Adversity is the most important factor in shaping character and/or identity. Assess the validity of this statement with reference to Fifth Business. Identity is individual characteristics by which a person is known or recognized. In Fifth Business, a character’s reaction to adversity is the foundation to shaping identity. Others may not know what the adversity is but they observe the way a person is acting. The composure held in rough situations allows people to formulate opinions based on these reactions. This is shown through the challenges of dealing with guilt, trying to achieve being better than others and trying to escape their past identities. A main adversity faced in Fifth Business is guilt. The guilt that the characters Dunstan and Boy feel mainly revolve around the snowball incident with Mrs. Mary Dempster. Everybody had heard about the snowball incident however only Dunstan and Boy knew the truth about who threw the snowball. Although Dunstan was truly not at fault he felt responsible because the snowball was meant for him. His mother then began making him invest time into caring for the Dempster’s and he did it without protest because he felt he need to make the situation right. “We knew your Ma must have sent you. She couldn’t do anything publicly, of course, but she sent you to look after them. Everybody knew an’ honoured her for it.” (p99) The people saw that his mother and his actions were honourable. As Dunstan ages, people’s perception of his dealings with Mary Dempster changes and his link to her makes him seem queer. Eventually even his mother was upset with Dunstan’s obsession with Mrs. Dempster. She was very upset that Dunstan would bring this woman into their home. “What under Heaven had possessed [Dunstan] to turn to that woman, not only to their home but to the very beside of a boy who was dangerously ill?” (p55) Then, Dunstan had “insisted that Willie had indeed died. No pulse; no breathing.” (p.55) He had expressed how he felt about...
Cited: Davies, Robertson. Fifth Business. Toronto: Penguin Group, 2005.
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