The Death Of The Boss In Ted E. Boyle's The Fly

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Ted E. Boyle argues in his essay “The Death of the Boss: Another Look at Katherine Mansfield’s ‘The Fly’” that the boss in Katherine Mansfield’s “The Fly” is in fact spiritually dead. According to Boyle, the boss has been consumed by materialism after his son’s death and is no longer really alive. This whole argument, while overall a valid interpretation, seems slightly questionable at times, especially when it comes to the ample attention paid to the boss’s materialism. Boyle takes the boss’s thoughts – specifically his declarations of grief and love – at face value, missing the notion that the boss in his conflicted emotional state is not entirely reliable as a narrator and has not actually been mourning for his son as deeply as he thinks he has. However, Boyle does take up one key point: the fact that the boss clearly tries very hard to grieve for his son despite being unable to do so. Throughout the story the boss makes considerable efforts to feel something at the thought of his dead son, not because he wants to keep himself spiritually alive, but because he has not yet fully processed the fact that his son is dead, and his grief is his way of keeping the son alive. The key thing to note in the beginning of the story are the parallels…show more content…
Six years on, he is still stuck in denial, the very first stage of grief, and is unable to truly move on with his life. He is afraid of finally losing his son completely if he accepts the fact that he is dead, so instead he goes to great pains to keep him alive by arranging to grieve for him even when he cannot spontaneously do so. Even in the end, when the reality is forced upon him by the fly’s death, the boss immediately reverts into his previous state of mind as if the realization had never happened. After all, “we cling to our last pleasures as the tree clings to its last leaves” (926), and the boss is no
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