[The Major] didn't like being driven by a woman. He hated their cautious creeping about at intersections, their heavy-handed indifference to the nuances of gear changing, and their complete ignorance of the rearview mirror. (1.80)
The Major is a traditionally crotchety old man, but at least he's a somewhat open-minded one. He may not like being driven by a woman, but he makes an exception for Mrs. Ali, and he keeps his mouth shut about his preconceived notions. She defies them, anyway, which gives him a pleasant surprise. In this case, he's glad to be proven wrong.
[Sandy] left a trail of perfume in the air. It was not unpleasant, he thought, but it hardly offset the appalling manners. (2.51)
There are many things about Sandy that the Major finds rude. Her fragrance is one, but her general Americanness is viewed as less than classy.
"We need to avoid even the semblance of any dishonorable intentions. There are liability issues, you understand?" (4.84)
You've heard of the British being very mannered. When it comes to the dispute over the guns, the Major's attorney believes that he shouldn't rock the boat. It would be beneath everyone to make an issue over a couple of rifles. Strangely, selling the treasured guns for money isn't seen as tacky at all.
[The Major] had never felt animosity toward those who were born into great social position. (5.15)
Speaking of not rocking the boat, the Major is perfectly fine with the whole British class structure situation. Is it easy for him to accept it, considering that he's upper-middle class? He gets a pretty sweet deal, after all.
[The Major] was sure he could talk up his lordship to the heights of an earl and impress upon Marjorie the privilege accorded the entire family by the invitation. (6.131)
The Major knows that his brother's widow is impressed by class, so he plans on inflating Lord Dagenham's title, which will make it seem like he has more money and like he's a more desirable person to sell the guns to.
"Why, Jasmina, you are here too?" [Mrs. Khan] asked. The Major recognized the use of Mrs. Ali's first name as a deliberate slight, but he was grateful to finally hear it. It sounded enchanting even from such a raw and ill-intentioned source. (9.70)
Mrs. Khan intends to position herself in a higher economic class than Mrs. Ali by being the first of them to fling out the other's first name. This is disrespectful; in this context, it's as if Mrs. Khan is speaking to the help—but that's pretty much how Mrs. Khan views Mrs. Ali, who runs a lowly general store.
"I suppose I'm not as important as your friends? And since when did you count shopkeepers as friends? Are you best friends with the milkman now?" (10.84)
Roger is aghast that his father has made friends with the help. Roger believes that people should only hang out with others in their own social class.
"No one tells my son he's a servant, or a 'worker' neither! […] We were asked to help out and no one is going to treat us like dirt." (11.57)
Amina is very sensitive to issues of class. She is both working class and a racial minority, so she is on the receiving end of discrimination for a variety of reasons. Here, she stands up for her own work ethic, and she takes pride in what she does.
"Maybe we should just shoot them," said a banker somewhere down the line. A chorus of approval followed and one or two men leveled their guns at the field. (15.98)
The men at Dagenham's duck hunt feel that they are more entitled to their land than another person is to his or her own life. He suggests shooting a protestor who holds a different opinion. Yikes.
"I'm usually wrapped you half a pound of streaky bacon, three ounces of Gorgonzola, and a half dozen slim panatelas," said Mrs. Ali, raising an eyebrow. (16.84)
The people at the dance don't recognize Mrs. Ali in a fancy gown. They're used to her serving them, and it's hard for them to imagine someone who serves them showing up anywhere as their equal—and in a fancy gown to boot.
"I have produced no children of my own and my husband is dead. […] Thus I am more to be pitied than revered. I am expected to give up the shop to my nephew, who will then be able to afford to bring a very good wife from Pakistan." (1.100)
Major Pettigrew's Last Stand isn't all about stuffy British customs; it's about Middle Eastern society, too. Mrs. Ali has her own customs she is expected to adhere to. How do these customs mesh (or clash)?
"My nephew has recently returned from his studies in Pakistan and is not yet reacquainted with many things here. […] He does not like it when I drive the car." (2.46)
Here is another example of Mrs. Ali's customs. For her family, it isn't customary for women to drive cars. Unexpectedly, the older Mrs. Ali is more modern than her more traditional nephew.
"These guns mean so much to your father," she said at last. "We want you to each have one, to keep his memory." (5.8)
The Major says that he wants to keep the Churchill shotguns out of tradition; they were passed down by his father, after all. Do you agree that the Major is doing this for tradition, or does he have another reason?
