Margaret Laurence's "Stone Angel" and Fifth Business "Fifth Business"

Essay by Dan MiloCollege, UndergraduateA-, February 1997

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Every piece of literature that has been written uses words, which have concrete meaning

in everyday life. As a result of that it cannot ever be completely abstract. Theme is what sustains its link with living, by giving it a topic or idea that extends it beyond the aesthetic, and unites it with the preoccupation of humanity. A work can have one theme or many, and Margaret Laurence's and Davies Robertson's essential humanism makes it very inevitable that in this respect their novels are multifaceted. In their novels The Stone Angel and The Fifth Business the main characters Hagar Shipley and Dunny Ramsay through the birth, lack of feelings and escape from the family have undergone similar feelings of guilt through their whole lives.

First of all, Dunny the main character of The Fifth Business, for whom the snowball was intended, feels extremely guilty because he knew that Percy Staunton with whom he had earlier a fight, would throw one final snowball at him before he goes into the house for supper.

To avoid the coming snowball he dodges around pregnant Mrs. Dempster who at the same time gets hit on the head, causing her great pain. Dunny is just reaching puberty and listening to his mother's reports on the premature birth of Paul Dempster gave him the sense that he is directly involved in it. Furthermore, he has been raised in a strict Presbyterian household that has encouraged him to feel guilty about almost every lapse of duty.

So at the beginning of the two novels the reader learns that the first feeling of guilt that the two main characters share is a birth of one of the characters presented in the novels. In The Stone Angel Hagar blamed herself for being born, because it was she that caused...