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A Boy Is A Man In Miniature. This Is An Analysis Of The Novel Fifth Business By Robertson Davies. Specifically About The Concept Of Being Twice Born.

1079 words - 4 pages

"A boy is a man in miniature, although he may sometimes exhibit notable virtue… he is also schemer, self-seeker, traitor, Judas, crook, and villain - in short, a man." (Davies 9). The theme of being twice born is prevalent through the novel Fifth Business and is strongly demonstrated by the characters, Dunny, Percy and Paul. All three change their names, deny their past and become what their parents could never have imagined. Consequently, at the end of the novel, the characters come full circle, revealing the same boyhood traits they portrayed years ago and are 'thrice born'.To begin, Dunstable Ramsay began in Deptford, and as a result of his relationship with his parents, specifically his mother, Dunny needed to reinvent himself. His first step was to remove himself from Deptford and join the army and it was during the war that Dunstable became born again. In the hospital, Diana decided that Dunstable "...sounds like a cart rumbling over cobblestones…" (Davies 85) so she gave him the name Dunstan. During this time, Dunny also discovers that his parents had passed away during the war, but Dunny says, "I felt the loss so little" (Davies 74). As a result, all his strong ties to Deptford had been cut. As Paul says at the end of the novel, "I can't imagine your parents foreseeing that you would become a theorizer of myth and legend… Hard people - especially your mother" (Davies 253) which is true; Mr. and Mrs. Ramsay would never have thought that their son would have become a writer of saints, with a new name, completely different life from his roots in Deptford. Moreover, Liesl says to Dunny, "One always knows the twice born" (Davies 217) and Dunny is clearly in that group.Similarly, consider Percy Boyd Staunton. Percy never liked the small town and a turning point for him is when he is caught "in the act" with Mable Heighington causing his father to decide to send him to an all boys school, removing Percy from Deptford. His father was a local doctor and entrepreneur, but Percy went far beyond him. At Leola and Percy's wedding, for example, Dunny states, "Boy had far surpassed his father in ambition and scope. All he needed was time." (Davies 111). "Boy" was Percy's new name after the war, "because he summed up in himself so much of the glory of youth in the postwar period." (Davies 103). As time passed, Boy became increasingly separated from Deptford. His final ties with his past were severed by the death of his father, as Boy had no reason to look back anymore, only forward, only up. His father would never have imagined what Boy would become, for as Dunny states, "Where his looks and style came from I never knew; certainly not from old Doc Staunton… or from his mother." (Davies 103). Boy changed his religion, much to the distaste of his family, created an empire from sugar and tried his luck in politics. It is through these changes that Boy becomes twice born.The final character is Paul Dempster, who denied his past...

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