“The Fly,” written by Katherine Mansfield, is a short story about a troubled man called “the boss.” We are first introduced to Mr. Woodifield and his familial struggles but eventually, the story takes an unpredictable turn in that we realize the plot focuses around the boss. Woodifield remains not as a minor nor a major character, but remains as a key element of the plot that pushes to the point of the story: the boss’s grief over his son and how he chooses to express his grief. Although Woodifield is already struggling with his own family problems, we find out that his struggle is only an introduction to a far more serious and dramatic situation involving the boss and his son. The story quickly becomes dark when the boss suddenly notices a fly trying to save itself from being drowned in pen ink. He is immediately intrigued by the fly’s determination and bravery but is then somehow engulfed in a sadistic state of violence and murder, ultimately causing the fly to fall into an unfortunate predicament. Once he wakes from his sadistic state, it is as if nothing had happened and he returns to his usual business during the day.
The sadistic characteristics hidden underneath the boss’s exterior reminded me of Vincent Van Gogh’s troubled mind. Van Gogh’s struggle against madness is similar to the boss’s struggle against grief and trauma over his son. Van Gogh’s struggle against madness can be seen through his use of dark colors in his artwork such as “Starry Night” and, while the boss’s struggle against his feelings is expressed through the fly’s doomed predicament.
“The Fly” is similar to Mary Yukari Waters’s “The Aftermath.” Both stories exhibit an adult figure exhibiting negative feelings over the well-being of his or her son. However, the stories are different in the way that the boss in “The Fly” is distraught over his son’s death, while the mother, Makiko, in “The Aftermath” is not distraught but anxious and worrisome over the American influence over her son.