Explanations of Catherine Mansfield's Short Story "The Fly"

1. “At that moment the boss noticed that a fly had fallen…it was ready for life again”
After the departure of Mr. Woodifield, the boss remained morbidly engrossed in the thoughts of his dead son. He was extremely agonized to remember that his son, who was all to him, had died. At that moment, he found that a fly had fallen into his inkpot and was trying to come out of it. He was fascinated by the sight of a tiny little fly’s endeavour to come out of the pot. It seemed to the boss that the legs of the fly were crying for help. As the sides of the pot were slippery, it slid down. The boss helped the fly with his pen to come out of it and put it on a piece of paper. For a moment it seemed that it was dead. But at the next moment it waved its legs and began to clear its body with immense effort. It succeeded in drying up its legs, body and the wing, and sit on its legs. It tried to expand its wings and was now ready for a flight. The boss could realize the horror of death it had escaped.
2. “But just then the boss had an idea…the task began from the beginning…it was only a question of…”
After the departure of Mr. Woodifield, the boss remained morbidly engrossed in the thoughts of his dead son. He was extremely agonized to remember that his son, who was all to him, had died. At that moment, he found that a fly had fallen into his inkpot and was trying to come out of it. He was fascinated by the sight of a tiny little fly’s endeavour to come out of the pot. It seemed to the boss that the legs of the fly were crying for help. As the sides of the pot were slippery, it slid down. The boss helped the fly with his pen to come out of it and put it on a piece of paper. For a moment it seemed that it was dead. But at the next moment it waved its legs and began to clear its body with immense effort. It succeeded in drying up its legs, body and the wing, and sit on its legs. It tried to expand its wings and was now ready for a flight. The boss could realize the horror of death it had escaped. But at the next moment he was possessed with an idea: he simply put his pen inside the pot and took out a heavy drop, which fell on the fly. The boss was fascinated at the sight of the fly’s being totally dumbfounded at what happened with it. It seemed to the boss that it was now afraid of moving. But then it tried to get out of the whole burden laboriously and began cleaning its body yet again. The boss was very much impressed with the fly’s efforts for saving its life.
3. “But the fly had again finished its laborious task…And he actually had the brilliant notion of breathing on it to drying process…the boss decided that this time should be the last…But such a grinding feeling of wretchedness seized him that he felt positively frightened…pressed the bell for Macey.”
After the departure of Mr. Woodifield, the boss remained morbidly engrossed in the thoughts of his dead son. He was extremely agonized to remember that his son, who was all to him, had died. At that moment, he found that a fly had fallen into his inkpot and was trying to come out of it. He was fascinated by the sight of a tiny little fly’s endeavour to come out of the pot. The boss helped the fly with his pen to come out of it and put it on a piece of paper. But at the next moment it waved its legs and began to clear its body with immense effort. It succeeded in drying up its legs, body and the wing, and sit on its legs. It tried to expand its wings and was now ready for a flight. The boss could realize the horror of death it had escaped. But at the next moment he was possessed with an idea: he simply put his pen inside the pot and took out a heavy drop, which fell on the fly. The boss was fascinated at the sight of the fly’s being totally dumbfounded at what happened with it The boss was very much impressed with the fly’s efforts for saving its life. But he was possessed with a peculiar, almost abnormal attitude to the fly; while he wanted to help it dry up, he also wanted to check out its stamina. As soon as it finished with drying, he took out a heavy drop and let it fall on the fly. Now the fly was completely subdued. It became still. It died. This incident filled the boss with a wretched feeling. He was horrified at his deed. He pressed the bell and ordered his servant to bring some fresh blotting paper. He was puzzled to think what he was thinking about and what led him to kill the little creature.
Comment 
The author through the presentation of the fly here tries to bring home the difference between life and death. The boss could realize the horror of death because he had gone through the experience through his son’s death. Perhaps he was trying to weigh out the difference. Again, it may be that he was possessed by a desire to help the little creature, which, otherwise would go down the pot. In fact, he was identifying the fly with himself, as both of them were trying to come to terms with life and death. But moments later the same person was possessed by a sadistic desire and killed the fly. The irony is that he could not understand the reason behind his acting so unreasonably.

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