What are Dunstan's views on multi-faceted personalities in Fifth Business?

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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It is clear from Dunstan's memoir that he identifies every person performs a number of roles in his or her life that leads to a multifaceted personality. For example, Dunstan himself deliberately plays the role of hero overtly, even though he admits privately that his "heroic" act was anything but, and more a product of blind luck than anything else. Note however what he says about the public roles that people are given when he talks of the public role both he and the King played when he is awarded the Victoria Cross. These roles are:

..unreal yet very necessary; we have obligations above what is merely personal, and to let personal feelings obscure the obligations would be failing in one's duty.

Again, Dunstan, when he returns to Deptford, finds himself performing the public role of feted hero for the benefit of Deptford's citizens, and even chooses to cast himself as "the hero who is tremendous on the field of Mars but slighted in the courts of Venus" as he chooses to embrace Leola in front of Percy. Later on, after he has been headmaster during the war, Boy Staunton reveals how much Dunstan has performed the role of erratic eccentric academic, even going as far as to investigate the contents of his handkerchief as if he were divining the future. Life, according to Dunstan, is made up of many different personalities and roles that people play. By the end of the story, Dunstan, largely thanks to Liesl, determines to play the roles he wishes to play rather than the roles he is given by society.


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