Summary of The Fly by Katherine Mansfield

The Fly by Katherine Mansfield

The Fly was first published in Nation and Athenaeum, in 1922. The period with which the story line is concerned and the issues it refers to create a sense of place, of a world that operated through modes of communication and understanding that bore its own distinctive stamp. The language and allusions, the manners and the way of conduct, each gave the impression of a condition that where leisure criss- crossed with deep human concern in a particular way. The story is episodic in nature in that it cocerns a single incident in life of an unnamed man who lost his son, who was on duty in the first world war. As the story unfolds, we get to know something about this man, referred to as " boss" because that is the way another man, Mr Woodifield, whose allusion to the belgian war cemetery brings back the memories of the tragic death 6 years past. For a man who has lost his only son in the war, the memory is Stark and vivid, or at least that is what he as a father had been assuming thus far. He was the firm belief that his memory of his son would remain the same, intense and intact. But now reminded afresh by his guest Mr Woodifield of his son, the boss could not bring himself to shed the tears in the same way as before. This took him by surprise. What had happened in just 6 years? How could he not feel the loss of his son in the way he did on earlier occasions? Katherine mansfield combines a variety of emotional responses from anguish, anger, sense of loss and fatigue, to desperation and helplessness to show within the very limited space of the story how human understanding cannot be predicted or envisaged alone set patterns. More than the loss of his son and the memory that the boss harbours as a father, it is his attempt to disguise his sense of vacuum that is the most striking in the story. When Woodifield enters his room, the boss is busy displaying his newly acquired furniture, and more then the mere display, he in fact, had great fun at the expense of his guest who came to spend some rewarding time with him. That the boss possessed a sadistic streak is made apparent when he looks down upon Woodifield and enjoys his role of a patronizing host, egging his guest to have a go at the whiskey that owes its origin to a royal source. For a man accustomed to displaying his own be it is son, whom everyone in his office praised beyond measure, or his possessions, the boss like to be in control. This appears to be one of the motifs in the story as the figure of the fly is used by Mansfield to enhance the sense of misguided power that only renders the one who wields it hollow. What is the purpose of inflicting his power over a fly whose spirited attempts at survival are thwarted by this sadistic man's petty sense of pleasure? ( FOR MORE I WILL ADD SOON
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