Study Guide

Major Pettigrew's Last Stand

Major Pettigrew's Last Stand Summary

On the morning Major Ernest Pettigrew's brother dies, the Major, himself a widower pushing seventy, receives an unexpected visitor: Mrs. Ali, the town shopkeeper in the village of Edgecombe St. Mary. The two have previously only crossed paths in the shop, but this day, she enters his house to prepare him some tea and console him. It's the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

Mrs. Ali drives the Major to his brother's funeral. At the funeral, not only does the Major's son, Roger, show up late, but everyone also seems focused on one thing—a family heirloom worth thousands of pounds. When the Major's father died years ago, he left his sons a pair of hunting guns, one gun per son, with the promise they be reunited and passed on when one of them died. The Major looks forward to reuniting the pair. His son wants to sell them.

To make this family dispute worse, the Major's brother included nothing about the guns in his will, meaning that his widow is free to do whatever she wants with them. The Major formulates a little white lie, saying that he will show the guns to an American land developer, though his intention is to get the other gun back and restore it. The American land developer is real, but the Major has no plans to sell. He gets the gun and polishes it back to new.

While all this is happening, the Major is wrangled into planning a village dance by Daisy, the vicar's wife, and Grace, a member of the flower committee. Their theme is "An Evening at the Mughal Court," and Grace and the Major agree to collaborate with Mrs. Ali to make the dance as un-racist as possible. Mrs. Ali recruits a friend of hers and discovers that her friend's niece, Amina, is the mother of her nephew Abdul Wahid's son. Got that?

So, in addition to gun polishing and party planning, now the Major has to help convince Abdul Wahid to marry Amina. But Abdul Wahid, who refuses to stay under one roof with an unmarried woman, moves out when Mrs. Ali moves Amina in. So the Major agrees to let Abdul Wahid stay with him, which creates tension between the Major and his son, Roger, who cannot believe a Muslim is staying there.

Complicated enough for you? Well, it gets more tangled. Roger has an American girlfriend, Sandy, and the two of them are cottage shopping in the English countryside. They enlist the Major's help, but Roger and Sandy's relationship doesn't last. Eventually, Sandy realizes that Roger's only priority is Roger, specifically advancing himself in English society. She isn't a ladder rung to be stepped on, so Sandy dumps Roger on Christmas Eve and returns to the States.

Finally, the big racist party happens, starring all the Pakistani people in town pretending to be Indian because the white party planners don't know any different slash don't care. It comes as no surprise that this does not go well. Mrs. Ali's friend, Mrs. Rasool, brings her father-in-law, who starts yelling at everyone for mocking his culture. He has a point.

Things escalate quickly, and when Daisy insults Mrs. Ali by telling Grace she shouldn't associate with her, the Major defends Grace, saying "Grace is entitled to have anyone she likes to tea" (17.173). He quickly realizes that he should have defended Mrs. Ali, the woman he is falling in love with, instead, but it's too late.

Mrs. Ali agrees to give her store as a dowry of sorts to her husband's family so that Abdul Wahid and Amina can wed. She moves in with her in-laws and completely disappears from Edgecombe St. Mary. The Major is depressed. He leans on Grace, Mrs. Ali's other friend in town, for support. Grace is pretty awesome, so the Major proposes marriage to her.

Proposal rejected. Grace informs the Major that, no matter what your age, passion is a key component to a marriage. She and the Major have a friendship, but there's no passion. Mrs. Ali—now, that's where the Major's passion lies. Grace manages to get Mrs. Ali's address, and the Major decides to pay her a visit. It turns out that she has been writing to him, but her manipulative brother-in-law wasn't mailing the letters.

Feeling as heroic as Sir Galahad, the Major sweeps Mrs. Ali away, and they make love in a romantic cabin in the woods. Then they return to Edgecombe St. Mary for the wedding of Amina and Abdul Wahid. Does anyone have any objections to this wedding? Yes, one of Abdul Wahid's crazy relatives does, so she stabs Amina with a knitting needle.This book just got real, y'all. Real nuts.

