Explain Dunny's role as "Fifth Business" throughout the novel. Include any points or evidence that would help make Dunny's role as Fifth Business more apparent.

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ladyvols1 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Dunny's role is the protagonist.  He is the main character.  All of the other characters are in the story just like you would have other characters in your story if you wrote your autobiography. At the end of the book, the protagonist, Dunstable Ramsay, has realized this is his role to play in everyone else's story. He is not even the Hero in his own life. 

"I think you are Fifth Business. You don't know what that is? Well, in opera in a permanent company of the kind we keep up in Europe you must have a prima donna -- always a soprano, always the heroine, often a fool; and a tenor who always plays the lover to her; and then you must have a contralto, who is a rival to the soprano, or a sorceress or something; and a basso, who is the villain or the rival or whatever threatens the tenor.

So far, so good. But you cannot make a plot work without another man, and he is usually a baritone, and he is called in the profession Fifth Business, because he is the odd man out, the person who has no opposite of the other sex. And you must have Fifth Business because he is the one who knows the secret of the hero's birth, or comes to the assistance of the heroine when she thinks all is lost.... I can tell you, and those who play it sometimes have a career that outlasts the golden voices. Are you Fifth Business? You had better find out."


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Fifth Business

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