- 1. Why did Mr. Woodifield pay a visit to the boss? What did they talk about?
Mr. Woodifield was a retired old man. The sons of both, Mr. Woodifield and his boss had been killed in the First World War. Both, therefore, were highly grieved. Mr. Woodifield became a heart patient due to grief. His wife and daughters kept him all the days at home; except Tuesdays on which he was free to call on his old friends. One Tuesday he called on his ex-boss in his office to relieve himself. The boss, though five years older than Mr. Woodifield, looked healthier and stronger. Despite the grief of his son’s death, the boss was doing his business well. A beautiful photograph of the boss’s dead boy in uniform was lying on his table. Seeing the photograph Mr. Woodifield began to tremble. The boss offered him whisky, so that he might feel better; even though he knew that it was injurious to a heart-patient. After taking whisky Mr. Woodifield felt better. He told the boss that last week he, along with daughters, went to the graves of his son Reggie as well as his (boss) son. He added that their graves lay in a beautiful garden with wide paths and flowers all around. These words aroused the boss’ grief. Woodifield left but he was overwhelmed with grief. 210
Q.2. Describe the miserable condition of the boss after Mr. Woodifield’s departure.
Or Write down the memories of the boss about his dead son?
Or What did the boss feel when he came to know that Mr. Woodifield’s daughters visited the graveyard where his son was buried?
When Mr. Woodifield told the boss about his visit with his daughters to the graves of his son Reggie as well as his (boss) son in Belgium, the boss could not control his passions. He was in a miserable condition. He was overwhelmed with grief. He sunk his face into his hands. He shut himself in his room and asked his attendant Old Macey not to let anyone in. He imagined that his son’s grave had opened and he saw him lying in it. Six years had passed since his death, yet he imagined him lying in his uniform in the grave unchanged. For some months after his death he could not overcome the shock of the death of his only son. He went on weeping, but with the passage of time he composed himself. Then he remembered his son’s childhood. He was a promising boy, liked by the staff of his office. It was his only son who had given him some charm to live. He often took him to his office teaching him different techniques of business. He thought that his son would step into his shoes after him. Then one day Mackey gave him a telegram about his death. All of his hopes were dashed to the ground. 211
- 3. How and why did the boss kill the fly? 2001, 02
Or Describe briefly the fate of the fallen fly?
Or Why does the boss kill the fly with wanton cruelty? What does it signify? 02
The boss in this story proved to be a cruel and revengeful person. He killed the fly to take revenge of the death of his only son on the destiny. As fate has killed his son, he killed the fly with wanton cruelty. When Mr. Woodsfield told the boss about his visit with his daughters to the graves of his son Reggie as well as his (boss) son in Belgium, the boss could not control his passions. He was in a miserable condition. He was overwhelmed with grief. When the boss was looking at his dead son’s picture and recalling his son’s childhood, he saw a fly that had fallen into his broken inkpot. It was trying to come out, but fell back again and again. He picked it out with his pen. It dried its wings and was about to fly when he put a heavy drop of ink over it. It again dried its wings and attempted to fly, but he again dropped a blot of ink over it. It again cleaned its wings but the boss once again repeated his callous action. Three times, the fly made effort to escape from the clutches of death and was sure of its new life. The boss dropped one more drop of ink on it for fourth time. Now it was dead. Then he threw it into the waste-paper basket.
He killed the fly just to test its courage. This is how; the strong creatures normally kill weaker creatures in the world. Being stronger than the fly, the boss kilted the fly. 262
- 4. “The story is about the conquest of time over grief.” Discuss.
Or What is the theme or main idea of the story?
This is a symbolic story with more than one layers of meanings. It signifies the fact that time is the best healer. When the son of the boss died six years ago, fighting in the First World War, he thought that he could never forget and control his grief. Then he went on weeping for months together with no hope to recover. The memory of his beautiful, promising son always haunted him. He imagined him lying in his grave wearing his beautiful uniform. It was his only son who had given him some charm to live. He often took him to his office teaching him different techniques of business. He thought that his son would step into his shoes after him. His death made his life meaningless. It took away his courage to live. But with the passage of time he overcame his grief. He was taking keen interest in his business. He had recently decorated his office with new carpets and furniture, and made it comfortable. Thus the lapse of six years had lessened the intensity of his grief. He tried to keep himself busy as much as possible. 190
- 5. What does the title “The Fly” mean?
Or “As flies to the wanton boys are we to gods; they kill us for their sport.”
Or Everybody in the story is fly. Explain 2002-II
This is a symbolic story that can be interpreted in many ways. It is not simply the story of the death of a fly by the boss. The fly symbolizes all the creatures — birds, animals, insects and humans, who are killed mercilessly by the cruel hands of fate. The boss in the story symbolizes the fate. He kills the fly just out of fun or to test its courage and endurance. Similarly, the cruel hand of fate or chance kills human beings. As the boss killed the fly, the fate snatched his only son from him. The boss can also die like his son. Some bigger or stronger creature or force can also kill him. It normally happens that strong creatures kill the weak creatures.
Human beings are just like toys for gods who kill them for sport or pleasure. That is why Shakespeare said, “As flies to wanton boys are we to gods; they kill us for their sport.” A large number of innocent people die of diseases or as a result of accidents or bomb explosions just like flies before fate or death. Man is helpless before it. Thus the sons of Mr. Woodifield and the boss are just like flies to gods or fate. They were killed in the prime of their youth. The story, in fact, reflects the writer’s own life. She herself fell a victim to the cruel hands of fate as she died at thirty eight