Fifth Business

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The stone in the snowball Symbol Analysis

The stone in the snowball Symbol Icon
Percy packs a stone into the snowball that accidentally strikes Mary Dempster’s head instead of Dunstan’s. At the end of the novel it is revealed that Dunstan has kept this stone his whole life, unwilling or unable to discard it. This stone is finally placed (presumably by Paul) into the mouth of Boy Staunton after his murder (which is made—by Paul—to look like a car accident). The stone is a symbol for Dunstan’s enduring guilt and sense of responsibility, as well as a symbol for Boy’s complete ignorance and lack of responsibility. In this way it functions more generally as a symbol for the disparity in individual experience. The event containing the stone—the throwing of the snowball—is perceived completely differently by Dunstan and Boy. While it almost mystically shapes Dunstan’s whole life, it doesn’t even exist in Boy’s memory at all. In a novel so dedicated to examining history and its meaning, the stone serves as a reminder that history is filtered through the psyches of the individuals who experience it.
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The stone in the snowball Symbol Timeline in Fifth Business

The timeline below shows where the symbol The stone in the snowball appears in Fifth Business. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Part 6: “The Soirée of Illusions”
The Meaning of Success Theme Icon
Love, Family, and Psychology Theme Icon
...Cadillac in 1968, which had been driven into the Toronto Harbor at high speeds. A stone—pinkish granite the size of an egg—had been mysteriously found in his mouth. The press had... (full context)
Guilt and Sacrifice Theme Icon
History and Mythology Theme Icon
Love, Family, and Psychology Theme Icon
...him a paperweight, and asks him if this jogs his memory. It is a pinkish stone. Boy says he’s seen it a thousand times and it has never reminded him of... (full context)
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
...ride. Paul agrees. The next morning, after Dunstan hears of Boy’s death, he notices his stone paperweight is gone. (full context)
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
...and by “the inevitable fifth, who was keeper of his conscience and keeper of the stone.” (full context)