July 16, 2014
Rebirth and Renaming, Fifth Business
Robertson Davies shows how rebirth is similar to shedding a layer of skin. Like a snake, Dunstan Ramsey, Percy Boyd Staunton and Paul Dempster all shed a layer of their past at some point in Fifth Business. The term rebirth, means to be reborn either mentally or physically.
Dunstan Ramsey shed's a layer of skin every time he is renamed, which occurs four times throughout the entire novel. The first time he is renamed is when he went to war. The other soldiers would call him Deacon because he read the new Testament repeatedly and they all thought he was a religious kind of guy. "My nickname became Deacon, because of my Testament reading." (71). Deacon stuck for a while, "until, in one of the rest camps, word went out that an impromptu show was being organized, [...] I forced myself to do an imitation of Charlie Chaplin, [...] And from that time forth I was called, not 'Deacon', but 'Charlie'." (71-71). The next name he explained was Dunstable. It was his, "...mother's maiden name. Lots of people in Canada get landed with their mother's maiden name as a Christian name." (92). The last name came from Diana. She says, "Let me rename you. [...] You'll never get anywhere in the world named Dumbledum Ramsay. Why don't you change it to Dunstan? St Dunstan was a marvellous person and very much like you..." (93). Dunstan is the name that stuck. Throughout the rest of the novel, Dunstan was his name, although he was sometimes nicknamed Dunny which is just a short form for him actual name.
Percy Boyd Staunton shed's his skin when he renames himself Boy Staunton. Percy was a very disliked character at the start of the novel. On the very first page, Dunstan tells the readers that he and Percy got into a fight, "...because his fine new Christmas sled would not go as fast as my (Dunstans) old one." (9). This causes the readers to come to the conclusion that Percy...
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