[Bertie and Marjorie] immediately began to defy the tradition of the family lunch at Rose Lodge and took to dropping by in the late afternoon instead. (7.2)
It seems that Bertie and Marjorie's slide away from the family started gradually—like by ignoring the family lunch, as we see here. But the tradition pretty much ended when Bertie died and Marjorie decided she wanted to sell the guns. Once tradition is chipped, it quickly cracks open.
He hoped it was not hubris to experience a certain satisfaction that while maharajahs and their kingdoms might fade into oblivion, the Pettigrews soldiered one. (8.12)
The Major is proud of his tradition, but honestly, how long do you think the Pettigrews will actually soldier on? Roger is more bumbling than soldiering on his best days.
"He would have liked this room, my father." He saw Mrs. Ali's gaze taking in the inglenook fireplace, the tall bookcases. […] "I am very honored by your graciousness in inviting me into your home." (8.79)
Mrs. Ali inherited her father's love of traditional literary classics—and the elegant bookshelves that hold them. Hey, the family that reads together stays together, are we right?
"I don't believe the greatest views in the world are great because they are vast or exotic," she said. "I think their power comes from the knowledge that they do not change. You look at them and you know they have been the same for a thousand years." (8.107)
You don't get much more traditional than this: believing in something simply because people have always believed in it. Does Mrs. Ali actually live her life this way, though? To us, she seems much more modern than this statement might lead others to believe.
"My aunt always found the refrigerator perfectly adequate. […] But then young people today will insist on all that convenience food."
"Oh, we're going to shop all the local farm shops," said Roger. "There's nothing quite like fresh vegetables, is there?" (10.39-10.40)
Roger has to convince a potential landlady that he is traditional, when Roger is about as far from traditions as possible. That's why he enlists his more "classic" father to help make the right impression. What's this all about, anyway? Why does the landlady want a "traditional" tenant?
"At the same time, you might want to mention to Roger that we don't allow those newfangled club heads."
"He brought his clubs with him?" asked the Major, unable to hide the dismay in his voice. (11.49)
See what we're talking about regarding Roger bucking tradition? He shows up to a duck hunt wearing brand new clothes and to the golf club with shiny new clubs. Both places prefer a more worn look. Roger wants to be in the in-crowd, but he just doesn't understand the whole culture of the in-crowd yet.
"I thought it was wrong to leave even one small tradition unbroken," she said, smiling. She took his arm and they both watched for a while in silence as the guests gathered. (Epilogue.4)
The Major and Mrs. Ali are breaking tons of traditions by getting married: he's of a different social class than she is, it's an inter-racial marriage, they're of different religions—you name it. So Mrs. Ali sees no reason why they shouldn't see each other before the wedding, smashing that tradition, too.
Six years [Nancy] had been gone. Now Bertie was gone, too. They had left him all alone, the last family member of his generation. He clasped his hands to still a small tremor. (1.14)
This novel begins with a tragic note, one that most books don't usually have, because most books, like most movies, don't star anyone over the age of 40. The Major is in his late sixties, and a lot of his friends and family have started to die off.
Yet today—overcome by the strain he supposed—he had to pause halfway up the stairs to catch his breath. It occurred to him to wonder what would happen if he passed out and fell. (2.126)
Being old, the Major's life has become an "I've fallen and I can't get up" commercial.
"My dear Mrs. Ali, I would hardly refer to you as old," [the Major] said. "You are in what I would call the very prime flowering of mature womanhood." It was a little grandiose but he hoped to surprise a blush. Instead she laughed out loud at him. (5.70)
The Major may have gray hair, and he may not have as much pep in his step, but he sure is still on top of his flirt game.
"I do believe that there are those few who continue to believe in the England that Kipling loved. Unfortunately, we are a dusty bunch of relics." (8.72)
The Major believes that tradition is closely tied in with age, so as the older generation dies off, he thinks that many traditions will start to disappear. But why is that so? If traditions are so old, then they must have been around way longer than the Major's generation. Is there something about Roger's generation in particular that is making the traditions die off?
"It is a fact of life, I suppose, that the younger generation must try to take over and run the lives of their elders." (8.86)
Mrs. Ali shares the Major's sentiment, adding to it that it's not just old people dying off that kills traditions; it's also the fact that younger people want to take over.
