What is the central theme of "The Fly"?

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One theme of this story addresses how desperate we are to maintain some semblance of control. The boss feels in control of the conversation with Woodifield, congratulating himself on his relative youthfulness despite the fact that he is actually older than his visitor, and he feels a "deep, solid satisfaction." Woodifield compliments the boss's office, the carpet, the electric heating, and the boss feels "exultant." He ordered all these changes himself. The boss even trots out his best whisky—to impress his visitor and control the interaction.

However, once Woodifield brings up their dead sons, something changes. Woodifield leaves shortly thereafter and "the boss stayed, staring at nothing." Then he attempts to cry—he "arranged to weep"—but finds he cannot. This, he cannot control. "It had been a terrible shock to him when old Woodifield sprang that remark upon him about the boy's grave." The boss's mental image of his son's grave is changed by the details Woodifield shares. He...

(The entire section contains 2 answers and 723 words.)

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