Hathaway Brown School
Instructor: Elizabeth Armstrong
Personal Essay & Memoir
My afternoon started with golf like any other day. Plain, bland, and boring. But like the cherry on top of your favorite sundae, mine was when my golf match got canceled on another "wonderful day for golf" as my coach likes to say.
When I went home, I found out that my dear mother had made the prettiest acai bowl with heart-shaped strawberries and star-shaped blueberries. She had taken the time to cut each and every strawberry into little hearts and blueberries halved into perfectly symmetrical stars with uniform ridges. It was not a daily occurrence that my mom put in the time to make aesthetically pleasing snacks, not only because she would have an intense pilates session right before I came home but also because she was not the type to care about the shape of your strawberries or the shape of your blueberries. I guess my luck had run out with the cancellation of a dreaded golf match because the moment I took my coconut bowl out of the fridge a large pesky fly plopped right into the center of my bowl. Luck did not favor me at all. Feeling grumpy and annoyed by the fact that the only meal of the day I ever like to eat was ruined, I stomped upstairs to take a nap bypassing homework because, in fact, homework was not my biggest issue compared to my ruined acai bowl.
When I woke up to my surprise, it was almost as if the clock had rewound. I felt a sense of deja vu when I opened the fridge to find the same acai bowl in the fridge, in the same shaped coconut bowl, with a wooden spoon neatly placed where my mom had set up her "summertime table mats from France and table cloth from Denmark". It was a silly little habit my mom had switching up the dining table by season from the springtime pastels and flowers, to vibrant colors with the strangest animals and fruits in the summer, muted neutrals and minimalism for fall, and her personal favorite and her largest collection of winter tableware in every size, shape, and form. It was actually a running joke that my mom who could care less about the shape of your food had the biggest obsession with the shape of your plate and tableware so much that once, she had specifically bought a house that had a built-in glass wall where she placed all her Christmas Copenhagen plates with the excuse of saying that it was a tribute to my dad, me, and herself by putting our birth year plates at the very top row.
I immediately assumed that my mom had put the same bowl back in the fridge thinking that I just wasn't hungry, but when I asked if she knew that a disturbing little fly had ruined my bowl, she responded with the nonchalant, "Yeah, I made a new one" and walked away before I could say anything. How strange that my mom who usually would've said to eat something else made a new acai bowl with the same heart-shaped strawberries and star-shaped blueberries. Maybe luck was on my side after all. Or was it just some magical telepathy I've only ever read in books? After all, my acai bowl looked a little pinker and tasted like the summer sunsets on vacation. Or maybe it was indeed my mother, who like Cinderella's fairy godmother, had painstakingly cut little shapes out of fruits and secretly added a teaspoon of love and a sprinkle of delight on a wonderful day.
What Does it Mean to be an Intuitive Thinker?
Personal Essay & Memoir
What Does it Mean to be an Intuitive Thinker?
Is the glass half full or half empty? An answer that changes every day depending on what I feel like. In my mind questions like did the glass start empty or did the glass start out filled to the top of the rim constantly nag the back of my mind. The intuitive thinker in me, the more optimistic but less practical side of myself would say it's half full. The idea that the glass is purposefully half full is much more satisfactory than thinking that some external force, like spilling, caused it to be half empty is more than less appealing. The realist or sensing feeler in me would argue that there is no way I could confidently assert that the original intent was pouring the glass only halfway. The only logical conclusion would be that it is half-empty.
MBTI, the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, is essentially a personality typology from which one gains insight into psychological preferences and the impact those preferences have on interactions with other people. The four main categories are Extroversion vs Introversion, Sensing vs Intuition, Thinking vs Feeling, and Judging vs Perceiving. When I sat down with the professional who had tested me to discuss my results, the only category I struggled to understand was the Sensing vs Intuition category. Multiple results they had gathered of me over the years almost always showed a 49% Sensing and 51% Intuition, and my response time for those questions was significantly longer than the other categories. Sensing is often related to realists who are observant, have high attention to detail, and are much more critical of their surroundings and future hence the term realists. Intuition on the other hand is associated with idealists who focus on the big picture, use abstract, intangible, or conceptual language to formulate a plan, and are known to be innovative and creative (Regan).
