In Katherine Mansfield's story "The Fly," what does the fly represent?

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In the short story "The Fly" by Katherine Mansfield , an old man named Woodifield is visiting a friend referred to only as the boss, who is five years older. The boss appears strong, self-reliant, and prosperous, while Woodifield is physically weak and dominated by his family. They share a tumbler of whiskey and then Woodifield remembers something he had wanted to tell the boss: on a recent trip to Belgium to visit Woodifield's son's grave, his family had also come across the grave of the boss's son. Both young men had died during World War I and were interred in a vast graveyard full of flowers...

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polnts | Student

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markcnz | Student

Hi I just read this short story for pleasure and found this site when looking for reviews.  Nice site.

 

The fly represents the frailty of life.  If you get knocked down hard enough too many times then you cannot get back up.

To this end the death of the son is like a drop of ink being placed on the man.  Therefore the fly represents the man -- A man who is distraught and forgetful which is caused by a tragedy in life.  Another such tragedy, a drop of ink, will kill the man just like it did the fly.

MC

 

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djx | Student

The fly represents more then just man. It represents the boss and his struggle for control. "the boss" had everything set up for his son to take over, he thought he was in control of everything. It was only an illusion to him. In the end he is destroyed( as the fly) as that represents his life. With out his sence of control he has nothing. His desire to control is what destroys him. In reality he has no control. Woodifield is a foil to the boss as aslo does not have control. katherine masfield uses the foil of Woodifield to help the reader understand the bosses situation. In the end when he forgets it is not that he has overcome his grief, it to show how he is the same as woodifield and that he does not have any control; woodifield has no control over his mind as he could not prevent his mind from havinig a stroke.

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