Why do characters in Robertson Davies' Fifth Business get their name changed? 

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

There are three significant character name changes in Davies' Fifth Business. The first is in the case of the main character, Dunstable Ramsay. To young Ramsay, Mrs. Dempster (his neighbor) becomes a saint after a dramatic change in her behavior following an unfortunate encounter with a snowball. While Ramsay is away fighting, he is very badly hurt in the war and is convinced that his saintly neighbor appears to him and saves him from death. During his recovery, a nurse speaks to him about St. Dunstan, who once had a run-in with the Devil. This influences Ramsay to change his name to Dunstan.

Percy Boyd Staunton, who was responsible for throwing the snowball, is the second character to have his name changed. He renames himself Boy Staunton after renewing his acquaintance with Ramsay many years later. A saintly, religious influence is evident in their name changes, as both men thus consider themselves "twice born."

Paul Dempster, the son of Mary Dempster, leaves home and eventually becomes...

(The entire section contains 3 answers and 565 words.)

Unlock This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Start your 48-Hour Free Trial
Approved by eNotes Editorial Team