Explain the theme of the parent/child relationship in the story "The Fly in the Ointment" by V.S. Pritchett.
V.S. Pritchett's "The Fly in the Ointment," studies the theme of relationships—here, between a father and his son.
Harold's father's career is crashing around him; when his son comes to the office, the old man is shy with him, an unusual response:
"Hullo, old chap. This is very nice of you, Harold," said the old man shyly.
(This is an extremely accurate glimpse into the human condition by the author: sometimes when an individual is at the "top of his/her game," he can be nasty. When he is sick, depressed or sad, he will soften.) The father seems to have changed. He hasn't always been nice to Harold:
"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...
This shy, soft side of the father disappears when Harold mentions that his dad has always been an optimist. The old man goes through a noticeable change, though Harold never saw it before.
...the son noticed for the first time that like all big-faced men his father had two faces. There was the outer face like a soft warm and careless daub of innocent sealing-wax and inside it, as if thumbed there by a seal, was a much smaller one, babyish, shrewd, scared and hard.
The old man explains he has worked hard all his life; if he weren't an optimist, in the middle of losing his business, "I'd finish it" or, he would kill himself. Quickly, his good spirits are restored and he smiles a great deal. The "big face" is back. Then, just as swiftly, he alters again and starts to criticize his son: he is going bald, he doesn't...
(The entire section contains 582 words.)
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