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The protagonist in the story is Gregor Samsa. He is a traveling salesman who is transformed into an insect. A selflessly committed individual working to support his family, he is gradually neglected and rejected by his family. He dies alone in his room after learning that no one wants him around. Gregor's metamorphosis from provider to burden symbolizes the aloneness of man even among those to whom he is closest.
The antagonists in the story are the people who reject Gregor and force him into isolation after his metamorphosis. Upon seeing Gregor as a bug, his boss runs away, and his father locks him in his room. As time passes, Gregor's father becomes more and more antagonistic to him, even becoming aggressive and wounding him by throwing apples. Even Grete eventually transforms from a devoted sister into a selfish and resentful young woman who states she hates the bug. After being totally rejected by all of humanity, Gregor goes into his room and dies.
The story has three peaks, each occurring at the end of a section. Section one climaxes when Gregor leaves his room and exposes himself to his family as a bug, receiving the first of his physical injuries and rejections.
The second climax, at the end of part two, occurs when Gregor's father delivers a physical blow to Gregor, showing his hatred and disgust by throwing apples and driving Gregor from the family circle. The third and final climax comes when Grete totally rejects Gregor, delivering a fatal wound, though not a physical one.
Each climax is precipitated by an attempt from the protagonist to join the family and consequently humanity; at each stage he is totally rejected. Grete's rejection hurts Gregor the most and is the ultimate climax of the story.
The story ends in tragedy. Gregor dies and his body is swept out in the trash by the maid.