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.
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”
Part 4: “Gyges and King Candaules”