Roger always became impatient when [the Major] drifted off into thinking. He seemed to view it as a sign of early-onset dementia. (8.91)
Roger is totally ageist: he blames anything he thinks his father is doing wrong on old age, and he thinks that he can do everything better just because he is younger.
"Look here, it's all very tidy and convenient to see the world in black and white," said the Major, trying to soften his tone slightly. "It's a particular passion of young men eager to sweep away their dusty elders." (14.113)
As he has grown older, the Major has started to see things less in black-and-white and more in shades of grey. And we're not just talking about his hair color.
The age of great men, when a single mind of intelligence and vision might change the destiny of the world, was long gone. He had been born into a much smaller age, and no amount of daydreaming would change the facts. (15.4)
Here we see the Major engaging in a popular old-person pastime: longing for the golden days. But the fact is that more people means change is harder. It was easier to make change in the Major's day in part because there were fewer people to influence.
"At our age, surely there are better things to sustain us, to sustain a marriage, than the brief flame of passion?" (20.37)
At the end of the book, the Major seems to give in to old age, but Grace, who is just as old as the Major is, gets him to reconsider. She tells him that old age is no excuse to give up searching for passion.
"Your mother is gone," Roger," the Major said. "Your uncle Bertie is gone. I don't think I should waste any more time." (20.127)
A young person doesn't have the same perspective on life as an older person, because most of their friends and family members are still alive. As people start to buy the farm in rapid succession, the finiteness of time becomes more apparent.
The Major was venomously opposed to the awful fast-food places that were gradually taking over the ugly stretch of road between the hospital and the seafront, but he was prepared to find her indulgence charmingly out of character. (2.27)
The Major loves his village and his charming English countryside because of the sheer character of the place. He sees the chain restaurants as out of character because they stand out so much: they're loud and garish, the opposite of country charm.
"I did give him up for many decades," she said. "He seemed such a part of those who refuse to reconsider what the Empire meant. But as I get older, I find myself insisting on my right to be philosophically sloppy. It's so hard to maintain that rigor of youth, isn't it?" (5.45)
Mrs. Ali seems to have relaxed some of her principles as she's grown older. This becomes a recurring theme, as the Major learns to do that as well. In fact, they both try to help and the much younger Abdul Wahid relax his principles, too. People of any age can be inflexible, and people of any age can change.
"I rather admire such refusal to bow before authority, but I fear it makes for a very uncomfortable daily existence." (5.96)
Here is the Major trying to tell Abdul Wahid to loosen up. In the long run, putting principles ahead of people just isn't worth it—at least that's not what the Major has learned over the years.
"What I meant to say, Mrs. Green, is that while last year's them was most creative […] not all the guests carried on in the decorous manner that I'm sure you had counted upon." (6.48. 6.50)
This is a biting insult from the Major to the party-planning committee. Do they really "count upon" the dance being "decorous"? It seems they're actually planning parties that make people go wild, just so they can have something to gossip about. It's like high school never ends.
He was very touched by his lordship's words and by the always respectful use of the Major's rank. His lordship could so easily have called him Pettigrew, and yet he never did. In return, the Major never referred to him in the familiar, even behind his back. (6.98)
Principles aren't just for the working class, like Abdul Wahid, or the middle class, like the Major. Lord Dagenham is also respectful—but only when it comes to English tradition and matters of title. He has no principles when it comes to selling his land to an American developer.
"I have already asked Mrs. Ali to attend as my guest," [the Major] said. (11.151)
The Major is a consummate gentleman. He invites Mrs. Ali to the dance, both to protect her from further discrimination and because he really wants to.
"At least Abdul Wahid showed up when invited." (13.17)
Roger has tons of insulting things to say about Abdul Wahid, but the Major is quick to remind Roger that Abdul Wahid has more manners in his little finger than Roger does in his whole body.
"With your military background, you understand better than most men the concept of honor and pride." (14.52)
Are the Major's principles built on his military background? If he hadn't been in the military, would he act just as gentlemanly as he does?
The Major felt despair strike him like a blow to the ar. He had defended the wrong woman. (17.175)
The biggest internal conflict the Major must face is the one in which he realizes that he isn't a principled as he believes himself to be. Or, his principles aren't in line with how he now wants to behave. He defends Grace at a party out of instinct, to defend a woman and to defend someone in his own social class. By doing this, he neglects to defend Mrs. Ali when she really needs the ally.
"I do not blame you for the rudeness of others," [Mrs. Ali] said. (21.66)
Mrs. Ali isn't as juvenile as many of the village ladies are. She understands that the Major's actions reflect on himself and himself alone.
