Fifth Business

Paul was born prematurely as a result of the snowball hitting his mother Mary’s head. He is a frail child, who at an early age, and under Dunstan’s tutelage, displays a talent for magic tricks. Mr. Dempster believes magic is sacrilegious and will not allow it in the house. Paul eventually runs away from home after being lured into a circus by Le Solitaire, who is an implied pedophile. He becomes a famous magician and illusionist, going by the name of Magnus Eisengrim. He eventually reconnects with Dunstan, whom he hires to write his magic persona’s falsified autobiography. Through Dunstan he meets Boy Staunton again, whom he kills after learning that Boy threw the snowball that hit his mother and doesn’t remember the incident at all, leaving the stone hidden in the snowball that struck his mother in Boy’s mouth.

Paul Dempster Quotes in Fifth Business

The Fifth Business quotes below are all either spoken by Paul Dempster or refer to Paul Dempster. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Religion, Faith, and Morality Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Penguin Classics edition of Fifth Business published in 2001.
Part 6 Quotes

The Autobiography of Magnus Eisengrim was a great pleasure to write, for I was under no obligation to be historically correct or weigh evidence.

Related Characters: Paul Dempster (speaker), Dunstan Ramsay
Page Number: 215
Explanation and Analysis:

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Paul Dempster Character Timeline in Fifth Business

The timeline below shows where the character Paul Dempster appears in Fifth Business. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Part 1: “Mrs. Dempster”
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...labor, and that the birth is looking to be a difficult and dangerous one. Thus Paul Dempster is born. (full context)
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...the ostensible recipient of this letter, why he begins his account with the birth of Paul Dempster. He explains that he has been deeply offended about an article in the school... (full context)
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...students suggests he is. He writes that he hopes his account of the night of Paul’s birth has already started to convey the “extraordinary” nature of his story. He maintains that... (full context)
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4. Mrs. Ramsay enjoys being able to help with the birth and care of Paul, because it puts her competence and ability on full display. Paul is born roughly 80... (full context)
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A baby has never been born so prematurely in this town, and many expect that Paul will not survive. Dr. McCausland and Mrs. Ramsay do everything to keep Paul healthy, keeping... (full context)
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...“do anything to prevent her from manifesting her wonderfulness.” The hard work pays off, and Paul is finally able to keep milk down. He begins to put on a modest amount... (full context)
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All this time, Dunny is convinced that the premature birth of Paul Dempster is his fault. He talks to Percy about it, but Percy tells him that... (full context)
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One night a few months after Paul’s birth Dunny overhears his mother telling his father that Paul will likely survive—but that Mrs.... (full context)
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...Mrs. Ramsay agrees with the townspeople that Mrs. Dempster has become even more inappropriate after Paul’s birth, going so far as to breastfeed him in front of Mr. Dempster and houseguests.... (full context)
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Dunny is tasked by his parents with looking after Mrs. Dempster and Paul most afternoons after school when Mr. Dempster cannot be there. The house and grounds are... (full context)
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...a few simple illusions and sleights of hand. He chooses for an audience the young Paul Dempster—and displays his talent for teaching as he shows Paul how to do certain tricks. (full context)
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...hands and limited access to appropriately sized coins, but does his best anyway. One day Paul sees Dunny working on a sleight of hand trick that involves flipping a coin between... (full context)
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...Dunny into his study and scolds him for bringing sin into his house by teaching Paul “gambling tricks” and making him into a cheat. What’s more, Amasa has heard that Dunny... (full context)
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...“gifts” of wilted garden vegetables to her neighbors—Mrs. Ramsay always accepts kindly. Dunny only sees Paul once, and he runs away crying. Dunny cannot see Mrs. Dempster or think of Paul... (full context)
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...Banner, stories he thinks would interest her and bits of town gossip. He plays with Paul oftentimes, too, knowing that Paul has no playmates to speak of. It is understood they... (full context)
Part 2: “I Am Born Again”
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...is in his uniform, and they go “a little beyond the kissing stage.” He sees Paul once, but believes Paul doesn’t recognize him because he simply stares blankly. (full context)
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...says that Amasa Dempster had died of the flu, but that Mary had survived. However Paul had run away with the circus just before Amasa died, unable to take the teasing... (full context)
Part 3: “My Fool-Saint”
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...little of her life is Deptford, only that she had been tied up and that Paul had disappeared. She remembers Amasa praying to God about Mary ruining his life—she remembers that... (full context)
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...visit of a circus. Dunstan recognizes the man performing card tricks in the circus as Paul Dempster. Dunstan recognizes his dexterous hands immediately. After the show, he approaches Paul, who has... (full context)
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...him that the circus master, Le Solitaire, had likely carried on a sexual relationship with Paul when he was a boy, and that now he can’t stand to be apart from... (full context)
Part 5: “Liesl”
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...has never lost his love of magic, decides to attend. The magician’s name is Magnus Eisengrim, and though other magic shows had become comical or farcical, his is dripping with a... (full context)
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After the show Dunstan goes backstage in search of Paul but is told that Magnus Eisengrim takes no visitors. He is about to give up... (full context)
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...Dunstan discovers she is not so bad as she looks, and is really quite intelligent. Paul describes the sprit of his show to Dunstan—he doesn’t want to inspire fear or laughter,... (full context)
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4. He is questioning himself a month later, when he has grown utterly sick of Eisengrim and his crew. He especially hates Liesl, but their mysterious work appeals to his loneliness... (full context)
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...fond of her. He tells her everything about the Dempsters, about the miracles, and about Paul’s childhood. He begs of her the next day to keep his secrets, and she refuses... (full context)
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...day she greets him, calling him “St. Dunstan” and he is ecstatic. Though Faustina is Eisengrim’s mistress, he doubts there is any real love there. He begins to wonder if there... (full context)
Part 6: “The Soirée of Illusions”
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1. Dunstan enjoys writing the Autobiography of Magnus Eisengrim, because there is no obligation to be “historically correct” or consider evidence. He fills the... (full context)
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...so lead him to make an impulsive decision—he tells Mrs. Dempster that he has found Paul. However, this news pushes her deeper into insanity—she does not understand why Paul is not... (full context)
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...year after Boy and Denyse are married, Mrs. Dempster dies. Dunstan thinks his disclosure of Paul’s existence broke her in some way, and led to her death. Dunstan visits on her... (full context)
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7. Just Prior to Boy’s Death, In 1968, Magnus Eisengrim travels to Canada. He performs at Colborne College, and after the show walks down the... (full context)
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Boy tries to make fun of Dunstan’s bookish living quarters, but Eisengrim remarks that he likes Dunstan’s space, and Boy relents in his teasing. Eisengrim then reveals... (full context)
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...whore and taunt him in school. Boy cannot remember doing any such thing, and suggests Paul may be confused. He asks Paul again what his name is. Dunstan interjects and tells... (full context)
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Trying to lighten the mood, Boy asks Paul where he got his stage name. Paul responds that it means “wolf,” and notes that... (full context)
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Paul says he remembers everything about Deptford, especially Mrs. Ramsay, whom he believes was the most... (full context)
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Boy is fed up—he accuses Dunstan of trying to humiliate him in front of Paul, and says that Dunstan is simply jealous that Leola chose him. Paul interrupts, saying he... (full context)
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8. The Saturday following Boy’s death, Dunstan goes to see Paul’s show, now called The Soirée of Illusions. During the show, someone asks the Brazen Head... (full context)