Fifth Business Study Guide

Part 1 Summary Cont.

Mrs. Dempster is starting to recover. She is still considered to be too warm, placid, and happy to be considered as a “proper” woman, let alone as a preacher’s wife. Her husband, Amasa, is praised by the people because of the concern that he has on his wife, even if it’s no longer doting or romantic. It has started to become a form of penance. After giving birth to Paul, Mrs. Dempster is caught breastfeeding in public. This caused a minor scandal in their town and she is considered to be “simple” in the head.

Mrs. Ramsay thinks that Mr. Dempster is too incompetent to properly look after his wife and enlists her son Dunstant to look after Mrs. Dempster so as to avoid her from doing anything to the baby. Dunstan immediately becomes Mrs. Dempster’s “nursemaid.” Percy takes amusement in mocking Dunstan for this but Dunstan is clever enough to be able to defend himself verbally. Dunny likes collecting people’s secrets so that he can use it against them in the future, just like with what he did to Percy. He knows about Mrs. Staunton’s nickname for Percy, Pidy Boy-Boy and attacks Percy with it whenever the need arises. Dunny becomes more isolated from his friends and grows more attached to Mrs. Dempster. He thinks Mrs. Dempster’s logic is simple and sincere and doesn’t adhere to what society is telling people to be.


He keeps all secrets that he knows to himself, which is one o the main themes of the book. Paul Dempster grows up to be lonely and Dunstan spends time with him. He teaches Paul some magic tricks that he learned from a book. When Dunstan steals an egg for a trick that he wants to teach Paul, his mother finds out and engages in a physical battle with him, something that he remembers into his adulthood. Mr. Dempster is not happy with what happened as well and accused Dunstan of teaching Paul “black arts” and about the Roman Catholic Saints.

One evening, men from the Deptford community paid a visit to the Ramsay household. Mrs. Dempster has gone missing. Dunstant knows how grave it is for a woman to go out of the dark unescorted, especially someone like Mrs. Dempster. Duncan, who is a teenager at this point, and his father were both asked to accompany the group to search for the poor woman. They find her engaged in a carnal activity at a dark gravel pit with a hobo. Mrs. Dempster’s response to what she did was that the man seemed to “want it so much.” After this, she becomes isolated. She became a constant subject of scorn and ridicule in their town. Mr. Dempster didn’t press any charges for what happened, as his wife was a “willing” accomplice. He resigns from the church and gets a job as a bookkeeper. No longer having any trust for his wife, he resorts to tying her up inside their household.

Despite being banned by his mother from seeing Mrs. Dempster, Dunstan continues to visit her in secret. Even if she is disheveled and lonely, she still has an air of calmness around her. She doesn’t feel any resentment or judgment about her situation. Dunstan finds her attitude about it saint-like.

Dunstan drowns himself in reading to keep his mind away from Mrs. Dempster. Percy Boyd Staunton begins seeing a beautiful girl named Leola Cruikshank. One day, he is caught cheating on Leola with Mabel Heighington, a girl who is said to have loose morals. Mrs. Heighington grows angry with this but Percy’s father pays her for her daughter’s chastity. Leola forgives Percy and he gets sent away to Colborne College for Boys, where Dunstan spends most of his academic career.

Willie, Dunny’s older brother gets sick of an unspecified condition. One day, he stops breathing in front of Dunny. With no one else at home, Dunny runs for help. Instead of seeking help from a doctor, he runs to Mary Dempster. Mary prays over Dunny’s brother, who suddenly starts breathing again. This is the first miracle that Dunstan’s “saint” showcases. He tells people that this is a miraculous resurrection, but the doctor and the rest of the town thinks he’s foolish.

Mrs. Ramsey continues to forbid her son from seeing Mrs. Dempster any further, triggering a final argument between her and her son. Dunstan decides to escape his mother and their town by enlisting to join the Great War/World War I. Despite being two years younger than the minimum enlisting age, he is still recruited to join. Prior to leaving for duty, he starts a romance with Leola. She tells Dunstan that he has taken her heart from Percy and that she will wait for his return from the war.

Notes: The first part of the book established the main event where the story of Dunstan’s letter to the headmaster is the center of. The fateful snowball incident changed and influenced the lives of everyone involved as the years went by.

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Celis, Christine. "TheBestNotes on Fifth Business". TheBestNotes.com. . 09 May 2017
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