The Character of Boss in "The Fly"

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CHARACTER OF THE BOSS IN KATHERINE MANSFIELD's THE FLY

Katherine Mansfield’s short story The Fly is taken from the collection 'Dove’s Nest' and inspired by her dear brother Leslie’s death, it is one of her finest short stories. The Fly is the story of a person haunted for six years by the death of his son. It is the depiction of anguish. Mansfield’s technique in her stories was to make her characters show their thoughts by a kind of mental soliloquy ‘fluttering, gossipy, breathless with questions and answers.’ Moreover like Lawrence she creates an intense atmosphere through suggestive details. The character of the Boss in the story The Fly is represented through dialogue, monologue and symbolism. These are the three clear cut sections in the story. The first introduction to boss is to his outside appearance. The second ventures into his mind. The third presents a thoroughly complex character that one has to think over.

The Boss is introduced through a conversation with his friend Woodifield. We realize Woodifield is old, retired, physically weak, and financially not very well off. Boss is presented through the method of contrast. The Boss is stout, rosy, healthy, although five years senior to him, but still going strong and in control of affairs. The Boss has done well for himself. He has a comfortable office with new carpet, new furniture, electric heating and with all the physical comforts that would give him ‘solid satisfaction’. But all this is appearance. The chink in the armour is the photograph of a grave looking boy in uniform. It was not new, it had been there for six years. The photograph strikes the discordant note. It is one old thing in all that is new. It hides a secret. It is a story of agony that the boss wants to avoid. So he does not draw attention to the photograph. But Mansfield’s process of breaking the appearance has started. She does it through Woodifield. The latter tries to remember something. The Boss feels sympathy for him. This...
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