Fifth Business1 Essay

967 words - 4 pages

Fifth Business1

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A railroad line is shown in the background as workers slave away at finishing the Canadian Pacific Rail line, which will run through all of Canada. Finally, the last stake is driven into the rail line thus completing it, rendering it useful for many years to come and effecting the lives of many in the present and future.

The purpose of this essay is to reveal the importance of Canadian history in the novel Fifth Business by Robertson Davies. Fifth Business was written as a reflection of Robertson Davies’s life but also serves as a viewpoint of Canadian life in the early twentieth century. The novel is written accordingly to sequence of events in Canadian history; this allows Davies to shape the plot of the novel around these historical events. Canadian history plays a large role in the first half of the novel, which launches Dunstan Ramsay into a series of trials that develop his character and personality. Such as the Canadian Pacific Railway had united Canada, the same history would link the characters together, develop the characters, and drive the plot of the novel. The two most important historical events within the novel are The Great Depression and World War I.

During The Great Depression, many individuals were had lost their fortunes and property due to the crash in the stock market. Many could not even merely afford to buy anything but necessities such as food. Luckily, Boy Staunton was unaffected by the stock crash since his father was in the sugar business, which was a necessity in the household. Boys’ wealth was built upon his keenness in the stock market before and during the crash. When the stock market crashed, he had been fortunate enough to survive through the depression. Even though times were hard Boy had found ways of making money through solaces (p.149) and his sugar factory. Boy had always felt responsible for Dunny because of the snowball incident and had helped Dunny manage his money to make a fair amount of income. Having Boy handling his income, Dunny would also be able to survive in the course of the depression. The depression was a point in the novel where Boy had been at one of his low points. Boys’ relationship with Leola was already having problems two years before the stock market crash, but as the depression arrived, Boy spent more time making money than investing his time in something more valuable, Leola. If the stock market crash were to never occur then Boy would not have been able to make a considerable amount of money, which in turn, would not allow Dunny to travel through Europe in search of...

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