The crazy old woman and Abdul Wahid travel to the seaside cliffs, where Abdul Wahid plans to throw himself over the edge in a sudden fit of suicidal impulses. The Major and Mrs. Ali pursue, and the Major brings one of his prized guns along (remember those?). The Major clocks the old woman with the butt of the gun (we are not making this up) and knocks her out. Then he has to talk Abdul Wahid down from the ledge. The Major stands between Abdul Wahid and the ocean, gives Abdul Wahid the gun, and tells him, "Either shoot me or choose to live yourself" (24.124). Abdul Wahid can't do it, so he tosses the gun aside…

The gun goes off, shooting the Major anyway. Oops. The Major falls over the cliff, but Abdul Wahid saves him, and the Major is taken to the hospital. While the Major is in the hospital, Amina and Abdul Wahid decide not to marry, after all, because Amina doesn't want to spend her life in a store. She's a dancer, born to dance! But she promises to stay close, so Abdul Wahid can have a relationship with his son.

After recovering, the Major officially proposes to Mrs. Ali, and the two are wed. Aww. We hope they live happily ever after.

  • Chapter 1

    • Major Pettigrew is "upset about the call from his brother's wife" (1.1), but we don't know why yet. Maybe she's a telemarketer or a political pollster.
    • Someone comes to the door, and the Major answers it.
    • The Major's visitor is Mrs. Ali, the village shopkeeper, and she's collecting newspaper money because the paperboy is sick. That's what happens when you dance in your underwear in the rain with Nicole Kidman.
    • In shock, the Major blurts out "my brother died" (1.8). Okay, that's worse than a telemarketing call.
    • Mrs. Ali comes inside to get the Major a glass of water and make some tea. If there's one thing the British know, it's that tea cures everything.
    • The Major and Mrs. Ali two chat over tea. Major Pettigrew's wife, Nancy, died six years ago, and Mrs. Ali's husband, Mr. Ali, also died within the last two years.
    • After the Major has calmed a bit, Mrs. Ali takes her leave, and the Major calls his son, Roger.
    • Roger already heard the news from his cousin, Jemima, and he doesn't know if he can make it to the funeral.
    • Tuesday arrives, and the Major gets in his car to drive to the funeral. But he starts to panic, and he sits at the steering wheel, frozen.
    • Mrs. Ali notices, and she knocks on the window. She offers to drive the Major to avoid something like this from happening.
    • Mrs. Ali's a good driver, and the Major calms down a bit during the drive. She drops him off at the service. He's made it.
    • But Roger hasn't…
  • Chapter 2

    • Roger arrives late to his uncle's memorial service, and instantly starts asking about the family's greatest heirloom—a pair of Churchill shotguns given to each brother, the Major and Bertie—and intended to be reunited when one of them passes.
    • Jemima, Bertie's daughter, believes the rifles should be reunited instantly… and sold.
    • Roger agrees, because he wants those dollah-dollah bills.
    • While the Major tries not to blow a gasket at how rude this is, Marjorie, Bertie's widow, wonders who that strange brown lady is outside.
    • The Major explains it's his ride, Mrs. Ali, and Roger wonders if he could drive his dad home instead.
    • The Major would rather go back with Mrs. Ali, so he goes outside to invite her in, but she insists he ride home with his son, and she leaves.
    • After Mrs. Ali pulls away, Sandy, Roger's alluring American girlfriend, arrives. The Major is aghast that he would invite her.
    • Inside, Roger formally introduces Sandy, who works in fashion PR, and they soon leave to go home.
    • On the ride home, Roger reveals that he and Sandy are looking for cottages in the area.
    • Roger plans on moving closer to the Major, although when the Major invites Roger inside when they get home, Roger declines. Charming.
    • Inside, alone, the Major almost collapses in bed from exhaustion.
  • Chapter 3

    • Two days after the funeral, the Major gets a visit from Daisy Green, the Vicar's wife, and Alma Shaw and Grace DeVere of the Flower Guild. The Lollipop Guild only meets on weekends.
    • The Major tolerates the ladies' gossiping—and their tea, which they brought themselves—until they leave, then he decides to visit Mrs. Ali at her shop.
    • At the shop, the Major finds Mrs. Ali in the back and thanks her for her kindness the other day.
    • Mrs. Ali doesn't want to discuss it in front of her nephew, Abdul Wahid, who runs the counter, because he is very traditional and does not like it when his aunt drives a car.
    • Mrs. Ali asks if she can do anything else for him, and he asks for a ride on Thursday to visit the family solicitor and go over Bertie's will. It's Thursday today, so we guess he means next Thursday.
    • Mrs. Ali agrees to drive the Major, leaving him "smiling like a fool" (3.56).
  • Chapter 4

