The Fly

by

Katherine Mansfield

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Woodifield Character Analysis

The elderly Mr. Woodifield visits his former employer, the boss, every Tuesday in London for company. Having retired following a stroke, Woodifield is a trembling, forgetful, dim-eyed and shrunken man who spends most of his days stuck in the house and being bossed around by his wife and daughters. He admires how the boss, who is five years his senior, has somehow maintained his youthful vigor despite his age. The boss gains great satisfaction from Woodifield’s weekly visit, as his unreliable memory means the boss can regularly boast of his new office furnishings. However, on this occasion, Woodifield’s unexpected declaration that his daughters were recently in Belgium to visit his son Reggie’s grave unsettles the boss. Woodifield’s ramblings trigger internal conflict for the boss, as Woodifield’s reference to the boss’s son’s own well-kept grave forces the boss to grapple with the painful repercussions of the war six years later.

Woodifield Quotes in The Fly

The The Fly quotes below are all either spoken by Woodifield or refer to Woodifield. 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

“Y’are very snug in here,” piped old Mr. Woodifield, and he peered out of the great, green-leather arm-chair by his friend the boss’s desk as a baby peers out of its pram.

Related Characters: Woodifield (speaker), The Boss
Page Number: 343
Explanation and Analysis:

So there sat old Woodifield, smoking a cigar and staring almost greedily at the boss, who rolled in his office chair, stout, rosy, five years older than he, and still going strong, still at the helm. It did one good to see him.

Related Characters: The Boss, Woodifield
Page Number: 343
Explanation and Analysis:

“It’s whiskey, ain’t it?” he piped feebly. The boss turned the bottle and lovingly showed him the label. Whiskey it was. “D’you know,” said he, peering up at the boss wonderingly, “they wont let me touch it at home.” And he looked as though he was going to cry. “Ah, that’s where we know a bit more than the ladies,” cried the boss […].

Related Characters: The Boss (speaker), Woodifield (speaker), Woodifield’s Daughters, Woodifield’s Wife
Page Number: 344
Explanation and Analysis:

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:

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

Woodifield Character Timeline in The Fly

The timeline below shows where the character Woodifield appears in The Fly. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
The Fly
Performances of Masculinity Theme Icon
...a Tuesday in an office in “the City,” the boss and his former employee Mr. Woodifield are midway through conversation. “Old Woodifield” is seated in an immense armchair, looking out “as... (full context)
Consequences of War Theme Icon
Performances of Masculinity Theme Icon
Memory Theme Icon
The boss, idly flipping through the Financial Times, affirms Woodifield’s comments about the plush office, smug at the attention—“he liked to have it admired, especially... (full context)
Performances of Masculinity Theme Icon
Memory Theme Icon
Woodifield grows frustrated that he cannot recall a detail he greatly wants to share with the... (full context)
Consequences of War Theme Icon
Memory Theme Icon
After a sip of whiskey, Woodifield suddenly remembers the detail he wanted to share with the boss: while visiting their brother... (full context)
Consequences of War Theme Icon
Performances of Masculinity Theme Icon
Memory Theme Icon
After Woodifield leaves, the boss stands for a long moment, staring at nothing. Macey, the elderly office... (full context)