Fifth Business Essay

1220 words - 5 pages

Boy Staunton, the antagonist in the novel Fifth Business by Robertson Davies, is a very successful business man. Boy Staunton is motivated by self-distraction in life which he believes will rid himself of remorseful feelings. Although it may appear that he is “living the dream,” the guilt from traumatizing childhood events slowly torture and eventually destroy him. Boy’s decision to commit suicide is greatly influenced by Mary Dempster, Leola Cruikshank and Dunstan Ramsay because they are constant reminders of his mistakes and failures.
At the age of ten, Boy Staunton and his best friend Dunstan Ramsay, began to fight after a day of sledding. Boy accidentally hit a pregnant woman, named ...view middle of the document...

Then maybe something bigger than yourself will come up on your horizon.” Boy replies with, “You're trying to get me. You want to humiliate me in front of this man here.”(Davies, 270) When confronted with his mistakes, it is obvious that Boy tries to blame someone else for what he is feeling inside. Confrontations cause him to have emotional stress which he does not know how to properly handle leading him to taking his own life to get away from it all. Although the tragic incident that caused Mary Dempster to give birth and go crazy did not immediately impact Boy, when he is reminded of it, he now has to deal with the guilty consequence that leads to the ultimate way of avoiding his mistakes; taking his own life.
Even though Dunny and Boy have been friends for many years, they are still in constant competition with each other. When Boy announces his engagement with Leola to Dunny, Boy says, “Well, well, well, the best man has won!” (Davies, 98) Dunny and Boy have been “competing” to win Leola’s love. This quotation stresses that Boy thinks that even love is a competition. Without this rivalry, Boy would not have been as attracted to Leola. Boy goes after what Dunny wants and not his own desires. While it may appear that Boy has reached fulfillment through his success in the sugar-processing industry, he is still not content for he has been chasing after someone else’s dreams his whole life. Boy has the false knowledge that money buys happiness and instead of growing as a person he relies on materialistic items and his trophy wife to make him look good. He is over confident, egocentric, and arrogant. He continuously wants Leola to be someone she is not. Leola tries to conform to his lifestyle but “She had lost heart in the fight to become the sort of sophisticated, cultivated, fashionably alert woman Boy wanted for a wife.” (Davies, 152) and “…could not keep pace with Boy’s social advancement…” (Davies, 151) Boy constantly neglects Leola as they grew older and becomes less attracted to her as time goes on. “Christmas was a dark day at the Stauntons…” (Davies 118) because Boy leaves his wife feeling worthless and unwanted on a day that should be spent with family. He has cheated on her with another woman which led Leola to attempt suicide. Even though her attempted suicide fails in 1936, she dies from pneumonia in 1942. However, Dunny believes that she may have purposely killed herself because she...

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