The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald, is an elaborate spinning of lies and carefully crafted manipulation Gatsby orchestrates to achieve his lifelong dream of gaining the love of Daisy Buchanan ever since he first sees her five years ago. His greed for wealth and success is driven by his futile, baseless desire to earn Daisy's love. But unlike what most rational people would do in Gatsby's situation, whether that be giving up and reckoning the futileness of unrequited love, or even pursuing love until you're only left with a colossal disaster with neither wealth nor love, Gatsby perseveres. He gains massive wealth and status, and although short-lived and superficial, he earns Daisy's love. It is surreal how he builds a career from nothing: a son of a poor farmer from the Midwest to a high-ranking officer through World War I and eventually an extremely successful businessman regardless of his illegal means. His MBTI personality type is often defined as INTJ or also coined as the "Mastermind" consisting of a combination of Introverted, Intuition, Thinking, and Judging (Michelle).
Gatsby exemplifies and defines this "Mastermind" personality type through his strong Intuition and Thinking traits which makes him massively successful as an intuitive thinker. As Nick defines it, "it was an extraordinary gift for hope" (Fitzgerald 2). A common misconception that stems from Gatsby's obsession with wealth and success is that he can, on the other hand, seem somewhat of a realist as they favor tangible means. However, the most critical point to note in Gatsby's success is that success is merely a stepping stone towards what he sees as his true goal of love. Wealth is a milestone, an asset that he believes makes him more attractive and desirable which is why he hosts lavish parties. Despite the circulating rumors of his "bootlegging" and immoral means of gaining wealth, he stays disinterested and impassive solidifying his image as a mysterious figure. His aloof manner is rooted in his NT characteristics which combined create highly rational thinking that favors efficiency and effectiveness at the same time significant emotional disconnect. Nick describes Gatsby's lonely death as, "I took him aside and asked him to wait for half an hour. But it wasn't any use. Nobody came" (Fitzgerald 174). Gatsby's death clearly highlights the extreme extent of his preference for logic over emotions. Because Gatsby vies for relationship-building as pointless as it serves no purpose in attaining Daisy, it is at the bottom of his hierarchy of importance reflected in his isolated social life.
I myself share many similar personality traits as Gatsby the most difficult to understand is the NT type. It confuses me how I value my Intuition, my heart, over my Sensing head while my Thinking values my intellect over my sentimental Feeling. It seems like a contradiction that I value both my head and my heart, but this struggle for equilibrium seems like what causes my indecisiveness between my preference for Sensing or Intuition. I like the stability of hard, concrete facts and the reliability and comfort it creates, but I hate being caught up in the details of trivial matter that clouds the intent and objective. On the other hand, I like the risks I take and the confidence and trust I have to have in myself, yet I hate the fact that abstract ideas are intangible, something that is difficult to explain to others my intent, purpose, and reasoning behind my motivation and determination.
I remember as a child in elementary school, I absolutely despised group projects. As soon as the teacher had shown the prompt for the project we had to work on in assigned groups, in my mind, I had already figured out the exact amount of time it would take, how much research it would require, and what roles would need to be distributed to each person to best fit their working styles. Excited and giddy for an A+ on what seemed like the easiest project, I would explain my plan from start to finish to my classmates who only stared at me dumbfounded with glossy eyes. They asked me questions like "Why?", "What are we doing?", "What color should the font for the title be?", or "What do I look up?" which frustrated my ten-year-old self to no end. I could not understand Why they were asking such insignificant questions regarding the same old format and color that did not contribute to receiving a better grade, or Why they did not understand the purpose of the project, or Why they simply did not know where to start! "Why is it not obvious!" I would passive-aggressively whisper careful not to disrupt the class but sorely disappointed that my group was wasting thirty minutes asking me trivial questions.
