Fifth Business

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Dunstan Ramsay’s leg Symbol Analysis

Dunstan Ramsay’s leg Symbol Icon
Dunstan’s leg is lost due to a wartime injury. The injury occurs during a mission that Dunstan succeeded in only because he got lucky, in which he unintentionally snuck up behind a German Machine gun operator when he meant to head back to his own side. He is awarded the Victorian Cross for his heroism and bravery. The leg is a symbol for the chaos and irrationality of history, and of war especially. Dunstan cannot understand why he survived when he so easily could have died. He thinks of the leg as a kind of atonement for his role in Mary Dempster’s misfortune. Thus the leg also stands for the human tendency to rationalize, our psychological need for explanation and cosmic order—perhaps the leg could be said to stand for faith itself. It is at the center of an effort to make sense of chaos, calamity, and chance.
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Dunstan Ramsay’s leg Symbol Timeline in Fifth Business

The timeline below shows where the symbol Dunstan Ramsay’s leg appears in Fifth Business. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Part 2: “I Am Born Again”
Religion, Faith, and Morality Theme Icon
Guilt and Sacrifice Theme Icon
Love, Family, and Psychology Theme Icon
...everyone who worked on his case. The bad news is that he has lost his leg, but Dunny accepts this. (full context)
Part 4: “Gyges and King Candaules”
Religion, Faith, and Morality Theme Icon
Guilt and Sacrifice Theme Icon
The Meaning of Success Theme Icon
History and Mythology Theme Icon
Love, Family, and Psychology Theme Icon
...to a relief of his own guilt. He had thought that the loss of his leg had atoned for his guilt, but now realizes that he has still felt the weight... (full context)