"Either shoot me or chose to live yourself," said the Major. "I can't face your aunt any other way. How strange to think that we come as a pair now." (24.124)
The Major knows that the best way to impress Mrs. Ali is by being a gentleman, and he's going to talk Abdul Wahid down from his rocky ledge even if it kills him. The Major was initially driven by his belief that the pair of guns should be reunited, but by the end of the book, he's found a different pair—himself and Mrs. Ali.
Several times, Major Pettigrew had been in the store when young boys on a dare would stick their enormous ears in the door to yell "Pakis go home!" Mr. Ali would only shake his head and smile while the Major would bluster and stammer apologies. (1.24)
The young boys' behavior is reprehensible, and sadly, they probably learned it from their own parents. The Major feels it necessary to apologize for them, but that doesn't change the racism in the village.
The Major had heard many a lady proudly speak of "our dear Pakistani friends at the shop" as proof that Edgecombe St. Mary was a utopia of multicultural understanding. (1.24)
The villagers act like they live in some magical post-racial Edgecombe St. Mary, but, while not as aggressive or borderline violent as the phrase "Pakis go home!", this comment is rooted in similar racism.
"Excuse me, Ernest, there's a strange woman outside who says she's waiting for you? […] Are you expecting a dark woman in a small Honda?" (2.13)
The Major's brother's widow doesn't just say "a woman"—she says "a dark woman." These people act like they've never seen a non-white person in their lives. Oh, wait: most of them haven't… unless it's behind a counter.
"I don't know what it's like where you come from, but we try to keep things nice and genteel around here." (5.78)
This statement by a shop clerk basically amounts to her saying "you people" to Amina. No wonder Amina gets offended.
"I say we should talk to Mrs. Ali, the lady who runs the village shop in Edgecombe," said Alma.
"Perhaps she could cater some Indian specialties for us, or direct us to where we can buy or borrow some cheap props—like some of those statues with all the arms." (6.71)
Alma thinks of important gods in the Hindu religion as "cheap props." What she really shows here is her ignorance of Hindu culture, but that doesn't mean what she says isn't racist.
Regardless of [Mrs. Khan's] husband's prominence, or their generosity, [the Major] thought it quite unlikely that Daisy or the membership committee would have any interest in entertaining the question of their joining the club. (9.105)
The subtext here, barely below the surface, is that Mrs. Khan will not get to join the club because he and his family are not white.
"We've gone from being the right sort of people to being a strange bunch with a circus of hangers-on. For God's sake, one's Pakistani and one's tipsy—what were you thinking?" (10.82)
Roger lumps an alcoholic and a Pakistani into the same category. Both, to him, are problems that need to be addressed. That Roger sure is a charmer.
"Well, it's all the same thing," said Daisy. "It's all India, isn't it?"
"But it's not the same at all," said the Major. (11.110-11.111)
You would never hear Daisy say, "It's all England, isn't it?" That's because she is the type of person who cares about her own culture and heritage and dismisses everything else.
"Mrs. Ali is so quintessentially Indian, or at least quintessentially Pakistani, in the best sense." (11.145)
Alma might as well call Mrs. Ali "quintessentially brown," because just about all she can see is skin color. She makes no effort to know the woman beneath the brown skin. And what on earth does she mean by "in the best sense"?
"And 'everyone' disapproved, of course," said the Major. "No doubt because she is a woman of color." (20.109)
Here, the Major calls out Roger (and everyone else) on his racism to his face. Roger will never admit it, but Mrs. Ali's race is a big factor in his dislike of her. Her social class is another. But he likely wouldn't be as disapproving if Mrs. Ali were a white shopkeeper.
"Is it worth the struggle, one must ask, if the result is the loss of family and the breaking of tradition?" (1.102)
Mrs. Ali is very conflicted because she has to choose between family and what she believes in. On the other hand, she doesn't share her family's beliefs of putting tradition first, especially when tradition comes at the expense of her independence.
"You are lucky," said Mrs. Ali. "You Anglo-Saxons have largely broken away from such dependence on family. Each generation feels perfectly free to act alone and you are not afraid." (1.104)
Mrs. Ali sees this as a benefit, but this is what bothers the Major most. He wants a relationship with his son. He doesn't like that Roger feels free to act alone.
