Fifth Business Dunstan


Lots of people in our society can be dubbed as ^neutral^ in their
behavior. They dont take part in the events occurring around them but
rather just observe them. This characteristic can be called a
beneficial characteristic as it may keep them out of disagreements. In
the book Fifth Business written by Robertson Davies, Dunny can be
called a neutral person. He tells us about his life story and through
various incidents, it is clearly evident that he is indeed a neutral
person. For instance, the snowball incident and Dunny^s relationship
with Diana show the reader that he is indeed a neutral person who
doesn^t want to get involved deeply in anything at all. Dunny starts
his story from his childhood. He tells us that when he was ten, he had
a fight with Percy Boyd Staunton and during this fight, Percy threw a
snowball at him. He dodged the snowball and it struck the pregnant Mary
Dempster, who was the wife of Reverend Amasa Dempster, on her head.
This led to the premature birth of the baby. Dunny felt responsible for
that incident and spent many sleepless nights but he didn^t tell Mary
what had happened or who threw the snowball. He remained neutral in the
situation despite the fact that he felt guilty and responsible for
Mary^s loss of senility and the premature birth of the baby. These
strong emotions led him to help Mary in every way possible. Although he
knew that he had not thrown the snowball, he imagined that since it was
meant for him, he shouldn^t have dodged it. Also Paul had told Dunny
that he wasn^t responsible for the snowball because it was Dunny^s
dodging it which led to Mary Dempster labor. So Dunny was sure that!
he was to blame but still he didn^t confess it to anyone, neither did
he ever talk to anyone about it. Being neutral he just withdrew and did
not take a stand in the situation. He took care of Paul when he (Paul)
was quite young and also was protective of Mary which further served to
isolate him from the rest of the society who thought of Mary as a bad
influence. Though this incident occurred in an early stage of Dunny^s
life, it still shows his neutrality which remained a part of him until
his death. Dunny^s relationship with Diana is another example which
shows his neutrality. When Dunny was wounded in the war, he was put
under Diana^s care until he got back on his feet. During this time, he
developed a liking for Diana. In fact, the feeling was mutual. They
became very close and a relationship formed between them. This
relationship progressed to a point where Diana wanted to marry Dunny.
This was not what Dunny had in mind. He didn^t want to get trapped by
marrying Diana. His opinion was that she was too much caring and would
treat him the way his mother did when he was young. Through Diana,
Dunny learned what physical love meant but when the question of
marriage emerged, he stepped back and took a back seat. Despite Diana^s
tremendous love and care for Dunny, he dismissed the suggestion of
marriage because of his neutral qualities. He can be Diana^s lover but
he cant be directly involved and thus be Diana^s husband. His neutral
character forbade that from happening. Th! is relationship clearly
shows the reader that Dunny is in fact a neutral person. As the story
progresses, it becomes quite evident that Dunstan Ramsey is a neutral
person. The way Dunny is emerging into a neutral character is clearly
shown by the two examples given in this essay. There are, however, lots
of other examples in the novel showing us this same characteristic. The
interesting thing is that Dunny thinks that he is very much involved in
whatever is going on around him. he thinks that he is playing a major
part in all of his friends life. This makes the novel all the more
enjoyable to read.


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