Similar to Gatsby, I value critical and rational thinking very highly, and this is a fact that I have known as a child. However, unlike Gatsby's extreme emotional disconnect, I was certain of what I thought were my exceptional Sensing and Feeling abilities. Unfortunately to my disappointment, my prediction was wrong. I was so confident that I had contributed to lessening my teammates' load and my greatest strength lay in the fact that I was highly perceptive of others' emotions and feelings. I truly believed that my compassion and empathy for others, as Feeling traits are characterized, trumped my tendencies towards logic and order as a Thinker (Regan; Thinking or Feeling). It was an understatement to say that I was shocked when my results came out as 38% Feeling and 62% Thinking. I almost felt a sense of betrayal looking at my results that continuously, without a doubt, marked me as an Intuitive Thinker instead of a Sensing Feeler. My results read that I was "out of touch" and often had a difficult time comprehending emotions. Now that I look back at my childhood, it is not that I lacked empathy for others as a child, but that when faced with a problem I tended to associate providing help with solving the problem. Empathizing, only, does not lessen or minimize the problem; solving the problem eliminates it completely. With this realization, I had come to terms that my greatest strengths, like Gatsby, were my ambition and self-confidence to accomplish my goals yet they were also my greatest weaknesses that made me stubborn and impatient when it came to efficiency and effectiveness.
Gatsby's greatest strength, his infinite potential as an intuitive thinker, is ironically his greatest weakness. It is the same traits that make him able to captivate Daisy that causes him to live an isolated, bitter life. There is no doubt that he is highly driven and motivated as he continues to pursue his long-time goal with consistent passion.
'You always have a green light that burns all night at the end of your dock.' Daisy put her arm through his abruptly, but he seemed absorbed in what he had just said. Possibly it had occurred to him that the colossal significance of that light had now vanished forever. Compared to the great distance that had separated him from Daisy it had seemed very near to her, almost touching her. It had seemed as close as a star to the moon. Now it was again a green light on a dock. His count of enchanted objects had finished by one. (Fitzgerald 93)
This is a pivotal moment where Gatsby, although his dream has come true, also feels to a certain extent a sense of emptiness and futility. He has gained wealth, fame, and love yet the illusion of perfection is broken. He starts seeing Daisy's flaws and imperfections and he feels as if gaining Daisy's love is not fully satisfactory. Daisy is only an inspiration that sparks his career and fantasy in his mind that evolves with him over time. The Daisy Gatsby expects is a product of a fantasy, a collection of ever-changing goals and dreams, not the Daisy he first met as James Gatz who was nothing but a poor college student working as a janitor to pay for his education. "Possibly it had occurred to him that the colossal significance of that light had now vanished forever" is where Gatsby recognizes that "his count of enchanted objects had finished by one" and in place is not pride and fulfillment but emptiness and desolation knowing that the end goals were not as perfect and pristine as he had imagined. His infant dreams that he first started with mature over time, and in a position with everything he could possibly imagine he wanted, he feels an unidentifiable urge for more. He feels the need to continue to climb the ladder of success not realizing that there is nowhere else to go which is why he feels incredibly dissatisfied even after reuniting with Daisy.
It is true that Gatsby is a brilliant intuitive thinker who achieved his dream. He is the model of the "American Dream" that sets a precedent and inspiration that it is possible to create something out of something. But it is also true that the moment Gatsby realizes that the green light goes out, he becomes a realist. He no longer chases for Daisy but chooses to ignore that his dream was a false illusion in desperate attempts to regain his motivation and vision. As an intuitive thinker, Gatbsy's life is fueled by setting a purpose, and a goal using his creative potential. He embodies the definition of passion and ambition and his intuition drives the need for accomplishment. Achieving the unattainable, and making the impossible possible is what Gatsby thrives at doing, and by acquiring Daisy's love he finally completes the impossible task. However, an intuitive thinker, being goal-oriented, cannot survive without a next goal as it feeds off the zeal and frenzy of producing results. They align themselves with the motto of ends justify means as it generates influential amounts of efficiency to attain their objectives as quickly as possible (Watson). Gatsby ultimately realizes that Daisy was also another goal, a nominal, superficial title of achievement that was of great difficulty to earn. Once he is certain that Daisy is fully committed to him, he feels the "green light" has distinguished as he is unable to continue the rigorous cycle of constantly chasing for more and more. He cannot identify the next step as he has been too absorbed in attaining an impossible purpose that he has not thought about what would happen after. So in other words, is Gatsby really a hopeless, passionate romantic like how people often depict him, a shrewd businessman who even sacrifices his morals to impress the girl of his dreams and unfortunately meets a tragic ending, or is he just a mastermind, a brilliant intuitive thinker who blinded all of us including himself to fall for the false premises of young love until it was too late to realize that there was no more room up to go?
