Gregor wakes in the evening. He sees that someone has put a bowl of milk and bread in the room. Though milk had been his favorite drink, he finds he cannot stand the taste now. Then he listens for his family, but the apartment is completely quiet. He recalls the pride he felt at taking care of his family and wonders what will happen to them now. Someone cracks the door open but shuts it immediately, and Gregor eventually sees the light go off in the other room. He crawls under a small sofa and drops into a fitful sleep, vowing that he will do everything he can to make his new condition as small a burden on his family as possible.
In the morning, Grete opens the door but shuts it when she sees Gregor under the sofa. She reopens it and steps into the room. Noticing that Gregor has not eaten, she brings in various kitchen scraps and leaves Gregor to eat alone. He enjoys the moldiest food but has no interest in the fresh vegetables. Grete returns a little while later and sweeps up the scraps while Gregor watches her from beneath the sofa. A pattern thus begins, with Grete feeding and cleaning up after Gregor and reporting to the mother and father how much Gregor has eaten.
Gregor spends much of his time listening to the family through the door. He learns that the money he regularly gave his parents has not all been spent, and he feels proud of his contribution to their wellbeing. To avoid spending this savings, however, the family members will need to find employment. Gregor feels embarrassed when he hears them discuss this topic, as the father has become out of shape and clumsy and the mother has asthma, so neither seems very capable of working. Gregor also reflects on his relationship with his family, recalling how he and his parents had grown apart but that he and Grete had remained close, so much so that he had planned to send her to music school to study the violin.
Gregor slowly adapts to his new life. He begins to enjoy scurrying around his room and climbing on a chair to look out the window. Though Grete continues to look after Gregor, he notices that she cannot stand the sight of him, and he hides behind a sheet draped over the sofa when she enters the room. The parents avoid coming in, though they seem curious about his state. The mother in particular is eager to see him, but Grete and the father urge her not to.
Grete sees that Gregor enjoys climbing up the walls and across the ceiling, so she decides to remove the furniture from the room to give him more space. While the father is out, Grete and the mother start taking out furniture. Gregor hides as usual, but he grows anxious as he hears his mother worry that she and Grete might be doing him a disservice by stripping the room of his possessions. Grete, however, considers herself the expert on Gregor and overrules the mother’s objections. While Grete and the mother talk in the living room, Gregor, panicked at the thought of losing all the remnants of his human life, climbs the wall and covers the picture of the woman in furs to prevent it from being taken away.
The mother spots Gregor on the wall, goes into a panic, and passes out. Grete yells at Gregor as he lets go of the picture and scurries into the living room. Grete rushes out, grabs medicine, and returns to Gregor’s room, shutting the door behind her. The father returns and Grete tells him that Gregor broke out. He misunderstands Grete and thinks Gregor attacked the mother, so he starts chasing Gregor around the room. Gregor notices that his father has become a new man since getting a job as a bank attendant—he stands straighter and looks cleaner and healthier. The father throws fruit at Gregor, and eventually hits him with an apple that becomes lodged in Gregor’s back. The mother bursts from the bedroom and Gregor rushes for the door, hearing his mother beg his father to stop.