Commentary On Fifth Business Passage (Page 74-75)

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This prose extract is a first-person retrospective narrative from Robertson Davies’, Fifth Business, in which the narrator, Dunstan Ramsay, has just received the news that his parents have died. The narrator illustrates his relationship with his late parents, his existing romantic relationship with the nurse that nurtured him back to better health, Diana, and his satisfaction with living. This extract explores the contrast between familial love and loss, the narrator’s affection and relationship with Diana, her reoccurring stress on religious significance, and that narrator’s analysis of the role of women. The narrator does not dwell on the pain of losing both his parents, but does not realize until he reaches “his thirties” that he could see them “as real people, who had done the best they could in the lives fate had given them.” He determines a lot of life is prearranged, and relies on fate for many answer. At the time, “as [he] lay in the hospital”, he felt a sense of relief that they had died. “[He] was ashamed because [he] felt the loss so little.” The narrator emphasizes how distant he was from his parents and a sense of isolation is noticeable. The typical mind-set of an individual that is informed of the passing of any being usually results in a feeling of loss and a state of sorrow. The reaction of the narrator results in uneasiness for the reader and questions why the narrator’s relationship with his parents was so unpleasant. Much is learned about the character’s relationship with his parents, mainly his mother, primarily through examples. The narrator emphasizes his mother’s nagging personality and how “she had eaten [his] father”, and he was relieved that he no longer had to “keep her from eating” him. He has witnessed his mother’s consumption of his father, and feels relieved because with her death, the role of women in his own life has
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