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What is the summary of chapter one of Fifth Business by Robertson Davies?

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k10willa | eNotes Newbie

Posted December 4, 2007 at 5:44 AM via web

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What is the summary of chapter one of Fifth Business by Robertson Davies?

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malibrarian | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator

Posted December 24, 2007 at 2:37 AM (Answer #1)

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I'm assuming you mean a summary of the first chapter contained within the section called "Mrs. Dempster."  In this first chapter we learn a number of things.  We're given the initial time period of the book (December 1908) and the age of the narrator, Dunstan Ramsay, at the time of this momentous occurrence in his life.

Having been sledding with his friend Percy, during which Percy was beaten by Dunstan's old sled, the two got into a snowball fight.  Percy threw a snowball, but Dunstan ducked, and the snowball hit Mrs. Dempster instead - a young, pregnant lady walking down the street with her husband.  This led to her giving birth prematurely to Paul Dempster, and to a lifelong feeling of guilt and obligation on the part of Dunstan Ramsay.  It also leads to Ramsay's life being connected to Mrs. Dempster regardless of the directions in which their lives move.

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floydd | Student, Undergraduate | (Level 1) Salutatorian

Posted April 9, 2010 at 8:34 AM (Answer #2)

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1.1

· Dunstan’s involvement with Mrs. Dempster began on December 27, 1908

· He was 10 years 7 months

· Percy comes from a rich family; father is a doctor

· Percy jealous because Dunstan’s sled was faster

· Made fun of Dunstan, said that his father was better than his

· He threw many snowballs at Dunstan, and hit Mrs. Dempster at the back of the head

· She fell to the ground and burst into tears

· Dunstan arrives home late and tells his story

· Description of Dunstan’s mother ß Pg6

· Birth of Paul Dempster; Morning of December 28, 1908 ßPg6

 

1.2

· In the present day talks about Packer and his article (titled “farewell to the cork”)

· Dunstan is a History professor

1.3

· Description of the village (Deptford) with population, religions, one lawyer, one backer, two doctors, dentist, veterinarian, canning factory, few shops, one only three story house

· Dunstan’s father is the owner of the Deptford Banner

· Description of Dunstan’s father and mother’s history

· Description of house and cleanliness ß Pg 12

1.4

· Paul’s birth description

· Description of Dunstan’s mother, miserable time for Dunstan

· Mrs. Dempster’s tragedy, Description of Paul ß Pg14

· Amasa baptizes Paul, theatre theme

· Prays to God to take away Mrs. Dempster’s soul

· Paul becomes healthy

· Dunstan is guilty so he goes and talks about the birth of Paul with Percy

· Mention of Dante inferno, Dunstan is 11

· Dunstan believes he is responsible for the birth of Paul

· Talk about who threw the snowball and if Dunstan knows who threw it

 

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floydd | Student, Undergraduate | (Level 1) Salutatorian

Posted April 9, 2010 at 8:35 AM (Answer #3)

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1.1

· Dunstan’s involvement with Mrs. Dempster began on December 27, 1908

· He was 10 years 7 months

· Percy comes from a rich family; father is a doctor

· Percy jealous because Dunstan’s sled was faster

· Made fun of Dunstan, said that his father was better than his

· He threw many snowballs at Dunstan, and hit Mrs. Dempster at the back of the head

· She fell to the ground and burst into tears

· Dunstan arrives home late and tells his story

· Description of Dunstan’s mother ß Pg6

· Birth of Paul Dempster; Morning of December 28, 1908 ßPg6

 

1.2

· In the present day talks about Packer and his article (titled “farewell to the cork”)

· Dunstan is a History professor

1.3

· Description of the village (Deptford) with population, religions, one lawyer, one backer, two doctors, dentist, veterinarian, canning factory, few shops, one only three story house

· Dunstan’s father is the owner of the Deptford Banner

· Description of Dunstan’s father and mother’s history

· Description of house and cleanliness ß Pg 12

1.4

· Paul’s birth description

· Description of Dunstan’s mother, miserable time for Dunstan

· Mrs. Dempster’s tragedy, Description of Paul ß Pg14

· Amasa baptizes Paul, theatre theme

· Prays to God to take away Mrs. Dempster’s soul

· Paul becomes healthy

· Dunstan is guilty so he goes and talks about the birth of Paul with Percy

· Mention of Dante inferno, Dunstan is 11

· Dunstan believes he is responsible for the birth of Paul

· Talk about who threw the snowball and if Dunstan knows who threw it

1.5

· Description of Mrs. Dempster, Description of Amasa Dempster

· Although Mrs. Dempster is healthy, she is sloppy and treats Paul like a doll ßPg21

· She is found many times naked at home, considered simple

· Paul is a healthy, Christian looking boy

· Dunstan has to do the chores at the Dempster's and watch over Paul

· Mrs. Dempster gives everything away (story about the vase)

· Description of Willie Ramsay

1.6

· Description of Percy ( nicknamed Pidgy boy-boy by his mother)

· Description of Dunstan

· Dunstan nicknamed Nursie

· Dunstan loves Leola Cruikshank and Mrs. Dempster ß Pg24

· Dunstan stick up for Mrs Dempster

· Description of Milo Papple and his father

1.7

· Dunstan is 13 years old

· Dunstan’s sloppiness in the Printing business

· Dunstan is a Librarian

· He reads Magic books, he wants to become a Magician (conjurer)

· Practices with an egg from his mother’s kitchen

· Lies to his mother and gets beatings ß Pg 24

1.8

· Started learning card tricks

· Showed Paul his tricks and taught Paul a lot

· Reads to Paul “ A child’s book of Saints”

· Started with coin tricks ßPg32

· Paul does the card tricks perfectly

· Description of Paul

1.9

· Description of Amasa Dempster, he loves Mrs. Dempster on principle

· Demspter shouts at Dunstan for teaching his son magic tricks and telling Paul about Saints

· Dunstan is Fifteen

· Dunstan ill wishes Dempster ßPg37

· Description of Mrs. Dempster and Mrs. Ramsay

1.10

· Description of Willie

· Mrs Dempster ( Mary Dempster) disappears

· Found in the gravel pit copulating with a tramp

 

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