Hobbies are the New Trendy
Personal Essay & Memoir
Hobbies are the New Trendy
Hydroponics. Or what my dad likes to call "innovative farming"! My dad picked up this peculiar little hobby of his during quarantine and now it has become the running joke in the family that he wants to retire to become a farmer. It first started with a huge, clunky black box that was delivered to our doorstep from Amazon. My mom and I were convinced that this would be one of his hobby phases that had been ongoing since the first week he came to Ohio from California. After a week of celebrating his successful runaway where he packed all his stuff in a tiny suitcase and got on a plane, sneaking out of his flat after the mandatory curfew, he had gone into a phase where he tried new hobbies sometimes each week if he liked it or a day if he didn't. His previous hobbies were a wide range of extremes as he had bought a self-standing putter inspired by my grandpa, who owns a massive collection of every golf club possible, during their father-in-law and son-in-law bonding time the past year; a meat cutter, strange as it may sound, that sliced all types of meat at any desired thickness, of which my dad preferred exactly 1mm; and also a vegetable dicer that cubed all your vegetables into tiny cubes.
My dad's first hydroponics started with little lettuce seeds that he planted in a soil bed and left in his office to "generate fresh air." Then his little garden started growing exponentially until it was overflowing with a jungle of plants. He started buying one, two, then three more huge boxes that eventually grew into a factory-sized farm in the basement of our house. Although I did take some interest, in the beginning, to spy on my dad waiting with my mom until his often short-lived hobbies fused out, this one never did, and both my mom and I lost interest. Months later, a plate with lettuce popped up on the kitchen counter. Next, was a bowl of cherry tomatoes, then a container of basil, and mint leaves, and every day on the kitchen counter there was some new herb, flower, or vegetable that showed up. When my mom and I investigated this odd appearance of vegetables, our culprit was my dad. He had grown a whole farm in the basement that he claimed could "feed us [my parents and me] during a zombie apocalypse" and wanted to expand his basement farm to more land.
Since the finding of his new interest, it is truly not an understatement that my dad has developed a whole new character. It's very important to note that my dad is a man of suits and collared shirts only, jumbled words of business talk, and he absolutely despises spontaneity preferring a hard, tangible plan. He does not wear suits because he dresses nicely or likes formal wear, in fact, he was and still is a horrible dresser who was definitely not blessed with the gifts of fashion sense. Up until quarantine, he lived a pretty dull, mundane life that consisted of work, home, and golf that repeated on a daily cycle. But since this finding of his hobby, it's funny finding my dad wearing his slacks and dress shirt from work or his polos and khakis from golf squatting in front of his plants with a spray bottle in hand. It's almost ironic and comical how he looks like a mediocre farmer since his life as a golf dad and businessman was far less radical. Although my mom and I jokingly make fun of my dad's quirky farmer outfits and his ever-growing secretive farm that produces every type of plant possible, this "hobby phase" may have been the key all along to unlocking his alter persona: businessman by day and farmer by night.
As daunting as trying new things and developing new hobbies sounds, because I can truly speak from experience that new places, new people, and new adventures are my greatest fear, it is an exploration of enriching experiences and cultivation of identity that nothing else compares to. After the initial fear of unfamiliarity passes, you grow fond of new hobbies over time like the love-hate relationship between grumpy cats and cheerful owners or in my case, although I hate to admit it, just the tiniest amount of fondness I have for the drama and melodramatic sappiness that is a classic cliche in all romance novels. So try as many new things as possible and sit with the apprehension of exploring the unknown because you never know; it might just become your new favorite hobby.
