The Fly

by

Katherine Mansfield

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The Boss’s Son Character Analysis

The boss’s only child and heir to the business. The boy’s death during World War I results in the boss’s loss of assured business succession—something the boss centered his whole life purpose around. Beyond considering the boy’s death, the boss does not share many details about his son, except that he undertook a year-long apprenticeship at the office where he was popular with the boss’s employees. The boss’s son’s grave is in Belgium near that of Woodifield’s son, Reggie.

The Boss’s Son Quotes in The Fly

The The Fly quotes below are all either spoken by The Boss’s Son or refer to The Boss’s Son. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Consequences of War Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Vintage edition of The Fly published in 1956.
The Fly Quotes

The door shut, the firm heavy steps recrossed the bright carpet, the fat body plumped down in the spring chair, and leaning forward, the boss covered his face with his hands. He wanted, he intended, he had arranged to weep….

Related Characters: The Boss (speaker), Woodifield, The Boss’s Son
Page Number: 346
Explanation and Analysis:

His boy was an only son. Ever since his birth the boss had worked at building up this business for him; it had no other meaning if it was not for the boy. Life itself had come to have no other meaning. How on earth could he have slaved, denied himself, kept going all those years without the promise for ever before him of the boy’s stepping into his shoes and carrying on where he left off?

Related Characters: The Boss (speaker), The Boss’s Son
Page Number: 346
Explanation and Analysis:

Six years ago, six years…. How quickly time passed! It might have happened yesterday. The boss took his hands from his face; he was puzzled. Something seemed to be wrong with him. He wasn’t feeling as he wanted to feel. He decided to get up and have a look at the boy’s photograph. But it wasn’t a favourite photograph of his; the expression was unnatural. It was cold, even stern-looking. The boy had never looked like that.

Related Characters: The Boss (speaker), The Boss’s Son
Page Number: 347
Explanation and Analysis:

At that moment the boss noticed that a fly had fallen into his broad inkpot, and was trying feebly but desperately to clamber out again. Help! Help! Said those struggling legs. But the sides of the inkpot were wet and slippery; it fell back again and began to swim.

Related Characters: The Boss, Woodifield, The Boss’s Son
Related Symbols: The Fly
Page Number: 347
Explanation and Analysis:

He’s a plucky little devil, thought the boss, and he felt a real admiration for the fly’s courage. That was the way to tackle things; that was the right spirit. Never say die; it was only a question of ….

Related Characters: The Boss, Woodifield, The Boss’s Son
Related Symbols: The Fly
Page Number: 347
Explanation and Analysis:

The boss lifted the corpse on the end of the paper-knife and flung it into the waste-paper basket. But such a grinding feeling of wretchedness seized him that he felt positively frightened. He started forward and pressed the bell for Macey.

Related Characters: The Boss, Woodifield, The Boss’s Son, Macey
Related Symbols: The Fly
Page Number: 348
Explanation and Analysis:

“Bring me some fresh blotting paper,” he said sternly, “and look sharp about it.” And while the old dog padded away he fell to wondering what it was he had been thinking about before. What was it? It was…. He took out his handkerchief and passed it inside his collar. For the life of him he could not remember.

Related Characters: The Boss (speaker), Woodifield, The Boss’s Son, Macey
Related Symbols: The Fly
Page Number: 348
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire The Fly LitChart as a printable PDF.
The Fly PDF

The Boss’s Son Character Timeline in The Fly

The timeline below shows where the character The Boss’s Son appears in The Fly. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
The Fly
Consequences of War Theme Icon
Memory Theme Icon
...with the boss: while visiting their brother Reggie’s grave in Belgium, Woodifield’s daughters came across the boss’s son ’s grave. The boss sits still, making no reply to this revelation. Woodifield describes the... (full context)
Consequences of War Theme Icon
Performances of Masculinity Theme Icon
Memory Theme Icon
...sinks into his chair, covering his face with his hands and intending to weep for his son . The thought of Woodifield’s daughters peering down into his son’s grave is unsettling, and... (full context)
Consequences of War Theme Icon
Performances of Masculinity Theme Icon
The boss recalls how ever since his son ’s birth, the boss had built up a successful business so that his son—his “only... (full context)
Consequences of War Theme Icon
Performances of Masculinity Theme Icon
Memory Theme Icon
...six years have passed, the boss is dismayed by his current inability to grieve for his son . The boss feels that something is “wrong with him,” because he isn’t feeling the... (full context)
Consequences of War Theme Icon
Memory Theme Icon
A fly drowning in the boss’s inkpot suddenly draws his attention away from memories of his son . The boss watches the fly slips back down the sides of the inkpot each... (full context)