‘The Fly’ is one the shortest of the fifteen good short stories in the realm of literature. The story is told within a very brief compass. The brevity has been achieved as the writher has worked by suggestion rather than explicit statements.
From the title to the whole story suggestions are scattered profusely. The title recalls the pessimistic statement exclaimed by a Shakespearian character about the mysterious relation between man and the gods. The gods kill men for their sport and men, a few of them, show courage and determination before. They go down fighting. The fly in the story symbolizes the unyielding spirit of man which withstands the onslaught of powerful adversaries. The boss stands for the wanton gods who are out to destroy men for their sport. As the boss rescued the fly from the inkpot he had an idea. One idea was to drag it into the arena of battle and put its life out. With this end in view he dropped a blot of ink on it when it was preparing for life. The fly remained subdued under the drop of ink ‘after of what world happen next’. This feeling of insecurity suggests the boss’s fear of uncertainty regarding his son’s future.
The tenacious fighting fly’s struggling for survival symbolizes the brave struggle of the boss’s son, he must have displayed before he fell. The link between the fly and Youngman through not explicitly started in the story is implicitly suggested. So the boss admires the insect’s pluck and mutters encouraging words to it. He also feels that the fly’s grappling with destructive forces should be emulated by all in utter disregard of death. That he places the fly and his son on equal footing becomes clear when he tenderly says to it, ‘you artful to b—’. The ‘B….’ stands for ‘boy’. He wants to restore it to life, breathes over it to help its drying process. His intense regret and penance as aftermath of his killing of the fly would be reduced to the level of the indecorous if no symbolical suggestion is adducted to the act. Symbolically interpreted the story of the fly gains a tragic intensity.
The son’s photograph kept for a long period on the boss’s table suggests a lot. The boss boastfully shows Woodifield everything except the photo —This suggests the father’s desire to keep the memory of his son only to himself. The photo is not satisfactory to boss —this suggests that the boy’s figure has undergone an idealistic transformation in his mind.
Apparently insignificant articles assumption importance in Mansfield’s hands. The paper knife appears twice in the story. In its first appearance, an indefinite article goes before it. With this paper cutter, the boss flips his ‘Financial Times’ in playful mood. Towards the conclusion of the episode the boss is shown lifting the fly’s corpse on it before it is thrown to the wastepaper basket. This with some instrument the boss performs two arts of opposed character one playful and other murderous. This suggests the dual nature of the wanton gods.