The protagonist of the story, who is referred to as only “the boss”, is a hardworking man and clearly enjoys being in control. However, the boss cannot control his feelings he has towards his son 's death, thus these feelings tear away at him for many years. Just bringing up his son’s grave pains him. When the boss’s old friend, Woodifield, mentions how his girls visited his son 's grave, the boss doesn 't even reply to his friend’s remark, “Only a quiver in his eyelids showed that he heard” implying that the boss wants to hide his feelings for his son’s death. After Woodifield leaves with his comment burning in the boss’s mind, the tone of the story changes from a warm, friendly feeling to a more doleful one: “For a long moment the boss stayed, staring at nothing,” and the boss even says, "I 'll see nobody for half an hour” to his messenger, suggesting that he needed time to grieve. Or so he thought. This time the boss was unable to cry over the loss of his son, instead he finds himself wondering wha...
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... able to shake off the struggle that barred on their backs. At times that struggle can come back, for instance, the boss “plunging his pen back into the inkpot” only to blot the fly with more ink, or when Woodifield mentions the son’s grave, indicating that the struggle is not yet over. The boss decides that one more time should be the last: “The last blot fell on the soaked blotting-paper, and the draggled fly lay in it and did not stir”, this quote suggest that there is only so much pain and struggle an individual can endure until they just let go. After his final inkblot on the fly, the boss understood that “Nothing happened or was likely to happen. The fly was dead.” The same goes for his grief over his son. When he wanted to cry nothing happened, no tears came, his grief was dead. The boss simply forgets what he was even thinking about and goes on with his day.
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