Fifth Business - Guilt Essay

1605 Words Jul 20th, 2010 7 Pages
Fifth Business: The consequences of guilt
All actions have consequences. Sometimes one does not have to participate in the action, but only be related, and the crime committed can have serious consequences for everyone. The consequence, or lack of consequence, is determined by one’s upbringing. This is clearly the case present in Robertston Davies’ Fifth Business. Although Boy committed the crime, Dunstan feels a profound sense of guilt about the snowball incident. On the other hand, Boy obliterates his guilt. Guilt and lack of guilt can clearly be seen through character’s lives, relationships and philosophies.
The guilt felt by Dunstan altered the way he lives through his complete devotion for Mary Dempster. Dunstan’s guilt is the
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After all, who else remembered her?” (Davies 251). Dunstan’s lifelong commitment to Mary Dempster shows the consummation of the guilt that Dunstan feels even during his old age. Liesl reveals to Dunstan that by living a life of guilt, he is missing out on a part of his life, “But you – there is a whole great piece of your life that is unlived, denied, set aside,” (Davies 229). From this point on Dunstan understands that he has to live for himself, instead of living for others. When he meets Liesl, Dunstan is able to live a full life; understanding the purpose of his life and fulfilling it. Dunstan’s guilt makes him live in devotion to Mary Dempster, and he later learns that he has to live a life for himself.
On the contrary, Boy’s guilt cannot be seen and Boy shows no remorse for his actions. Unlike Dunstan, Boy does not have any religious upbringing and certainly has a very low moral integrity. This is shown by Dunstan’s confrontation about the snowball incident where Boy denies his faults. After Dunny confronts him, he says, “You bet it’s what I think…And it’s what you’d better think too, if you know what’s good for you” (Davies 16). Boy’s immature behaviour to not take responsibility for his actions leads to a path where he is successful, but feels unfulfilled inside. Similar to Dunstan’s commitment to caring for Mrs Dempster, Boy also commits his life to external greatness. He becomes something that he is not, but something that others

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