Fifth Business

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Collisions with Reality

Padre Blazon, a character in the novel Fifth Business, said: “If you think her a saint, she is a saint to you.” (Davis 165). This quote implies that what a person may believe as true in their mind will only remain true in their mind. This quote reveals the theme of illusions verses realities in the novel Fifth Business written by Robertson Davis. The conflict between illusions and realities is the most established theme in the novel. It prevails through aspects of faith verses reality, psychological truth verses reality, and myth verses reality.

A psychological truth Dunstan Ramsay posses in the novel is the belief that Mary Dempster is a saint. Even at a young age, Dunstan believed that “She lived by a light that arose from within.” (46). As a result of this belief Dunstan had, he then got interested in saints and continued to study it until he became an expert in hagiology. But his efforts are futile, because later on he learns that Mary Dempster is merely a fool-saint. A fool-saint is someone who seems to have all the qualities of a saint, except for Prudence. But Dunstan chooses to ignore this fact and continued on with believing that she is a saint. He disregarded the reality and believed in his own psychological truth.

Dunstan’s life long friend and enemy, Boy Staunton is also someone who believed in his own psychological truth. It was Boy, called Percy during childhood, who threw the snowball that contained a stone at Mary Dempster. The responsibility for this incident is equal on Boy and Dunstan. Dunstan chooses to confront it and accept the responsibility. But when Dunstan confronts Boy about this incident, Boy changed the story to “I threw a snowball at you, and I guess it gave you a good smack.” (17). He denied the occurrence of this incident from the beginning. When Dunstan brings up the subject many years later, Boy has even forgotten about this incident. Though, because Dunstan has reminded him about...
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