What characters are in "The Fly" by Katherine Mansfield?  

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Mr. Woodifield is a retired, older man who ventures out of his home once a week, on Tuesdays. He has had a stroke, which has presumably led to his retirement. He very much wants to remain relevant, and he enjoys visiting his friend, referred to as "the boss," who is five years older than Woodifield and is still on the job.

The boss is a proud man who enjoys showing off his office, which has been recently refurbished, to the envy of Mr. Woodifield. He and Woodifield have both lost sons in the war, and their sons are buried in Belgium.

Macey is the office messenger, and he, too, is not young. He does the bidding of the boss.

The titular character, the fly, falls into the boss's inkwell. After initially helping it by lifting it out, the boss tortures the fly by shaking ink onto it until he kills it.

The point of view of the story is third-person.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

"The Fly" by Katherine Mansfield is a short story that was published in 1922. It is a lonely and sad story in general, but those feelings are compounded by the story's small cast of characters.  

The story has only two major characters in it, and only one of those two characters is given a proper name.  

Mr. Woodifield is an old man in declining health, and the story begins with him visiting the office of his boss, the other main character.  

Most of the story is about Mr. Woodifield's boss. He is a financially well-off character, but an emotional wreck. The main cause of that is because his son died in World War I six years earlier. 

The remaining characters are quite minor:  

Macey is the office clerk. 

Reggie is Mr. Woodifield's dead son.

Gertrude is one of Mr. Woodifield's daughters. The other daughter is not named.  

The fly that the boss tortures and kills is the final character. 

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team
Soaring plane image

We’ll help your grades soar

Start your 48-hour free trial and unlock all the summaries, Q&A, and analyses you need to get better grades now.

  • 30,000+ book summaries
  • 20% study tools discount
  • Ad-free content
  • PDF downloads
  • 300,000+ answers
  • 5-star customer support
Start your 48-Hour Free Trial