Study Guide

Other Residents of Edgecombe St. Mary in Major Pettigrew's Last Stand

By Helen Simonson

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Other Residents of Edgecombe St. Mary

The Village People

There doesn't seem to be much to do in Edgecombe St. Mary, so most of the other residents are like little mosquitos, buzzing around and annoying the Major. The main offenders are the ladies of the Flower Guild, Daisy Green, the vicar's wife, and Alma Shaw, Alec's wife. The Major looks down on them, saying Mrs. Ali was "a butterfly to their scuffle of pigeons" (1.39). Like pigeons, these ladies leave a mess wherever they go.

Grace is part of the Guild too, but she's not meddling, annoying, and racist like the other two ladies. Daisy and Alma see themselves as superior, in both race and class, and while never resorting to racial slurs or name-calling, there's many an offensive thing that comes out of either mouth.

Mrs. Ali sees them as similar to, if less harmless than, original British imperialists colonizing India. "Those that will come, will come. […] It is not in our power to prevent them." (11.132). There's no changing the mind of either lady, because neither one thinks they're doing anything wrong. Never trust someone who comes over for tea and brings her own tea.

Balancing these two is the Major's neighbor, Alice Pierce. In all honesty, she's just as meddling, but she's does it by organizing a protest to protect the village as part of her "Save Our Village" campaign (16.2). She makes some dubious choices, like allegedly letting the kids off a bus while the men are shooting nearby, in order to cause maximum chaos. But her heart seems to be in the right place.

What is Alice trying to save the village from? Lord Dagenham, of course. According to Alice, "Lord Dagenham intends to make a pretty penny from selling his land and building houses on it" (12.11). The Major confirms this. Dagenham's plan would divide Edgecombe St. Mary even further, creating a new village "available only to old money" (15.174). Of course, he would allow the lower class to stay in order to "have a ready pool of labor" (15.176). It's like Downton Abbey, except it's an entire village instead of just a few estates.

This plan doesn't work in the end, because Ferguson, the American developer, marries Dagenham's niece, Gertrude Dagenham-Smythe. Roger proposes to Gertrude first, but only to raise his social status, so she sees right through it. Ferguson grows to appreciate her resourcefulness.

Two more minor characters cause some drama from outside the village limits. Mortimer Teale, the solicitor, adheres to the letter of the law and won't make any exceptions for the Major regarding the family's guns. And Roger and Sandy rent a cottage from a crazy old woman named Mrs. Augerspier. She is insanely traditional, not wanting to move any of her furniture, and she will only rent to the "right sort of people" (10.82).

Of course, Roger is desperate to be that sort of person, so he recruits the Major to make a good impression. Mrs. Augerspier, whose self-awareness seems to have completely withered with old age, will only rent to white, affluent, mannered people, yet she has the audacity to say, "I am proud to say that I have not a bone of bias in me" (10.95). It would be funny were it not the general attitude among this class of people in the book.

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