"You must enjoy your family and I must be getting back." (2.40)
By this point, the Major thinks a relationship with his son is beyond hope. The rest of his family is dead, so the Major would pretty much just rather spend time with Mrs. Ali, his new family.
"He was my golden boy, too, when he was little. I'm afraid that Ahmed and I spoiled him terribly." She hugged her book a little tighter to her chest and sighed. "We were not blessed with children of our own, and Abdul Wahid was the very image of my husband when he was small." (5.52)
Mrs. Ali feels closer to Abdul Wahid than most aunts feel to their nephews, since she practically raised him. In fact, she's closer to her nephew than the Major is to his own flesh and blood.
It had been obvious soon after Bertie's marriage that Marjorie had no intention of playing the dutiful daughter-in-law and had sought to separate the two of them from the rest of the family. (7.2)
The Major might be the only person in his family to actually care about his family. His own son has distanced himself, and so has his dead brother's family. That makes the Major very very lonely.
"Oh, Jemima, don't be so rude to your uncle Ernest, dear," said Marjorie. "He is one of our only friends now." (7.34)
Marjorie says this, but she makes no effort to actually treat her brother-in-law as a friend or as family. Her daughter, Jemima, is just as disrespectful.
"Oh, certainly," said Grace. "I wish I had children to come and live near me." Her voice held a hint of a pain unconnected with digestive problems. (10.141)
Even though the Major and Mrs. Ali are subject to torment by their children (or in Mrs. Ali's case, the nephew who is basically her son), Grace wishes she had some kids. For her, no torment is torment enough.
"I had to come and see for myself that you don't love me. […] I never believed them when they said you left of your own accord, but I see now that you are the product of your family, Abdul Wahid." (11.167)
Adhering to family traditions isn't always a good thing, especially when your family is as crazy as Abdul Wahid's side of the family is. Amina hopes Abdul Wahid is different… but he isn't.
"Extra relatives are useful, I suppose—additional bridge player at family parties, or another kidney donor." (11.173)
The Major's assessment here is a little cold, but it's pretty funny. At this point in his life, that's all his family is, really… except that they're not even going to play cards with him, and they're so selfish that they probably wouldn't donate an organ, either.
Roger was by no means a bulky man and the way he filled the uniform so tightly gave the Major the unpleasant sensation that his own father must have been more slight and insubstantial than he remembered. (17.19)
This is a brief statement, but it reveals so much of how the Major thought of his own father… and how that opinion is changing. The Major sees his father as a larger-than-life character, but after the ceremony, he sees him as only human, and a flawed human, at that, who directly participated in British imperialism.
The Major was miserably confused. He was tempted to climb in the car and go right now. It would be early enough when they got back to invite Mrs. Ali in for tea. They could discuss her new book. (2.32)
The Major knows that one of the best ways to get to know people is to discuss the books they read. And if someone doesn't read, well, that's not a person worth getting to know.
"I'm sorry, let me just move these," she said, and scooped two or three plastic-covered library books out of his way. (4.17)
Seeing these books pretty much acts as an aphrodisiac for the Major. For him, a well-read woman is the sexiest woman of them all.
"There's nothing useless about reading the classics," said the Major, weighing the books in his hand. "I salute your continue efforts. Too few people today appreciate and pursue the delights of civilized culture for their own sake." (4.33)
The Major's traditional nature extends to his love of books. As an old white guy, he loves the old white guys of classic British literature, and Kipling is about as old and as white as you can get. It's a good thing Mrs. Ali likes Kipling, showing that she, too, has a thing for old white guys. (More importantly, it shows that she has an open and unconventional mind.)
"I wanted so much to share with him the world of books and of ideas and to pass on to him what I was given." (5.54)
Mrs. Ali is talking about Abdul Wahid here, but it seems she wasn't able to actually impart her love of books to him. She sees that as a personal failing. The Major doesn't seem like he made Roger feel as passionate about reading either, so they have this in common.
"You are right, of course, but I tell myself that it does not matter what one reads—favorite authors, particular themes—as long as we read something. It is not even important to own the books." (5.64)
This statement explains Mrs. Ali's love of libraries. While she also loved her father's personal library, she has had to come to terms with losing it. Now she is happy possessing a book even if it's only temporarily.
Mrs. Ali had marked many pages with tiny clips of orange paper and, after some prompting from him, she had agreed to read from the fragments that interested her. (8.67)
Mrs. Ali isn't just a reader—she's a close reader, marking her favorite passages. And since these are library books, she isn't writing in them, either. She respects the book. We're falling in love with her, too.
