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Shadows in Fifth Business
Incidences that occur in one's childhood tend to affect them possibly for the rest of the rest of their life. This applies to the novel Fifth Business and the characters Dunstan Ramsey and Boy Staunton. Throughout the lives of these characters Dunstan lives in the shadow of Boy due to feelings of guilt and responsibility as a result of one winter evening in the town of Deptford.
As Boy and Dunny grew up together they were each others best friends and also worst enemies, but they were on basically equal terms in their childish trials of life. This remained to be true until that winter day in Deptford when Mrs. Dempster was struck with a snowball that was meant for Dunny. Since that point in time Dunny, being the more caring and excepting of responsibility for other peoples problems, of the two, has not lived up to par with the life of Boy Staunton.
Ever since the snowball accident Dunny has been preoccupied by worrying over Mary Dempster, and now her son Paul. At the age of sixteen the small town of Deptford becomes too much for Dunny to handle so he decides to drop out of secondary school and join the Army. Dunny needed a change in his life, something to get his mind off Mrs. Dempster and the guilt he felt for her. Leading up to his departure to the War he never really saw much of Mary, mainly because Mr. Dempster told him to stay away, but also because every time him saw her he couldn't hold back feelings of guilt and remorse. This troubled Dunny, much more then he would ever let on. On the other hand, Boy was doing as well as ever, possibly due to the fact that he knew that much of the responsibility of Mary and Paul was securely on the shoulders of Dunny. Dunny knew this as well but it was too late to do much about it except leave.
While Dunny was away at war, Boy was still finishing school and in the process of stealing Dunny's girl while he was away. Boy and Dunstan had been competing for Leola all their life up until when Dunny left. This loss for Dunstan could have been avoided if in fact he had not accepted responsibility for the snowball incident he wouldn't have had to leave and therefore could have kept Leola.
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After Boy finished High school he then went on to serve in the Army as well but naturally in a higher position then Dunstan. Boy was an Officer and brimming with self confidence while Dunny rather focused his life around what has gone wrong with it up until this point.
After they both served their time in the war it was off to University. Percy was doing excellent in school and every other facet of his life and after University he goes on to be a very successful business man and Dunny becomes a Head Master at a boys private school in Toronto. Boy ends up being much more successful and wealthy them Dunny could ever imagine. It all began with Boy getting a better start in life and avoiding problems in his childhood which Dunny had to live through.