V. S. Pritchett

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

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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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