I'm (still) reading metamorphosis (by Kafka) and am having trouble with the following


For more context : the narrator wakes up being a bug and is worried that he is going to be late for work (!). The whole sentence is


And is translated by

And even if he caught the train, there was no avoiding a blow up with the boss, because the firm's errand boy would've waited for the five o'clock train and reported the news of his absence long ago

  1. About 五時の汽車に meaning "the five o'clock train". I suppose に is used to indicate a point in time ? Would 五時の汽車 be ungrammatical ?

  2. I can't figure out the meaning of 乗るものと思って待っていて. Is 思う used with its "to think" meaning and 待つ with "to wait" meaning ? For now i understand this part as "waiting and thinking about getting onboard"...

  3. Is 遅れたことをとっくに a case of A を B に construct ? I red about it but can't figure out how to translate it here. The whole clause 彼が遅れたことをとっくに報告してしまっているはずだ is difficult to me. I suppose してしまっている could be used as "to transform A into B" ?


1 Answer 1

  1. に collocates with 乗る. It cannot be omitted.

  2. The narrator speculates (with はず) that both the state of “waiting, on the assumption (or thinking) that he would take the five-o’clock train” (五時の汽車に彼が乗るものと思って待っている) and that of “having already reported that he was late” (彼が遅れたことをとっくに報告してしまっている) are true about the errand boy.

  3. とっくに is an adverb. 彼が遅れたことを報告する is the main part and it has undergone the following transformation.

  1. (店の小使が)彼が遅れたことを報告する
  2. (店の小使が)彼が遅れたことを報告してしまう
  3. (店の小使が)彼が遅れたことを報告してしまっている

しまう adds a sense of regret, completeness, or both.

ている in this context describes a completed state.

  • Thanks. 1. に彼が乗る disturbed me : would 彼が...に乗る be possible ? 3. I suppose it's the context wich tell us if it's the narrator or the errand boy who feel a sense of regret ?
    – xavier
    Commented May 30, 2021 at 7:09
  • @xavier: 1. Yes, it is very much possible. 3. When しまう expresses a sense of regret, it usually belongs to the speaker. In this case, the narrator could be expressing it for the protagonist (彼). Depending on the context, it could be the errand boy who regrets having reported the news prematurely, but that’s unlikely in this context.
    – aguijonazo
    Commented May 30, 2021 at 7:40

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