Analysis of "The Winter Flies" by Fritz Leiber

This is a story about a family of three which seems to be quite normal. What makes this family extraordinary is their imaginations and how they are able to create their own pockets of reality. The most interesting of these is the reality that the father seems to create and it is the focus of the story. Gott can create imaginary people in his own reality from some kind of black putty. This imaginary people are THE MAN IN THE BLACK FLANNEL SUIT, THE BLACK JESTER, THE BLACK GIRL, THE BLACK CRONE, THE PHILOSOPHER, and finally DEATH. Each of these represents what Gott knows about himself and his own emotional state.

Imaginary Person Meaning
THE MAN IN THE BLACK FLANNEL SUIT GREED, POWER, CORRUPTION, DECEPTION
THE BLACK JESTER SELF-DOUBT
THE BLACK GIRL LUST
THE BLACK CRONE APPREHENSION OF THE MOTHER OR MOTHER-IN-LAW, SHAME
THE PHILOSOPHER DESIRE FOR KNOWLEDGE/WISDOM
DEATH FEAR OF OBLIVION

Gott's wife Jane has an interesting ability to communicate with household appliances. This, I believe, is an exaggeration of what male's know about housewives. We expect a housewife to know her way around the kitchen but this takes that concept to a quite humorous extreme. Then there is Heine, there son who's imagination at first appears to be quite normal for a child of his age but it would appear he also has an unusual power. While he is sitting in his chair his imagination actually takes him to outer space. It is at the end that his ability collides with his father's when Gott's image of DEATH is summoned. Heine was almost lost because DEATH had broken his line back. This shows the power of a father has over his own child and how quickly a child can be lost.


Jonathan R. Alsip