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Guilty Conscience

  • Date Submitted: 12/04/2014 06:30 PM
  • Flesch-Kincaid Score: 61.1 
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Guilty conscience
In psychology, we learn that there are a few stages in childhood that help us develop unique personalities, fears and preferences. Parents play the role model and mark the child’s education and values taught in life. In Robertson Davies’s Fifth Business, the author tries to show that moral values taught in childhood will greatly impact how a person will deal with guilt in the future. The author shows different approach towards guilt with Boy’s guiltless way of living, Dunny’s guilt–driven life and Paul’s total indifference towards guilt.

First of all, Robertson Davies describes Boy as a typical rich boy who isn’t taught proper morals by his busy parents and doesn’t take any responsibility for his actions, leading him to deny any accusations in his own conscience. In the beginning of the story, there’s a perfect example of his guiltless response towards his own wrongdoing. After Boy throws a life-changing snowball at Mrs. Dempster, he feels no culpability for it: ‘‘‘I threw a snowball at you’’’ he replied to Dunny, ‘‘‘and I guess it gave you a good smack’’’ (17).   By these words, we can see that Boy’s instinctive response when faced with guilt is to blame his faults on others. In the same manner, Leola was also victim of Boy’s bad conscience over responsibility. As his wife, Leola had to become the perfect wife and Dunny says that: ‘‘‘She had toiled at the lessons in bridge, mah-jongg, golf, and tennis… but…a sense of failure had begun to possess her’’’ (144).   Later in the book, Leola is sick from pneumonia and is tired of trying to perfect herself for boy. Dunny finds it suspicious that she opened her window, took a chill and died a week later (184).   Ironically, with all the effort Leola put on to please Boy, he, on the other hand shows no grief when she dies. In fact: ‘‘‘ Boy was in England, arranging something…connected with his Ministry. He asked me, ’’’ referring to Dunny. ‘‘‘by cable, to do what had to be one’’’(184). From these lines,...


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