Symbolism is a literary device utilized by many authors. An example of a short story that employs the use of symbolism is Katherine Mansfield's “The Fly”. The symbols in “The Fly” reflect the boss's struggle to overcome the tragic passing of his son. The best examples of the symbols used are: the new furniture; the pot of jam; and the fly.
The new furniture that the boss has installed, and obsesses over, represents the boss's attempt to forget about the death of his son. He has designed the furniture to be fitting, comfortable, and bright, to create a positive atmosphere. The boss is somewhat egocentric about it, and draws Woodifield's attention to it, “but he did not draw old Woodifield's attention to the photograph” (Mansfield, 274) of his son dressed in uniform. The photograph represents the boss's devastation. All the sadness brought upon him by the death of his son is within that photograph. That is why when Woodifield brings up the remark about his girls visiting Reggie's grave, the boss's mood completely shifts in tone, and reminds him of his son. “It was exactly as though the earth had opened and he had seen the boy lying there” (Mansfield, 276). The furniture gives the boss a distraction in order to escape this state of depression he is trying to avoid. When Woodifield admires the furniture, it gives the boss a “feeling of deep, solid satisfaction” (Mansfield, 274). Satisfaction is an emotion the boss does not otherwise feel beyond his struggle to overcome the passing of his son, and the furniture is one of the symbols that reflects this struggle.
The major symbolism of the story, however, is represented by the fly in two ways. The fly represents the type of man the boss wants to be, and maybe was. The boss has faced struggles of his own; building the company, grooming his son, the reality of the war, and finally the death of his son. When the boss sees the fly crawl out of the ink, it inspires him. He becomes fascinated seeing that something can...
Please join StudyMode to read the full document