What is the theme of "The Fly"?  

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One theme that is evident in "The Fly" is the cruel and lasting effects of war.

In the boss's office is a photograph of his son; his image has solemnly and silently been a presence in the office for over six years. The young man is dressed in a military uniform, with storm clouds behind him. This was the boss's only son; he had sacrificed endlessly to create a strong business to one day transfer to his son. War ended those plans, and the boss feels that his life now has no purpose.

His loss is even more painful because of his son's personality. People everywhere congratulated the boss on his good fortune; his son was bright, well-spoken, and charming. He had even begun to spend time in his father's office to learn some of the basics of the business.

The grief the boss feels is so absolute that he has never been able to travel to his son's grave. When Woodifield mentions the grave, the boss again collapses into feelings of hopelessness. His pain is so deep that he feels as if "it might have happened yesterday."

He then turns his grief into brutality, becoming the aggressor against a helpless fly. He tortures the fly over and over, allowing it to almost gain the ability to fly before dousing it in ink once more. He methodically watches as the fly's life leaves its body and it can no longer move.

The story therefore demonstrates the unavoidable cruelties of warfare. Its losses are far-reaching, ending the dreams and plans of those who are not even directly involved in the war. The story also suggests that people who have suffered deeply painful losses in wars may demonstrate a greater brutality in their own spheres of influence.

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