The Duality of Public Attention
The Duality of Public Attention
"The Portrait", by Nikolai Gogol, is centered around an interesting protagonist Chartkov who is extremely impoverished, yet he has an extraordinary love for the arts. When a large sum of money is suddenly presented to him by the mysterious painting, Chartkov is influenced into choosing between the two, money or passion for his career. Because Chartkov chooses to disregard his values as an artist and desire wealth, it may seem to be as if Chartkov is overwhelmed by greed and hubris, but in reality, it is the exact opposite as Chartkov is given no choice as money is quite literally the factor that provided a source of sustenance. With his severe, dire living conditions is the increasing expectation of the public that emerges as Chartkov is able to successfully capture the interest of people with his satisfactory paintings tailored specifically for each commissioner. However, this key aspect is also what drives Chartkov to extreme insecurity and insanity. Torn between pursuing his true interests in the arts and creating monotonous yet popular paintings, he is a product of the time period of societal pressure, exceedingly seeking validation out of necessity knowing that an end to his career is inevitable.
Chartkov rises to fame in an incredibly short time span through a critical commission where he paints a young girl similarly to Psyche, a beautiful Greek goddess. Through this commission, he shows his aptitude for excelling at meeting the standards others impose, especially using positive feedback from the public as motivation to reach the peak of success.
The facial type of the young society girl was inadvertently imparted to Psyche, and through that she acquired the distinctive expression which gives a work the right to be called truly original. It seemed he made use of both the parts and the whole of what his model had presented to him, and he became totally caught up in his work. (363) (my emphasis)
As the story is set during Neoclassicism, the classical works dating back to the ancient Greeks and Romans were the standards of ideal beauty. By blending the young girl's plain looks with the looks of Psyche, who would have been a perfect example of beauty, Chartkov successfully appeals to the mother and the daughter. Although it can seem as if Chartkov's intentions are dishonorable by deceiving the mother and daughter, he feels immense guilt as an artist for painting her in such a way that she does not look exactly alike. He does not have a choice given that if he does not finish the commission successfully, he is not able to sustain everyday life. He feels conflicted and ashamed of what he did, but at the same time, by idealizing and ridding subtle nuances, he is able to please the mother and avoid starvation. Chartkov also combines both faces to create "distinctive expression[s]" and to make it "truly original" because he wants to make an effort into preserving the originality and uniqueness of the girl's actual portrait. It is a representation of his guilty consciousness and how he eases the dishonor of imitating famous portraits by making greater efforts to make it as similar to the girl as possible. With the number of increased commissions, again, Chartkov is seen integrating ideal facial types at a much faster pace.
If a lady wished to be Corinne, Ondine, or Aspasia, he agreed to everything with great willingness and added a dose of good looks on his own, which, as everyone knows, never hurts, and on account of which an artist may even be forgiven the lack of likeness. Soon he himself began to marvel at the wonderful quickness and facility of his brush. (365-366) (my emphasis)
"If a lady wished to be Corinne, Ondine, or Aspasia" is where Chartkov slowly starts to yield to people's influence over his morals. He refers to women as "Corrine, Ondine, or Aspasia" emphasizing how each painting no longer holds importance. By objectifying the women he hints that his paintings no longer have sentimental value and there is no substantial difference between each commission as each is only a way for him to increase his profit. Chartkov no longer carefully considers how to portray each feature and characteristic of individual expressions, and he starts to add "a dose of good looks on his own" to blur all the portraits to look alike. He gives in to the will of his clients and even brazenly states that "as everyone knows, never hurts" and "forgiven the lack of likeness". He does understand that his paintings only resemble the idealized form of beauty that all people strive to achieve and that there is no differentiation between them all, but he also perceives the popularity he gains to be correlated with how much he can satisfy his clients. He condones his immoral behavior diverted by the "quickness and facility of his brush" that allows him a significant amount of commissions in a shorter period of time. The more paintings he paints, the more popularity he gains, and the attention he receives acts as his mental, and emotional nourishment that provides the incentive for him to paint more. The crowd's attention is the essence of his creativity and artistic ability which is why he is so sensitive toward public opinion shown by the drastic improvement in the number of paintings throughout the progression of his career. He molds himself to fit the requirements and expectations that are held for him and submits wholly to societal pressure in order to accomplish what is expected.
