In Katherine Mansfield’s story “The Fly,” Mr. Woodifield is an older man who has retired from his work and has suffered a stroke. He mostly stays at home, where his wife and daughters care for him. Yet Mr. Woodifield often feels like he is “boxed up in the house.”
On Tuesdays, however, Mr. Woodifield’s family helps him dress, and he is “allowed” to go into the city for the day. This is when he has a chance to visit the boss and experience a little bit of normalcy for a while. Apparently Mr. Woodifield once worked for the boss’s company, or at least in a similar business, and the two are friends.
Mr. Woodifield’s family hopes that he is not making “a nuisance of himself to his friends,” and the narrator suspects that this may be so. Indeed, Mr. Woodifield probably stays longer in the boss’s office than he might do, and the narrator describes him as “staring almost greedily” at his friend. Mr. Woodifield misses the active, engaged life he once had. He misses going to the office every day and working and socializing with people. His life, which was once broad and full, has become narrow and limited. Perhaps that cannot be helped considering his health, but Mr. Woodifield longs for what he once had and what the boss still has. Visiting with the boss and his other friends gives him at least a taste of his former life.