Study Guide

Major Pettigrew's Last Stand What's Up With the Title?

By Helen Simonson

What's Up With the Title?

Major Pettigrew's Last Stand would be a good title for a zombie novel. There are no zombies here, although some of the old women in town are just as scary. So what exact is Major's Pettigrew's "last stand"?

He stands up for himself and what he believes in a few times during the course of the novel. He manages to reunite his family's shotguns. He stands up to his snotty son, Roger. He channels "Don Quixote or Sir Galahad" (21.1) and rescues Mrs. Ali. Perhaps a better title would be Major Pettigrew's Last Stands, plural?

His last-last stand could be one of two things, depending on what your definition of "stand" is. (Or your definition of "last.") He stands up to Abdul Wahid on the cliffs, preventing the young man from committing suicide. "Either shoot me or choose to live yourself" (24.124), he says. He also literally stands up to walk Mrs. Ali down the aisle in the epilogue.

So what is his last stand? And does this mean that he won't have anymore "stands" after the book is over?

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