Even though Chartkov's adept abilities to adjust to popular beliefs were the key step to success, it ironically also becomes the critical reason for the end of his career. Because he is unable to find the balance between originality and conventionality, relying solely on short-lived recognition, Chartkov's legacy is comprised of lost originality and plain, monotonous paintings.
'No, I do not understand,' he would say. 'Why others [artists] strain so much, sitting and toiling over their work. The man who potters for several months over a painting is, in my opinion, a laborer, not an artist. I don't believe there is any talent in him. A genius creates boldly, quickly. Here,' he would say, usually turning to his visitors, 'this portrait I painted in two days, this little head in one day, this in a few hours, this in a little more than an hour. No, I… I confess, I do not recognize as art something assembled line by line. That is craft, not art.' (366) (my emphasis) With the new height of popularity, Chartkov struggles to maintain the admiration he receives by increasing the speed of painting. Efficient speed but beautiful results were the salient factors that attracted people in the beginning which Charktkov believes will continue to solidify his status. He mentions art is not "something assembled line by line" but he contradicts himself as the speed of his new paintings is quite reminiscent of a factory assembly line: still fast and somewhat coherent as a whole yet haphazard at the same time. "this portrait I painted in two days, this little head in one day, this in a few hours, this in a little more than an hour" proves how with less time he spends the more the initial painting of a portrait turns into a vague, disfigured term of "this".
He seems to not have any guilty consciousness in the dissimilarity of portraits and is more desperate to flaunt his success. Because he knows the instability of fame as an artist and his extreme insecurity to appease others, he exaggerates his career, hoping to captivate the public eye knowing that there will be an inevitable end. Chartkov's turning point to total failure is when he sees a young artist's transcending masterwork.
It seemed to him as if those urges and impulses that used to be familiar to him suddenly revived all at once in his soul. This idea corresponded most of all to his state of mind. But, alas! His figures, poses, groupings, thoughts came out forced and incoherent. His brush and imagination were confined too much to one measure, and the powerless impulse to overstep the limits and fetters he had imposed on himself now tasted of wrongness and error. He had neglected the long, wearisome ladder of gradual learning and the first basic laws of future greatness. (371) (my emphasis) Chartkov's loss in imagination, technique, and originality is all apparent as "his brush and imagination were confined too much to one measure" and he feels "powerless" to the "limits and fetters he had imposed on himself". His greatest weakness and obstacle is failing to surpass the criticism and let it influence him instead which prevents him from ever expanding his skill set. He is truly sympathetic in the sense that societal acceptance which he thought to be his greatest asset soured into his greatest liability turning his greatest joy of painting into the demanding process of trying to reproduce the results of recognition and affirmation each time. "The Portrait" provides insightful insight into the complexity and various facets of facing societal pressure. Chartkov is truly the victim, especially as an artist during a time period where art trends shifted dramatically and his desperation is evident both in the perspectives of wanting to escape poverty and wanting to sustain a successful career. Gogol artfully uses this story to indicate the faults of Neoclassicism and the stigmas and stereotypes that are created from wanting to attain surface-level perfection, beauty, and success.
Kafkaesque in The Metamorphosis
Kafkaesque in The Metamorphosis
The Metamorphosis, by Franz Kafka, is a novel of artful metaphors dealing with the literal and figurative definition of metamorphosis. As one of Kafka's most popular and best-known works, it is a story of complex ideas ranging from familial relationships to the forced menial work life, the unique Kafkaesque nightmarish, illogical, pessimistic absurdity, and the feeling of alienation that is uniform throughout the novel. Kuper's comic interpretation of The Metamorphosis, although a valiant try in conveying the original message of, estranged family relations, fails to truly capture the essence that Kafka's novel contains, one of desperation, false hope, and isolation. Instead, Kuper's version has a much more lighthearted, comical twist to the original that strays from Kafka's intent diminishing its power and effectiveness.
