What is the relationship between the father and son in "The Fly in the Ointment"

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M.P. Ossa eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The father-son relationship in V.S. Pritchett "The Fly in the Ointment" is conflicting because it is hindered by several things: a) the financial problems of, both, the father and the son; b) the father's tendency to emasculate and humiliate the son, c) the son's own sense of inadequacy as a result of his father's abbrasice and verbally-abusive behavior. This abusive behavior consists mainly on making the son feel lesser due to his choice of career.

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.

In many ways, we could say that the relationship has come to a point where the son has become used to "walk on eggshells", that is, that he is consistently nervous about causing a reaction on his father. He is always worried about antagonizing with his father. He has a sense of loyalty, which is the reason why he comes to his father's aid when money runs low and he finds himself in the position to help a bit. However, what seems to still keep them connected is the fact that, as with every dysfunctional family, the negative attention and negative feedback of an already negative situation become the norm, rather than the exception.