    • Thursday morning, the Major wakes up. He's disappointed it's raining, because he wanted to ask Mrs. Ali for a walk after their errands.
    • When the phone rings, the Major fears it's Mrs. Ali calling to cancel—because we guess she's made of sugar and will melt in the rain—but it's his friend Alec wanting to play golf. The Major reschedules for next week.
    • By two in the afternoon, the rain has stopped, and Mrs. Ali arrives to take the Major on his errand.
    • On the way, the Major and Mrs. Ali talk about books—litrachuh! to be precise: classics like Guy de Maupassant and Samuel Johnson.
    • Mrs. Ali drops the major off at Tewkesbury and Teale, solicitors, to speak with Mortimer Teale about Bertie's will.
    • The Major is the executor, so it's his job to see that everything is properly carried out. No big deal, except for the fact that the guns aren't mentioned at all.
    • Mortimer suggests the Major have a "friendly chat" (4.74) with his brother's widow about the matter. But the says that if there should be a "conflict of interest" (4.76), the Major'll have to find someone else to act as executor.
    • The Major is not happy. He hopes there won't be any problems. You wouldn't like the Major when he's angry.
  • Chapter 5

    • Sitting on a park bench, the Major remembers when his father died and left him and Bertie one Churchill shotgun each.
    • The guns were a gift to the Major's father by an Indian prince for courageous service.
    • The Major never understood why his father divided the guns. He wanted both. Bertie wasn't a shooter, after all.
    • A seagull snaps the Major out of his reverie, and Mrs. Ali is nearby.
    • Mrs. Ali asks if the Major wants to go for a walk before returning to the car, and, since this was his plan all along, he agrees.
    • On their walk, Mrs. Ali shows the Major a book by Rudyard Kipling she checked out from the library. They talk about her family for a bit before crossing paths with a six-year-old playing with a ball.
    • The Major kicks the boy his ball, and a nearby lady in a tea kiosk chastises them. "No football allowed 'ere" (5.75), she says, prompting the boy's mother, a young Indian woman, to yell at the tea lady.
    • It escalates when tea lady remarks, "I don't know what it's like where you come from" (5.78), and the young Indian woman takes this as a racial comment.
    • Mrs. Ali and the Major stay out of it and talk to the lady's son, George, until his mother grabs him and storms away.
    • The Major and Mrs. Ali get tea, glad the tea lady isn't mad at them, too, and they talk about his visit to the solicitor.
    • Then the Major and Mrs. Ali return home, but not before Mrs. Ali asks if she can pop by to discuss Kipling with him sometime.
    • The Major is delighted.
  • Chapter 6

    • At the golf club, the Major chats with his friend Alec. Alec's wife, Alma, is on the dance committee, and they are planning the next dance… while Alec tries to stay out of it.
    • After golf, the men get roped into the ladies' discussion at the club grill.
    • Daisy and her gang decide on an evening in an Indian court as a theme.
    • Grace, the only one among them with two brain cells to rub together, suggests they consult Mrs. Ali.
    • Grace decides to do it personally, along with the Major, so as not to cause any unintended offense.
    • The Major and Alec detach themselves from the women and relocate to the bar. There, they bump into Lord Dagenham, who introduces them to Frank Ferguson, a real estate developer from Jersey.
    • The men talk about an upcoming duck shoot on Dagenham's estate, which prompts the Major to mention his pair of Churchills.
    • Ferguson would love to see them, but the Major isn't actually invited to the shoot.
    • Even though it's not his place to do so, Ferguson invites the Major along.
    • When they leave, Alec asks the Major about the guns. The Major insists it shouldn't be any trouble to get the gun from Bertie's widow if he just asks.
  • Chapter 7

