Padre Blazon, a character in the novel Fifth Business, said: “If you think her a saint, she is a saint to you. ” (Davis 165). This quote implies that what a person may believe as true in their mind will only remain true in their mind. This quote reveals the theme of illusions verses realities in the novel Fifth Business written by Robertson Davis. The conflict between illusions and realities is the most established theme in the novel. It prevails through aspects of faith verses reality, psychological truth verses reality, and myth verses reality.
A psychological truth Dunstan Ramsay posses in the novel is the belief that Mary Dempster is a saint. Even at a young age, Dunstan believed that “She lived by a light that arose from within. ” (46). As a result of this belief Dunstan had, he then got interested in saints and continued to study it until he became an expert in hagiology. But his efforts are futile, because later on he learns that Mary Dempster is merely a fool-saint. A fool-saint is someone who seems to have all the qualities of a saint, except for Prudence. But Dunstan chooses to ignore this fact and continued on with believing that she is a saint.
He disregarded the reality and believed in his own psychological truth. Dunstan’s life long friend and enemy, Boy Staunton is also someone who believed in his own psychological truth. It was Boy, called Percy during childhood, who threw the snowball that contained a stone at Mary Dempster. The responsibility for this incident is equal on Boy and Dunstan. Dunstan chooses to confront it and accept the responsibility. But when Dunstan confronts Boy about this incident, Boy changed the story to “I threw a snowball at you, and I guess it gave you a good smack. ” (17). He denied the occurrence of this incident from the beginning.
When Dunstan brings up the subject many years later, Boy has even forgotten about this incident. Though, because Dunstan has reminded him about this incident, all the guilt that he should have experienced throughout the years have all came out at once. In the end, this could be said to be an attributing factor to Boy’s death. The psychological truth Boy held in his mind were opposite of the reality, and when reality confronts him, he died as a result. Myths also clash with realities in the novel. At the beginning of the novel, Mrs. Dempster was perceived to be different by everyone in Deptford.
Then after she got hit in the head by the snowball, people began to think that she was simple. Even though in reality, as Dunstan’s mother said: “Mrs. Dempster was really no different from what she had been before, except that she was more so. ”(19). this myth about her simplicity escalated later in the novel, and it became apparent that she had a mental disability. The myth about Mary Dempster became a reality. A myth about Boy Staunton also became a reality. Near the end of the novel, Boy Staunton said: “But sometimes I wish I could get into a car and drive away from the whole damned thing. ” (232).
He proclaims that he wants to run away from everything that is going around him. Dunstan then tells Boy that it is “A truly mythological wish. ” (232). Then later implies because Boy have been so obsessed with the materialistic world he have failed to find out what is the meaning of life. Instead of being his own god, Boy should find a God. This myth of Boy running away from everything in a car becomes a reality later on in the book. It became a reality because that is how Boy died. It is made evident to the reader that the death of Boy is caused partially by the fact that he was his own God. In order to believe in God, it requires faith.
Faith collides with reality a number of times in the novel. Both Mr. and Mrs. Dempster are people who whole heartedly believed in God. When Mary Dempster was gave birth to the pre-mature Paul, both of their lives were endangered. Amasa Dempster could only pray. Amasa Dempster had faith in God and prayed “…if He must take the soul of Mary Dempster to him, to do so with little gentleness and mercy. ”(15. ) In the end, Mary Dempster and Paul pulled through and lived. While Amasa Dempster prayed for his loved ones to go peacefully, when Dunstan asked Mary Dempster to help Willie when Willie was dying, Mary prayed for Willie to live.
This incident was perceived by Dunstan to be a miracle, because Willie lived when Dunstan held the belief that he was dead. Faith in God verses reality is evident in these two incidents. You can also have faith in things other than God. Boy Staunton chose to put his faith in materialistic things rather than God. So it can be said that Boy believed in the realities instead of the faithful. On the other hand, Dunstan held his faith in God. Boy tells Dunstan in the novel, “Watch that you don’t get queer, Dunny. ” And “Arthur Woodiwiss Throughout the novel, realities and illusions of different kinds collide with each other.
It is the most established themes in the novel. It is established through truths in a person’s mind verses reality, faith verses reality, and mythological beliefs verses reality. Having the theme of illusions verses reality established is very important, because when readers read this novel and examines these factors later on, they may also examine their own life and get a new window of understanding as a result. The novel, Fifth Business by Robertson Davis has masterfully presented the idea of illusions verses realities to the readers.