Identity In Robert Davidson's Fifth Business

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The novel Fifth Business, by Robert Davidson features the fictional memoir of Dunstable as he shares his experiences with people in his life, including characters Percy, and Paul. Robert Davidson shows the lives of Percy, Paul and Dunstable to show how individuals grow from their experiences to form their identity. Each character forms their sense of self in different ways, including Percy, who becomes superficial. First, Percy changes his name to Boy to express his youth as a means to surpass his father. While his father is a wealthy man with a successful business, Boy strives to use his charm and fresh ideas to become greater. When he does, according to Dunstable, he shows off his success by flaunting his expensive “toys…right under [his father’s] nose, without explaining anything” (105), revealing his sense of superiority. Later in his life, he expects his wife to change herself to become more ideal, and treats…show more content…
When watching one of Paul’s shows, Dunstable notes that while his tricks are “all classics from the past”, the way he executes them is unique. (193). Last, Dunstable detaches himself from his biological parents and instead clings to Paul’s mother, Mary. Initially, it is mostly his guilt that leads him to care for Mary, as he felt responsible for her condition. Eventually, his attachment starts to stem from his need for a parental figure because of his negative feelings towards his parents. For instance, upon hearing the news of his parents’ death, Dunstable is relived and “mean-spiritedly pleased” over the loss, showing that, similar to Paul, he has no affection towards his parents (74). However, Dunstable does not only feel detachment towards his parents, but towards his life. Likewise, aside from his obsession with Mary, Dunstable is indifferent towards his life and the people around
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