Fifth Business

Topics: Robertson Davies, Great Depression, Selfishness Pages: 5 (2114 words) Published: June 8, 2008
Fifth Business Essay
Almost anything taught in childhood relates to individuals actions in adulthood; without a proper upbringing, these individuals will never meet their one ultimate goal to be self satisfied. Many people start out as self-absorbed and childish individuals, but learn to evolve. Some people do not evolve and continue as a selfish unsatisfied adult. To be truly self-satisfied, one should have developed good values as a youth. In Fifth Business by Robertson Davies, there are many instances where this has happened and in contrast, instances where a good upbringing has affected a character’s adult life. Some people without an emotionally stable upbringing may become adults are bossy, self-absorbed, and destructive. These traits have both a positive and negative impact, but in most cases, the negative aspect often overtakes the positive aspect of the characters personality. Characters in Fifth Business who display these traits are Boy, and Dunstan. As adults, they are often seen vying for the attention of their peers or have an overpowering need to be popular and try to achieve success. Although, there are some instances where individuals are completely satisfied these are rare occurring. These special cases occur when the individual has adapted to the environment and learn to fit in. They forgive what happened in their childhood and are content to be mediocre. The individuals who do not fit in the special case try to use bully tactics or commit selfish acts. They also develop destructive behaviour without these values and are often on an eternal journey of ultimate satisfaction. In general, childhood values are the basis for adult well being; however, these people may develop their own values later in life and become somewhat satisfied with their successes. Individuals without good training while growing up, become destructive. Boy developed destructive behaviours as a child and was never disciplined. It started when he and Dunstan were children; Boy was always being a bully. One Christmas Dunstan had received a sled that was better than Boy’s and the reaction was not very friendly. Dunstan writes: “He slighted my sled, scoffed at my mittens, and at last came right out and said that his father was better than my father.”(1). Boy was so immature that he had to make himself feel better by insulting a friend. In contrast, Dunstan had always been more of a peace keeper. Dunstan’s reaction to these insults was not very destructive at all. Dunstan says, “Instead of hitting him, which might have started a fight that could have ended in a draw or even a defeat for me, I said, all right, then, I would go home and he could have the field for himself.”(1). Dunstan’s reaction was more acceptable, he chose not to fight because he used common sense not to fight a friend. Eventually, these destructive behaviours turned on Boy. Boy became so involved in business and politics it stressed him out to his limit. Boy was under so much stress that he tells Dunstan that he would like to get away from everything, ‘“But sometimes I wish I could get into a car and drive away from the whole damned thing.” ’ (246). Finally, Boy admits that he has taken on a task that is too much for him. This foreshadows his ultimate demise where he drove his car off the road into the water. Boy struggled with being, controlling, and a perfectionist all his life he soon came to a realisation that everything in his life was simply too much. Although Dustan and Boy are contrasting characters, they are similar in the fact that they were both destructive in the end. However, Dunstan’s destructive behaviours occur because he let others have control over him and suddenly he was in control. He states: “The day I found myself slapping one of the showgirls’ bottoms and winking when she made her ritual protest, I knew that something was terribly wrong with Dunstan Ramsey” (218). Dunstan had been relieved of his usual duties and now he was in control of his...
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