The novel's scene where Gregor desperately tries to talk to his frightened manager is one of urgency and hopelessness compared to the comic's scene which is quite amusing and overdramatic. As Gregor first deals with his transformation, it is odd that he does not panic that he is in the form of a bug. Instead, he worries about his job and how to get to work. He says, "On the other hand, I have my parents and sister to think of. Truly I'm in a bind, but I shall work my way out of it. Don't make things more difficult for me than they already are" (44-45). The comic on the other hand shows the frightened yet comical expression of the manager who rushes to escape from Gregor. Although Kuper tries to invoke readers' sympathy for Gregor by using the bumpy-shaped text, it only induces humor in Gregor's pitiful situation. It has a similar feeling of desperation as the original but where the feeling stems from is quite different. The novel emphasizes the point that Gregor is "in a bind" because to take care of and provide for his family, it is necessary for him to have the job that he despises. The hopelessness is coming from the irony of the situation that even though Gregor dislikes his job, he has no choice but to continue working in order to look after his parents and sister. Kuper decides to develop Gregor's despair from his transformation which makes him physically inept. It is the difference between the defined degrees of emotional distress and physical distress that Kuper fails to incite. Also, when Gregor's mother first sees him she, "cocked [her head] at an angle, as if to see Gregor better, but then, contradicting this, she senselessly retreated… and didn't seem to notice that the big overturned coffeepot beside her was pouring a thick stream of coffee on the rug" (48). There is a subtle difference between Gregor's mother's shocked reaction in the novel and the comic where she hysterically cries and yells. The comic does correctly depict Gregor's mother's childishness as she and his father "were too preoccupied with their own troubles" (Kuper). Both do not feel sympathy for Gregor but rather disdain and rejection toward their son. However, the comic is unable to describe the intense shock Mrs. Samsa feels when seeing her own son and interprets her to be overdramatic and theatrical. The tone of the comic is not the grave, serious tone that is in the novel representing the risks and sacrifices that Gregor must make to save his family and the conflicted perspectives of his family members. The comic is distinctly different in terms of the light, humorous tone it carries to highlight the absurdity of the scene rather than the weight and gravity of the disturbing reality of turning into a bug.
Unlike the novel where Gregor feels immense apprehension and terror towards his father, the comic again takes a more casual, innocent take on their relationship that almost ridicules Gregor's father. Gregor's father, Mr. Samsa, who is known as an intimidating figure, "had filled his pockets from the fruit bowl on the sideboard and now was tossing apple after apple in Gregor's direction, for the moment not even bothering to take particular aim" (84). The comic represents the same scene by using the difference in size between Mr. Samsa and Gregor and the widened eyes of Gregor that attempt to portray his terror. The importance that Kafka signifies in this scene is not that Gregor is wounded by the apple that is thrown, but the fact that Gregor's own father would care so little about his own son to hurt him without any guilt or consciousness. His meticulous preparation to carry several apples in his pocket, the careless, haphazard aim, and the repetitive motion of throwing all represent the goal of hindering a bug. It is not anger that scares Gregor, but the emotionless, detachment Mr. Samsa has from his own son that allows him to attack Gregor. The comic is describing Mr. Samsa as hot-headed which is why out of irrationality and anger Mr. Samsa throws the apple at Gregor. The action is not deliberate but rather a display of an outburst. Gregor in the comic even refers to his father as, "The same tired old man?" which unintendedly gives off the impression of sarcasm. Mr. Samsa's huge size is feigned intimidation that is unfortunately not convincing enough for readers to feel the novel's trepidation. Gregor's widened eyes and stutter are also signs of surprise, not unease that his incapable and lacking father is able to throw an apple at him. Kuper clearly does not convey the same purpose of symbolizing alienation, but he uses Mr. Samsa's violence as a satirical impact to enlighten readers.
The Metamorphosis is a pessimistic, desolate, painfully harsh description of reality. Gregor's struggles and hopes are futile because all endings in Kafka's interpretations are tragic and pointless. The dark humor of Kafka's works originates from the irony of the situation that characters are not able to escape, the absurd situation that seems like a dream yet presents itself as reality. It is not Kuper's satirical and genuine moments of humor that are present in every fictional novel. Kafka's emphasis lies in the endless cycle of despair that can only seem like a nightmare or false reality.