Questions and Answers from Katherine Mansfield’s “The Fly”

1. Explain the title of the short story The Fly.

Ans:  The title of the story The Fly is given symbolically. Mansfield wants to show the helplessness and wretchedness of the Boss through the helplessness of the fly in the cruel hand of superpowers. The Boss plays the role of the Fate or Destiny of the fly. He inflicts pain to the fly to enjoy pleasure. We, human beings, are also the playthings to the hand of Fate. God kills us when he wishes to do so as the Boss’s son died in a very premature age. Thus the symbolic title is just and appropriate.

2. Who is Mr Woodifield? What is the physical condition of Mr Woodifield at the time when the story The Fly opens?

Ans: Mr Woodifield is one of the characters of Katherine Mansfield’s story The Fly. He was one of the friends of the Boss.
At the beginning of the story, we see him an old man, weak and feeble because of his age and also for he had suffered from a stroke a few months earlier. He was not permitted to go out of the home on any day except on Tuesday.

3. What role does Mr Woodifield play in the story The Fly?

Ans: Mr Woodfield is an ‘everyman’ in this material world. He serves as a foil to the Boss. He came to the Boss and sharpened his nature to reveal his psychology. It is he who went to the Boss and reminded him of his son’s death and disturbed his hidden sorrow.

4. Give your impression of the Boss.

Ans: The Boss had a stout and rosy stature. He was a successful and prosperous businessman. The Boss was also a gentleman of dignity and personality. He was also perfectly hospitable and polite. But he had a great shock in his heart which he had suppressed.

5. In what did the Boss take pride? What did he like?

Ans: The Boss took pride in his office room, which was well furnished with all the latest amenities of life. The Boss liked his office room to be admired, particularly by old Woodfield, because it gave him a sense of success, a sort of superiority over the latter. He liked his friend to feel humiliated from the standpoint of material gain.

6. Describe the office of the Boss.

Ans. The Boss decorated his office with expensive items to make it look cosy. There was a comfortable green-leather armchair in the chamber of the Boss. The floor was covered with a bright red new carpet with a pattern of large white rings. There was also new furniture- the massive bookcase, the table with legs like twisted treacle. The Boss also showed to Woodfield to the electric heating that he bought lately.

7. The fly was dead.”- When was the fly dead?

Ans: The fly was dead when the Boss dropped ink on it for the third time. When the Boss caused the first drop of ink on its new-cleaned body only to test its power of endurance, the fly struggled hard to escape and get rid of the sudden danger. Even it escaped for the second time. But when the Boss gave the third drop, it failed to endure the struggle as it went beyond its capacity. It died.