Death by Ink: Katherine Mansfield’s “The Fly” Revisited

Slovakia, ID CLEaR2015-307;

In spite of its very short length, Katherine Mansfield’s anti-war story “The Fly” belongs among her most discussed ones; in 1940s through 60s it even provoked what John Hagopian referred to as “critical guerilla warfare”. However, the debate usually centers on the significance of the main symbol – the diminutive fly itself. To the best of our knowledge, the other, very important element in the understanding of the symbolism of the whole story, the fact that the fly is killed by drops of ink from the main character’s pen, so far escaped any critical attention. This paper’s aim is to discuss possible interpretations of ink as the “murder” weapon with respect to its symbolical associations with the Great War bureaucracy and its consequences.