ed by manyMany people dislike a certain individual when they meet or exceed certain predefined criteria. In the novel FIFTH BUSINESS by Robertson Davies, the antagonist, Percy Boyd Staunton, performs a number of incidents, which leads one to dislike him. He denies his guilt of throwing a snowball, happily displays nude pictures of his wife, and commits adultery. In his early childhood, Boy throws a paperweight concealed in a snowball at Mrs. Dempster. Towards the end of the book, Boy denies ever throwing the snowball at her, oblivious to the fact that Dunstable (Dunny) Ramsay was present at that time. The fact that a man of such grace and distinction like Boy Staunton denies the guilt of throwing the snowball that causes a dramatic change in the mental stability of Mrs. Dempster, as well as the birth of a premature child, Paul Dempster, angers one. Shortly after Mrs. Dempster’s assailant, Boy, throws the snowball at her, Dunny, unable to contain his own guilt, confronts Boy about the guilty deed. Boy, exemplifying his nonchalant attitude, denies all accusations Dunny makes about him. Dunny makes this point evident when he says, “We looked into each other’s eyes and I knew that he was afraid, and I knew also that he would fight, lie, do anything rather than admit what I knew” (Davies 23). In today’s society, all people are responsible for their own actions, and trying to escape from them creates the image of a cheap coward. This is the hateful expression that one would get from Boy Staunton’s denial of the truth. Percy Boyd Staunton changes his name to Boy Staunton, which is consistent with his self-image as an eternally young and fatally handsome swordsman among the ladies. Boy later marries Leola Cruikshank, the girl who his best friend, Dunny, has had his eye on since they were children. As the years go by, the relationship between Boy and Leola starts to disintegrate. Throughout their marriage, Boy wants Leola to be something she cannot. Leola tries hard to suit his lifestyle but eventually Boy realizes that she is not what he wants. Boy treats Leola as an object, rather than as a woman as well as his wife. A serious incident which takes place between Boy and Leola is when Boy gives Dunny a number of reels of film, and asks him to develop them for him. At first, this seems a harmful favour, but when Dunny realizes that those reels contain naked pictures of Leola, it embarrasses as well as angers him to a great extent. This would be an instant reaction of the reader, too, because of the obscenity and shame that those pictures contain. Moreover, Boy’s excitement over the pictures at the dinner table would provide a discomfort to one, as Dunny narrates:
‘Boy, please put them away or I’ll have to go upstairs. I don’t want Dunny to see them while I’m here.’
‘Leo, I never thought you were such a little prude.’
‘Boy, it isn’t nice.’
‘Nice, nice, nice! Of course it isn’t nice! Only fools worry about what’s nice. Now sit here by me, and Dunny on the other side, and be proud of what a stunner you are.’ (Davies 157)
One would not be enjoying his wife’s uneasiness while she is being forced to sit and view the naked pictures of herself with her husband, as well as his best friend. This incident would be offensive and rude not only to any reader, but to women in general, and would be another reason why one would dislike Boy. Although Leola tries hard, she cannot keep pace with Boy’s social advancement. As the novel continues, the reader comes across a bleak Christmas day at the Stauntons’. Leola buys all the presents for the children, yet Boy finds fault with most of them. This spiritless day is highlighted with the discovery of Boy’s inexcusable act of cheating with a woman in Montral. After the discovery of a note from this woman in Boy’s overcoat, Leola slips into a desolate state, sobbing dreadfully. This scene would not only break a reader’s heart, but would add fuel to the fire of hatred and dislike raging in one’s mind at Boy’s response to his wife:
‘There’s no reason to carry on like that But if you think I intend to be tied down to this sort of thing’ – and he gestured towards the drawing-room, which was, I must say, a dismal, toy-littered waste of wealthy, frumpish domesticity – ‘you can think again.’ (Davies 186)
As a result of Leola being unable to adhere to his standards, Boy begins neglecting her and their children. For a father to respond to his wife in such an insulting manner would not only disgrace Leola, but would have more of an affect on the children present in that room. Children are the most precious creatures in our society, and treating them with disrespect, uttering insults to each other, and displaying sinful habits in front of them could scar them for life. Boy’s sinful behaviour of adultery would have a serious affect on his children in the future, as well as crush his wife’s self-esteem. As his neglect and carelessness grows, so does Boy’s guilt. This is evident when Boy does not attend Leola’s funeral after her suicide. Throughout the novel, Davies illustrates predefined unpleasant criteria which Boy seems to excel in. Denying the guilt of throwing the snowball which injures a person, happily displaying nude pictures of his wife in the presence of her and a friend, as well as committing adultery and disrespecting his children are some of the many occurrences that Boy Staunton experiences, which would be reasons why a reader would be directed to dislike him. If Boy tries to follow the saying “Try not to become a man of success but rather try to become a man of value,” he would probably win the hearts of many instead of being the man who is led to be disliked by all.


Works Cited Page
Davies, Robertson. FIFTH BUSINESS. Canada: The Macmillan Company of Canada Limited, 1970