"How amazing is it that we ever planned to read it indoors," said Mrs. Ali. "It has so much more power out here where it was made." (14.16)
Reading isn't just a pastime to do inside a dusty old room. Mrs. Ali brings her love of reading outside and shares it with the world.
"Life does often get in the way of one's reading," agreed the Major. (14.86)
The Major seems like the type of guy who might sit around and read all day, even if he is just reading the same books over and over again. Since he marries Mrs. Ali in the end, we see lots of hot reading sessions in their future.
Would Don Quixote or Sir Galahad have been able to maintain his chivalrous ardour for the romantic quest, wondered the Major, if he had been forced to crawl bumper-to-bumper through an endless landscape of traffic cones, belching lorries, and sterile motorway service areas? (21.1)
The Major's major romantic ideals are literary characters. No surprise, coming from a man so literary.
"Sometimes you can't fix everything," said Amina. "Life isn't always like books." (25.84)
Amina says this, and it may apply to her, but it doesn't apply to the Major at all. His life turns out exactly like a classic romantic novel, probably because Major Pettigrew's Last Stand is a classic romantic novel, in a modern sense.
"You have family, of course."
"Yes, quite an extended family." He detected a dryness in her tone. "But it is not the same as the infinite bond between a husband and wife." (1.30)
Mrs. Ali was closer to her husband than she was to any members of her family, aside, perhaps, from her deceased father, whom she loved and respected very much.
"I have an old tweed jacket that my husband used to wear," she said softly. "Sometimes I put it on and take a walk around my garden. And sometimes I put his pipe in my mouth to taste the bitterness of his tobacco." (1.34)
Losing a spouse is hard, and Mrs. Ali and the Major show that losing a beloved husband or wife isn't something a person ever really gets over. They try to hang on to their spouses as much as possible while continuing to live in the moment.
The will made no mention of any bequests of personal items, to anyone, offering only a single line: "My wife may dispose of any and all personal effects as she deems fit." (4.59)
There's a downside to being closer to a spouse than the rest of the family, but that downside is for the family. The Major respects his family, but his brother put his wife and his newer family first.
"My nephew insists he cannot sleep under my roof with an unmarried woman, so he slept in the car," said Mrs. Ali. "I pointed out the obvious inconsistency in his thinking, but his new religiosity permits him to be stubborn." (12.82)
Abdul Wahid's devotion to his marriage has him pretending that he can't be in the presence of an unmarried woman. The "obvious inconsistency" here is that this didn't stop him before: he is the father of Amina's child, meaning that he did more than just sleep under a roof with her.
"We have no plans to get married anytime soon, or I would have told you." (13.90)
The Major is a traditional man. He's not as traditional as Abdul Wahid, but he still values marriage, and it seems like he'd rather Roger and Sandy be married if they're going to live together.
"Marriage is a wonderful part of life," said the Major.
"Yes, so's retirement," said Roger. "But you might as well put them both off as long as possible." […]
"All this lack of commitment these days—doesn't it smack of weakness of character?" (13.94-13.96)
The Pettigrew family's attitudes toward marriage are very representative of modern attitudes. Many younger people, like Roger, don't see marriage as the same commitment as their elders do.
"They took me away from her because of faith. I didn't like it, but I understood and I forgave them. Now I fear they withdraw their objection in order to secure financial advantage." (14.106)
In Abdul Wahid's culture, marriage isn't about love—it's about a transaction. Abdul Wahid doesn't approve of this. He doesn't want to marry Amina just so his family can gain a store.
"What about the wedding?" [Mrs. Ali] asked. "I must see them safely married." (21.81)
Just because Mrs. Ali thinks it's silly for Abdul Wahid to refuse to sleep in a house with an unmarried woman, that doesn't mean she's not excited to see him get hitched. She makes attending the wedding her top priority… even if it ends up not happening in the end.
"Must ask you to marry me," he said as he drifted away. "Not in this dreadful room, of course." (25.60)
The Major isn't going to waste any time marrying Mrs. Ali. They don't have much time left, after all, so he doesn't have the luxury of waiting the way Roger thinks he does.
"Mrs. Ali," he said, delighting in using her name one last time, "shall we go forth and get married?" (Epilogue.15)
This is the final line in the book. Perhaps Major Pettigrew's last stand is him standing next to Mrs. Ali at the altar?