Who Is Paul Dempster's Guilt In Fifth Business

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In Robertson Davies’ novel Fifth Business, the author utilizes the characters to illustrate that a person’s guilt may become a deadly venom to their conscience if it is carried as a burden throughout their life. This only leads to the deterioration of the characters, themselves. Paul Dempster’s guilt begins as a child when his father, Amasa Dempster, starts to blame him for his mother’s simple behaviour. Being a gullible child, Paul’s father is able to strictly reform how Paul thinks of himself. The words of Amasa’s verbal abuse continue to form Paul’s life as he immerses himself with guilt over what his mother has become. As an adult Paul still believes “it was [his] birth that made her like that” (Davies 266). His father who was the man responsible…show more content…
Boy manifests his guilt through a change in identity which he believes serves as a mask to the wrongful acts he commits during his lifetime. At one point in his army experience, Percy Staunton becomes Boy Staunton and “it suited him admirably” (Davies 109). His new name truly defines him “because he summed up in himself so much of the glory of youth in the post war period. He gleamed, he glowed; [Boy’s] hair was glossier, his teeth whiter than those of common young men” (Davies, 109). Boy creates a new identity to abandon the mistakes he made in his past without confronting his guilt. Having a new name is Boy’s way of dealing with his all-consuming guilt, as in his mind a new identity means a new beginning with no ties to his previous faults. The snowball that Boy threw as a child led him to completely ignore the guilt to the point where he had no recollection of the event. Boy’s suppressed guilt that is eventually forgotten in his new identity ends up leading him to his demise later in his life. Ultimately, guilt has the power to overwhelm and conquer if it is not resolved before critically damaging one’s
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