This overreaction is perceived as weakness by the son, and driven by pity, he offers his father some money. Immediately the passion and vigor returns to his father, and the shrewd, cunning businessman reemerges and brutally demands to know why he had not been offered this money sooner.
What does the title mean?
Firstly we should take a look at the title since it could provide some insight into why certain aspects of this story are present. 'A fly in the ointment' is a proverb or saying that basically means that something spoils a situation that could have been pleasant. This is shown in the short story literally by a fly which enters the room and causes such an overreaction by the old man that foreshadows text that shows that everything is not as they seem; things are not alright.
Why the father is such a memorable character:
The young man, the son, is shown in the first paragraph to rather walk a distance than show up in a cab in front of his father since he thinks 'The old man will wonder where I got the money'. This quote is the first sign that shows the reader that the old man is concerned with money.
The author uses two statements to show the demise of the business, firstly '...building a business out of nothing, and then, after a few years of prosperity, letting it go to pieces in chafer of rumour, idleness, quarrels, accusations and, at last, bankruptcy.' The sons questions whether 'they were telling the truth when they said the old man was a crook and that his balance sheets were cooked?' and then secondly, later in the story the narrator shows the son's thoughts when he thinks the father will tell him the embarrassing truth