    • The Major, who is fine to drive now, drives to Marjorie's house to ask about the guns. He doesn't call first. The nerve.
    • The discussion among Marjorie, Jemima, and the Major is a little tense, until the Major mentions Ferguson, the American, and his interest in the guns.
    • By convincing the women that this man may pay top dollar—er, pay top pounds sterling—for the guns, they give him Bertie's gun to restore before the big shooting day. Mission accomplished.
  • Chapter 8

    • The Major is having Mrs. Ali over for tea and book chat. He's trying to play it cool, but he's fretting over which tea service to use more than most people fret about an outfit for a first date.
    • The Major finally decides on a nice silver teapot and blue cups. While he waits, he polishes the Churchill gun he got from his brother's widow.
    • Roger calls and asks the Major to come with him to look at a cottage on Thursday at two.
    • The Major has another drive scheduled with Mrs. Ali that day, so he reschedules Roger for three.
    • Finally, Mrs. Ali shows up. They peep at the Major's garden and talk about Kipling.
    • At one point, the conversation shifts to Roger, and the Major suggests "running away to a quiet cottage in a secret location" (8.89) in order to get away from him.
    • Mrs. Ali laughs at the joke, but she says, "Perhaps I may join you?" (8.90).
    • Finally, the topic of conversation moves to the town dance, and the Major admits that he has been wrangled to be on the food committee.
    • Mrs. Ali is looking forward to working with him on the preparations.
  • Chapter 9

    • The Major, Mrs. Ali, and Grace meet Mrs. Rasool, Mrs. Ali's friend, who will help with the catering. They agree on a menu and try a bunch of yummy samples.
    • Mrs. Rasool has also recruited a friend named Saadia Khan to help. Mrs. Ali doesn't seem to like her very much.
    • Mrs. Khan brings along her assistant Noreen as well as Noreen's niece to help with fabrics and things.
    • The niece turns out to be Amina, who is the young Indian woman the Major and Mrs. Ali encountered on their walk last week.
    • It seems that Amina might know Mrs. Ali's nephew, Abdul Wahid, but Mrs. Ali says they're not acquainted.
    • Mrs. Khan agrees with Grace on a deal for fabrics, hoping she can wrangle a membership to the exclusive club. The Major doesn't believe that Daisy or the committee will ever allow that.
  • Chapter 10

    • Grace gets motion sickness on the way to Little Puddleton, where Roger's prospective cottage is, so instead of yarn shopping, she and Mrs. Ali wait in the car while the Major goes to meet Roger.
    • The group arrives at Apple Cottage, and the Major goes inside to meet Mrs. Augerspier, along with Roger and Sandy.
    • The Major's there to be all traditional and such to give a good impression to the old-fashioned, and crazy, Mrs. Augerspier.
    • It's all going fine until Mrs. Augerspier notices Mrs. Ali and Grace on the lawn, and she tries to shoo them away.
    • The Major clarifies that they're friends of his, and Mrs. Ali requests a glass of water for Grace, who is still ill.
    • Roger comes out with the glass of water, mad that the Major brought people with him. "One's Pakistani and one's tipsy" (10.82), he says, thinking that Grace is drunk.
    • The Major is mad at Roger for being rude, but Roger quickly turns on his (rather limited) charms for Mrs. Augerspier, and she offers to rent them her cottage.
    • Finished with his job, the Major decides it's perfect time to take Grace and Mrs. Ali home.
    • On the way back, the Major, Grace, and Mrs. Ali discuss the dance a little more. Grace insists the Major invite his son, and Mrs. Ali offers to show Grace some of her saris to possibly wear to the event.
    • The Major is disappointed that Mrs. Ali makes plans with Grace on a Tuesday or a Sunday, the days they usually hang out.
  • Chapter 11

