The main character, and narrator, of this tale is Dunstan Ramsay, a man who seems to have been destined to exist on the periphery of the life he is now looking back on. Boy is everything Ramsay is not: Aside from their origins in a small Ontario town as part of the same generation, the two boys share something else, a link to the tragedy that occurred in the life of Mrs. Dempster becomes the victim of a snowball hurled by Boy and meant for Ramsay which had a stone at its heart.
Part 1 The novel takes the form of a letter written by Dunstan Ramsay to the Headmaster of Colborne College, where Dunstan is a teacher. A recent article in the school newspaper has portrayed Dunstan as dull and boring, and he wishes to correct this perception by telling his strange, marvelous, and complicated life story to the headmaster.
He begins with the night in the small town of Deptford Ontario that Percy Boyd Staunton threw a snowball at him, but instead Fifth business the head of Mary Dempster, who is pregnant.
Mary then prematurely gives birth to her son Paul as a result of the accident. Dunstan also takes care of Mary and looks after Paul after school. He comes to love Mrs. Dempster, partially because he feels responsible for her misfortune. Dunstan works in the library as a child, and develops a love of learning, fantastical stories, mythology, and magic.
Fifth business night Mary Dempster goes missing, and Dunstan is part of the search party. He discovers her having sex with a tramp, and when questioned, she serenely confirms the sex was consensual.
Amasa takes her home, resigns from the church, and moves her to a small cottage where he keeps her tied up. Dunstan goes anyway, and the closer he grows to Mrs.
Dempster the more he believes there is something saint-like and holy about her. He has no heartbeat, and Dunstan believes he is dead. He gets Mary Dempster, and she touches Willie and calls his name, and Willie wakes up. His mother is especially furious, and demands that Dunstan choose between her and Mrs.
He chooses to enlist in the army.
Leola still loves Percy, but says she loves Dunstan, too. Dunstan fares well in the war, remaining uninjured until one day he suffers a blow to his leg after taking out three German machine gun operators.
As he lies on the battlefield, sure he will die, he sees a statue of the Madonna, but her face is the face of Mary Dempster. Dunstan wakes up six months later from a coma, and finds he has lost his leg but has been awarded the Victorian Cross the highest military honor awarded in Canada and that both his parents have died in the influenza epidemic of He has a romantic relationship with his nurse, Diana Marfleet, but realizes she is too much like his mother and ends it on good terms.
Meanwhile, Dunstan becomes interested in renaissance art and sainthood and travels around Europe seeking out new knowledge, leaning new languages, and writing books.
He comes across a traveling circus and meets Paul Dempster, who has no interest in forming a relationship with his mother, who has gone insane since he left and Amasa died from the flu, and who is living with her Aunt Bertha. Thus Dunstan comes to believe that Mary has performed three miracles: He has to put Mary up in a public hospital, and feels horrible about it, but continues to travel.
During this time, Leola finds out Boy has been cheating on her, and she attempts suicide. She withers away for years until, during World War II, she dies of pneumonia.
Dunstan continues to travel and have success, earning the respect and friendship of the Bollandists, a group of Jesuits who study Saints. Dunstan takes a six-month leave to go to Mexico, where he meets Paul again, who is now a successful and famous magician.
During this time Dunstan has a sexual encounter with a hideous, devilish woman named Liesl, who tells him he is not living life and has yet to accept himself as a human being.
This encounter is later remember by Dunstan as his encounter with the Devil, and he believes it was a crucial and formative event in his life—Padre Blazon will tell him that a friendship with the Devil is indeed a good thing. Dunstan finishes the book about Eisengrim after this encounter, and it is a huge success.
Dunstan borrows money from Paul to move Mary to a private hospital. He stupidly tells her that her son is still alive, and this drives her mad. She thinks Dunstan is keeping Paul away from her, and Dunstan can no longer see her without upsetting her.
When Mary dies, Dunstan feels it is his fault and weeps for the first time since childhood.The Fifth Business @fifthbusiness Engaging people. The Fifth Business is an internal communications and change agency with offices around the world. The Fifth Business is an integrated change management, communications, learning and design agency - providing staff engagement, e-learning, inspiring design, productivity coaching and change management execution.
We want to become your trusted partner by understanding your business challenges. Fifth business may be an invention, but business as a theatrical term is not. The OED says “Action on stage (as distinguished from dialogue), especially that intended to forward the progress of the plot, pass time, or aid characterization.”.
About Fifth Business. Ramsay is a man twice born, a man who has returned from the hell of the battle-grave at Passchendaele in World War I decorated with the Victoria Cross and destined to be caught in a no man’s land where memory, history, and myth collide.
The Fifth Business is an integrated change management, communications, learning and design agency - providing staff engagement, e-learning, inspiring design, productivity coaching and change management execution.
We want to become your trusted partner by understanding your business challenges. stars Robertson Davies is one of my literary heroes. At a time in my youth when I had been engulfed with ‘Canadian Literature’ that was, in my humble opinion at the time at least, depressing, uninteresting, and decidedly parochial, here was a man who wrote stories 4/5.