Flannery O'Connor's Stories

The Dehumanization of Gregor in "The Metamorphosis" and General Sash in “A Late Encounter with the Enemy”

Dehumanization of the protagonist is a common thematic element in both Kafka’s <i>The Metamorphosis</i> and O’Connor’s “A Late Encounter of the Enemy,” although the various aspects of dehumanization differ between the two works. Dehumanization plays a role in the deaths of both Gregor and General Sash; both authors describe the tremendous pressure exerted on the characters by society, especially through the lens of each character’s view of his own dehumanization. This degradation comes with consequences, both positive and negative, that affect the families of each character. The full extent of the dehumanization of Gregor and General Sash is revealed slowly through the exposition and rising action of both stories until, in a moment of climax, their deaths resolve their struggles and bring peace to their ailing spirits. Tragically, this corruption of their moral and even physical selves comes not only from their society, but also from their families; in fact, in both cases, the families benefit from their dehumanization and cause it to happen. The differing attitudes of Gregor and General Sash toward their impending deaths is another point of contrast: General Sash is so corrupted that he accepts his dehumanization...

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