The Fly in the Ointment Questions and Answers
by V. S. Pritchett

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In his short story The Fly in the Ointment, how does V.S. Pritchett's use of descriptive language help to reveal the character of the father?

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In V.S. Pritchett’s short story The Fly in the Ointment , Harold’s aging father is revealed gradually through the course of the narrative as a person the son would rather not know.  Having arriving at his father’s factory on the day it is to close for good due to bankruptcy, Harold is cautious about saying or doing anything that could conceivably upset the old man.  As the taxi in which he is riding approaches the factory, Harold thinks to himself: “Better not arrive in a taxi. . .The old man will wonder where I got the money.”  This is an early indication that Harold is accustomed to walking on egg shells in the presence of his father, and that concerns about profligate spending may be a divisive issue between them.  While indicators such as the issue about conspicuous consumption could conceivably appear endearing, however, it becomes increasingly apparent as the story progresses that the relationship between father and son is strained, that the father does not respect,...

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