Provide a character descriptions of Harold in V.S. Pritchett's short story, "The Fly In The Ointment."

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booboosmoosh's profile pic

booboosmoosh | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

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In V.S. Pritchett's "The Fly in the Ointment," we learn that Harold is a character who is capable of change even in the face of cruel behavior by his dad.

Harold is in his thirties. He has hair that is thinning on the back of his head. We get the sense that he is eager to keep the peace: when he arrives at his father's factory, he leaves the cab some distance so his father doesn't pester him about how he was able to afford renting a cab.

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

We learn that there has been fighting in the family because of money. Harold is willing to put this aside for the sake of his father's failing business. Harold is kind: he has come to lend his father some moral support, for the son has no money to give him. Harold's father has been hateful. There are two examples in the story. When Harold first arrives, his father greets him:

"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.

Still, Harold tries to make polite small talk; he worries about his dad, which only annoys the older man. Then his sire criticizes Harold because he is balding. Instead of getting angry, the son does his best to offer his concern for the man who fathered him, but who is not much of a father.

Harold has a kind heart: seeing his father seemingly so lost as his long-standing business fails, even aware that his father has swindled people financially through his business dealings, and treated his son with nothing but contempt, Harold does not turn away or confront his father.

Harold is a much better man than his father could ever be.

 

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muniahsan's profile pic

muniahsan | Student | eNotes Newbie

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harold can be considered as a very sensitive,straight forward,simple minded,compassionate,solicitude and lucid personality who has a personality of helping others in their bad times like he came to console his father from the loss he has suffered although  his father kept on making his fun like''come in professor''.harold was a poorly paid lecturer at a provincial university.by the writer he is described as a round shouldered and shabby person who is a keen and an anxious fellow deliberately in need of a hair cut and going bald.he feels very shamful of offering his own father charity who had always felt himself inferior to his father so this shows that he is concerned about his father and similary he doesn't want to hurt his father by offering him money.

alisharox's profile pic

alisharox | Student, Grade 9 | (Level 1) eNoter

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Harold, one of the main characters of the story. Physically, he is poor, shabbily dressed and balding.However, he has many qualities:

Harold is a loving son, who cares about his father. This is evident from the fact that he visitd his bankrupt father to offer him moral support, even though they have a troubled relationship and he does not have anything to offer to his money-minded father.

He is also a self-respecting man. When his father criticizes him for his baldness and unambitious nature, he defies his father and talks back to him:

'Well,' said his son, still smiling, but sharply. He was very angry. 'One's enough in the family. You've thought big till you bust.'

Yet he is afarid of his father. He dared not confront his father, and if he did, he tried to cover it up.

'I mean,' said the son, hurriedly covering up in a panic, 'I'm not like you...I...'

Also, as his father leaned forward to state his perception, Harold immediately leaned back.

Harold also notices minute details. He notices his fathers 'eyes go hard', and also the sunlight 's effect on making his father look like a convict.

Finally, we notice that Harold is peaceful and prefes to avoid confrontations. He walks a quarter of a mile so that his father will not criticize him for coming in a cab.

 He does not have much to offer the world in terms of material possesions. However, he embodies many good qualities which makes him invaluable to any society.

khocha's profile pic

khocha | Student, Grade 9 | (Level 1) eNoter

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harold was a 35 year old man who was short and shabby looking, half bald, he was a humble person and one who would forget the past and help a person in need as he made an offer of money to his father. although the father made fun of harold ' come in professor. this was an old family joke..' he still came to see and help his father. the son was quiet a noticer as he figured out the truth about his fathers personality ' like all other businessmen his father had two faces..' he is a shy man who gets ticked off when a person touches his pride as when the father told him to think big he replied ' you've thought big till you bust..' although he never meant it and tried to cover it up. this also shows that he was sensitive.. ' he was overcome by the sadness of his fathers situation..' he was understanding and loyal towards his father as he said that he would do anything to raise money for his father - an immediate neccessity.

angel786's profile pic

angel786 | Student, Grade 9 | (Level 2) eNoter

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he was a decent man and was a loving son.he was poor but his father never tries to help hin but when his father was in difficulty he was there to resolve the problems of his father.

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