V. S. Pritchett Questions and Answers

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Describe two extremes of father and son in the story "The Fly in The Ointment" by V.S. Pritchett.

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In V.S. Pritchett's "The Fly in the Ointment," the father and his son, Harold, are very different characters. Harold acts as a foil to his father in the story—by comparing Harold to his dad, we get clearer picture of the older man.

A foil is:

...a character who contrasts with another character...in order to highlight various features of that other character's personality...

The reader first meets Harold who tries not to upset his father, as seen when he arrives at the factory which is going out of business:

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

This comment lets us know that money is an issue in this family—an example of foreshadowing; it provides hints about important events to follow.

Harold has come to offer his father moral support during this tough time. We can infer the kind of a man Harold is—best seen in how his father acts, and how Harold still offers his help:

"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 aware of how his dad feels. He makes polite small talk and tries not to annoy his parent. We see Harold's true character in his willingness to put aside old pain and arguments to be there for his dad:

Suddenly all the money quarrels of the family, which nagged in the young man's mind, had been dissolved...He was overcome by the sadness of his father's situation...I must see him. I must help him.

Harold still loves his father, and he suffers at the thought of his parent going through such a hurtful ordeal.

At the other end of the spectrum, now we learn a great deal about Harold's...

(The entire section contains 641 words.)

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