The Fly in the Ointment by V. S. Pritchett

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Provide a character sketch of Harold (the son) in V.S. Pritchett's "The Fly in the Ointment."  

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In V.S. Pritchett's "The Fly in the Ointment," Harold is a man of strong character. Despite being raised by a self-centered, hateful father, Harold has a forgiving spirit and a desire to help—even for someone who seems not to deserve it.

As the story begins, we learn that Harold is wise enough to avoid trouble—a sign of self-preservation. His father's factory is closing in difficult financial times, and Harold arrives with care.

Better not to arrive in a taxi, he was thinking. The old man will wonder where I got the money.

We also learn that money is an issue. We might believe it is only because his father's business is failing, but Harold's description of family life says a great deal as to how money is always an issue; it also shows how Harold is able to rise to the occasion and be supportive in face of this disaster in his less-than-loving father's life.

Suddenly all the money quarrels of the family, which nagged in the young man's mind, had been dissolved. His dread of being involved in them vanished. He was overcome by the sadness of this father's situation...I must see him. I must help him. All the same, knowing his father, he had paid off the taxi and walked the last quarter of a mile.

Harold is a good soul because even though he is aware of how his father feels about him, he is present on the day the business will officially close. His father's attitude is expressed in his nickname for his son:

"Come in, Professor," said the father. This was an old family joke. He despised his son, who was, in fact, not a professor but a poorly paid lecturer at a provincial university.

Harold is an educated man. He has a job, but his father's snobbery (it would seem) has relegated his son to an inferior position...

(The entire section contains 645 words.)

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