work, we are introduced with the character Gregor Samsa as he awoke from bed as a bug. The transformation is unexpected and bewildering to him but he chooses to make the best of his unfortunate situation even though he is reluctant at first. He is confronted with the process of assimilating to his new body and the spaces around him.

            The author Kafka already demonstrated Tuan’s “Spaciousness” with the title “The Metamorphosis”.  The word metamorphosis is defined as a change of form, structure or substance. Once a man and already comfortable with the laws of gravity and space biologically, Gregor Samsa is reborn as an insect and must learn it all over again. We can see so already within the first paragraph “He was lying on his back, which was hard, as if plated in armor, and when he lifted his head slightly he could see his belly: rounded, brown, and divided into stiff arched segments: on top of it the blanket, about to slip off altogether, still barely clinging” (Kafka, pg.301) According to Tuan’s first reading “Space, Place, and the Child”, Gregor Samsa may well be related to a baby that is first, lying on its back, can lift its head slightly, and kick around its blanket with the control of its limbs (Tuan, pg. 21). As Tuan mentions in “Spaciousness and Crowding”, “ An infant is un-free, and so are prisoners and the bedridden. They cannot, or have lost their ability to move freely; they live in constricted spaces” (Tuan, pg.52) Like an infant on the bed, Gregor is a prisoner of his own body and space.

            The change of body form for Gregor has proved to be uncomfortable and laborious. For a person size is the way a person feels as he stretches his arm (Tuan, pg. 53). Since Gregor is an insect, how does his size affect him? How can he expand himself the way we could in terms of speed and distance? (example: bike to car to small aircraft) (Tuan, pg. 53) When Gregor realizes that he is late for work, he struggles to get out of bed. He thought with the help of the maid and his father “All they would have to do would be to slip their arms under his curved back, lift him out of bed, bend down with their burden, and then wait patiently while he flipped himself right side up onto the floor, where, one might hope, his little legs would acquire some purpose” (Kafka, pg. 305) Using the help of others, Gregor is not confident enough to help himself out first and therefore feels vulnerable and exposed (Tuan, pg. 54). This applies to the Western world although, contrast to be open and free Tuan mentions that a claustrophobic “sees small tight places as oppressive containment, not as contained spaces where warm fellowship or meditation in solitude is possible” (pg. 54) This concept could firmly agree with Kafka’s character as Gregor once before was a man of isolation considering he locks doors, even at home. He is challenged with the idea of letting go his solitude in exchange of understanding his new space. The environment of a small room he is given affects his space as he is bigger and wider than humans.

            As individuals, we are given the choice to defy gravity and the space given to us. We can expand or limit our space. However it is the expanded space that gives us freedom to do as we please. The transformation that we experience from a child to an adult is a process of assimilation just as it is for Gregor Samsa waking up as an insect.

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