Davis’ “Fifth Business”: Death of Boy Staunton
Submitted by: Johnny Jimenez
Guilt can only be suppressed for a limited time before it comes out in
ultimate plunge into his death. His decision was not merely his own, but was
who was his first love and his wife. Then Mary Dempster, a neighbor from his old
town Deptford, whom he mistakenly made into a ?simple? woman. Next his life
long-friend and enemy, Dunstan Ramsey, who was a constant reminder of the
killed Boy Staunton (as stated) were: Mary- ?the woman he did not know?, Leola- ?
whom granted his inner most wish, and lastly, Boy Staunton himself.
It can be observed that childhood experiences play a very important role
in the stableness of ones soul. One mishap in childhood can create a devastating
The last snowball concealed a rock, and hit Dunny’s neighbor Mary Dempster in
the head. As a result, she gave birth prematurely (to Paul Dempster), and then
afterwards became ?simple minded?. This particular incident acted as a
foundation for Boy’s growing shadow, and contributed to the demise of his soul.
Staunton’s shadow, was a woman he did not know. When Boy was asked if he had any
recognition of Mrs. Dempster, he replied: ? None at all. Why Should I??(page
for the rest of his life.
Boy’s guilt grew as the years went by, fed by incidents that occurred
from different people. Leola, Boy’s first wife was one of these people. Leola
and fancied each other throughout the years. When Boy came back from the war,
they fell in love, got married and remained that way until the day Leola
Boy wanted Leola to be something she could not. Leola tried hard to suit his
lifestyle but eventually Boy realized that she was not what he wanted; ?She was
trying hard, but she could not keep pace with Boy’s social advancement?(page
and eventually Boy cheated on her. As the neglect grew, so did his guilt. When
Leola eventually killed herself (due to Boy’s neglect), his guilt grew so big he
could not face it. This could be seen when Boy did not even attend her funeral.
Dunstan Ramsey was Paul’s life-long friend and enemy. Boy and Dunny ran
somewhat of a parallel life. They both grew up feeling guilt for Mrs. Dempster.
Dunny realized that to live a complete life, one must rid one’s self of the
guilt. Dunny dealt with his guilt by supporting Mrs. Dempster in her later years.
Boy on the other hand ignored the guilt he felt for Mrs. Dempster and Leola. Boy
did not know, but his conscience was so big that he would soon have to somehow
open it up and face it. Dunny’s paperweight was the key. His paperweight was the
stone that was hidden in the snowball that hit Mrs. Dempster in the head when
they were children. When Dunny told Boy and Paul about the snowball incident,
Boy realizes what he is guilty of and what he repressed for so many years. Boy
recover something of the totality of your life. . . . . It’s time you tried to
be a human being. ? (page 264) At that point, Boy knew he had to deal with the
shadow he was hiding from himself his whole life. Boy didn’t know how to rid
himself of the guilt, and turned to Paul Dempster for the answer.
In addition to Boy’s guilt, Paul told him that he was responsible Paul’s
premature birth. He also told him that he was also responsible for the ridicule
other words, Boy was responsible for Paul’s whole life. Boy could not handle
this and needed to get rid of his guilt fast and he needed Paul to help him.
Paul’s part in Boy’s charade was simple. Boy wanted to escape his shadow, and
Paul could provide the means to do so. When Boy asked Paul if he needed a lift
(on page 265), his intentions were completely different from what Dunny thought
them to be. Dunny thought that Boy ?wanted to blackguard himself to Eisengrim in
the car? (page 265). Boy actually wanted Paul to help him to run away from his
conscience. Paul knew what was going to happen to Boy when he said: ?. . . -for
you will drive me to my hotel.?. On the drive home, Paul played his part by
hypnotizing Boy. This helped Boy escape his inner shadow by the only way he
could, by taking his own life.
When Boy was found the morning after, a strange stone was found in his
mouth. That stone was the same stone which hit Mary Dempster in the head so many
years before. Boy considered the stone to represent his guilt and in the end
tried to swallow the stone (he tried to swallow his guilty conscience). Suicide
was the only way out for Boy, because his shadow was much to big to confront.
Boy’s biggest mistake in his life, was that he did not face his conscience when
it was small. Instead he let it grow inside him, a mistake which ultimately led
to his death.
Indeed Boy’s death was influenced by different people throughout his
life. Leola who was the woman he knew. Mary – the woman he did not know. Paul -
who granted his inmost wish. And of course Dunny -the inevitable fifth. But Boy
Staunton was the only one who could be accountable for his guilt. For he, and he
alone, ignored his shadow and left it to grow. In the end his shadow was to big
to defeat, and so, pushed by the darkness within him, Boy entered finally into
the shadow of death.