Materialism in "Fifth Business" by Robertson Davies

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Life embodies those whose dreams are involve success. For this definition in Shoeless Joe, by W.P. Kinsella, Ray lives a fulfilled existence by following his dreams and pursuing the idealistic path. He helps others fulfill their meaning of life by traveling miles to find them and to bring them back to his field of dreams. He risks his fortune to do so, ultimately being successful. On the other hand, in the novel “Fifth Business”, by Robertson Davies, Boy Staunton believes that he will be very successful and will get what he wants if he is rich.

Although boy succeeds in getting money and living a life of luxury, he is never truly happy. He always tries to reach his vision, but never seems to achieve it because he does not live in a way that makes his vision a possibility; Boy lives the life he wants. Throughout the novel, the rich possesses a sense of carelessness and he believes that money yields happiness.

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His neglectful view of money and his materialistic attitude, eventually lead to the destruction and downfall of his character. Authors, W.P Kinsella and Robertson Davies contrast materialistic and idealistic values in their novels. ?At the beginning of the novel Shoeless Joe, W.P Kinsella portrays the protagonist Ray as a good father and husband with an ambitious image.

Ray Kinsella is called upon by forces left unknown to the readers and himself, to go on both a physical and heart-felt journey. “If you build it he will come” (Kinsella, 3).

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When Ray first heard the voice he knew that it had a special meaning and it was telling him to do something. At the beginning it seemed to Ray that the voice is just his own imagination, but when the voice constantly repeated he knew that it was real. From that moment Ray knew that his goal would be to build a baseball field and ‘he’ referred to Shoeless Joe. Throughout the novel, Ray Kinsella starts to believe more and more in his dream. Initially, it seemed almost impossible, but as his belief grew, he realized that it might soon be a reality. This idea of believing in one’s dreams is integral to the novel and is shown ideally in Ray’s character. In opposition, Robertson Davies characterizes the antagonist Boy Staunton as a materialistic individual who only cares about himself. When Percy Boy damaged Mary Dumpster’s brain, which caused premature birth, he quickly moved on and forgot about the incident.

After many years, he was asked about recognition of Mrs. Dempster and he replied:” Not at all. Why should I?”(Davies,261). He focused on the negative aspects of his life. Boy is still finishing school and in the process of stealing Dunny’s girl while he was away. By avoiding problems in his childhood Boy became a successful materialist. ?Ray Kinsella’s journey began when he left his family and risked his fortune to fulfill other people’s dreams. At the end he succeeded in accomplishing his goal, but did not expect any award. “I did it all. I listened to the voices, I did what they told me, and not once did I ask what’s in it for me” (Kinsella 230). He was not doing anything to please himself, but thought of others instead. He spent a lot of money to build the field and treated other men like guests. “This is my corn. You people are guests in my corn.” He proved that in order to be happy there is no need to have a lot of money and material objects. He chose an ideal path rather than a material one. While Ray is in a search for inner truth and idealism, Percy is searching for outer beauty and satisfaction with his appearance.

Boy is more concerned with increasing his great wealth and all the possessions money can buy, rather than his ideal well – being. There is nothing more important for Boy than himself and his success. He is an egoist. “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. And I didn’t know what in the world I could do about it.” He believes that he can control life by exerting his willpower. He does not clutter his mind with useless information, and also never forgets what is useful to his advance through life. He knows women only as sexual objects, and thinks only in terms of the surface appearance of things. ?” I feel rotten… I’ve done just about everything I’ve ever planned to do, and everybody thinks I’m a success… But sometimes I wish I could get into a car and drive away from the whole damned thing.” PIOTREK! Daj tu citation!! As he gets older he realizes the sterility of acquiring more things, but unfortunately doesn’t do anything in order to change. ??

In the book Shoeless Joe, W.P. Kinsella wrote about how some people were missing something in their lives, but they found what they had been looking for when they arrived at Ray’s field. Ray built a baseball field to fulfill his unfulfilled dreams of the past. Ray’s father died when he was a teenager, so Ray did not get to spend much time with him. Ray had always longed to see his father again and this dream came true when he built the field. Others had unquenchable dreams like Ray. Archibald Graham never got to bat in the majors, and that was what was missing in his life. “Well, you know I… I never got to bat in the major leagues. I would have liked to have that chance. Just once.” (Kinsella, 165). When Archie Graham came to Ray’s field, he found the thread that tied the meaning of his life. Eddie Scissons also had an unrealized dream, all his life he had lied about himself being the oldest living Chicago Cub, but he was only looking for the recognition that he had always dreamt of having. When he came to Ray’s field, he no longer had to lie about himself being the oldest living Chicago Cub, for that’s exactly what he became.

Ray’s field of dreams helped fulfill the dreams of other men besides himself, and it made all the men very happy to finally find what they have been looking for all their lives. On the other hand, in Fifth Business, Boy’s materialistic values destroyed his marriage and lead to his downfall. “To him the reality was of life lay in external things, whereas for me the only reality was of the spirit – of mind. “(Davies, 114) Percy wants everyone, and everything in control, in his control. He is not able to form warm, lasting human relationship. When Boy realized that his wife is not what he wants he decides to abandon her. When Leola commits suicide Boy’s guilt became so great that he could no longer face it. When Boy realized that his acquisitive way of living destroyed his family and lives of others, suicide was the only way out. “He was killed by the usual cabal: by himself, first of all; by the woman he knew; by the woman he did not know; by the man who granted his inmost wish; and by the inevitable fifth, who was the keeper of his conscience and keeper of the stone.” (Davies, 237).

Both authors R.W. Kineslla and Robertson Davies contrast ideal vs. material values in their novels. They show that life based on material values is shallow and unrewarding, while believing and never giving up on dreams is the only true path to happiness.

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Materialism in "Fifth Business" by Robertson Davies. (2016, Jul 05). Retrieved from

Materialism in "Fifth Business" by Robertson Davies

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