    • When the Major arrives at the club for a round of golf with Alec, the ladies are there planning their dance event: "An Evening at the Mughal Court."
    • Amina, the young Indian woman, is there, too, teaching waitresses traditional folk dance routines.
    • Amina's going to speak to Mrs. Ali afterward, and she asks the Major to give her a ride to Mrs. Ali's shop. He agrees to, after his golf game.
    • During his game, Alec mentions that Roger offended the club secretary by waltzing in, hoping to be admitted to the club. The Major had no idea; Roger never mentioned it.
    • Alec says that Lord Dagenham's niece smoothed things over, but the Major still says he'll have a talk with Roger.
    • After the game, the Major goes to find Amina. She's doing what she does best—yelling at people.
    • The secretary told Amina to use the "service entrance," but she heard "servants' entrance" (11.55) and is causing a scene.
    • The Major watches without intervening, then goes to meet Amina after she leaves—through the members' only entrance.
    • The Major drops Amina off at Mrs. Ali's shop and goes home. But then he realizes that the bus isn't running that Thursday, so he'll need to take Amina home, too. He heads off to the shop.
    • Inside the shop, Amina and Mrs. Ali are locked in a serious discussion, and the Major doesn't want to interrupt.
    • All the party ladies show up and gab with the Major on the street.
    • Gertrude, Lord Dagenham's niece, mentions that they're going to have a ceremony in honor of the Major's father and present him with an award.
    • The Major suggests she talk to Roger and ask him to play his grandfather in a re-enactment of his heroics.
    • The ladies go about barging into the shop, even though Mrs. Ali is still talking with Amina. Inside, they interrupt everything and ask Mrs. Ali to work at the party, because she looks "so quintessentially Indian" (11.146).
    • The Major intervenes, saying Mrs. Ali can't work at the party, because she is his guest. Gasp.
    • The ladies leave, and even though the Major is still there, Mrs. Ali, Abdul Wahid, and Amina resume their discussion.
    • Mrs. Ali insists that Amina stay with them, because it seems that Amina's son, George, is Abdul Wahid's child. Double gasp.
    • Before the Major leaves to let them sort this out on their own, he wants Mrs. Ali to know he is serious about taking her to the dance, and she agrees to accompany him.
  • Chapter 12

    • Men are hammering stakes into the ground outside. For a minute, the Major thinks it's an impromptu cricket match.
    • But it isn't. It's a bunch of surveyors.
    • The Major's neighbor, Alice Pierce, says that Lord Dagenham plans to sell the land to build houses on… right in the Major's backyard.
    • The Major goes to check it out, and one of the workmen confirms it.
    • Back at the house, Alice tries to convince the Major to join a protest against the plans. "It's not about progress […] It's about greed" (12.42).
    • The Major writes a sternly worded letter to Dagenham and puts it in the postbox.
    • After mailing the letter, the Major decides to say hi to Mrs. Ali at the shop.
    • Mrs. Ali says that she offered for Amina and her son, George, to stay with them, but Abdul Wahid won't stay in the house with an unmarried woman. He's sleeping in his car.
    • The Major offers his guest room to Abdul Wahid, who stops by later to move in.
    • The Major is happy to be more involved in Mrs. Ali's life.
  • Chapter 13

    • The Major is raking leaves on a Saturday morning when there's a huge kerfuffle inside the house.
    • It's Roger, who showed up unannounced (must run in the family).
    • Roger didn't know that Abdul Wahid was there, and being crazy and a little bit racist, Roger starts a huge fight with him.
    • The Major smooths things over with Abdul Wahid and insists he stay and join them on the picnic Roger and Sandy brought.
    • The group has a nice mostly civilized discussion, mainly because Roger doesn't open his yap, and then Abdul Wahid has to go to work.
    • After lunch, Roger reveals that he's going shooting with Lord Dagenham next week, and he asks to borrow the Churchills.
    • The Major shoots that down fast, pun intended.
    • The Major admits that he'll be there himself, and he'll have the guns on him.
    • Before Roger leaves, he has to bring up Abdul Wahid one more time, saying "he could be a terrorist" (13.211). Right, Roger.
    • The Major is more sad than angry, pretty much giving up on Roger altogether: "It seemed very sad to be indifferent to one's own son" (13.214).
  • Chapter 14

    • Go fly a kite.
    • In this instance, it's not an insult. The Major and Mrs. Ali literally take young George to fly a kite.
    • While George flies his kite, Mrs. Ali and the Major discuss poetry.
    • After rhyme time, Mrs. Ali confesses that she's written a letter to her family about the sitch between Amina and Abdul Wahid, but she's scared to send it. "I am afraid everything will be taken from me," (14.40) she says.
    • The Major offers to talk to Abdul Wahid, man to man.
    • Later, a woman is rude to George, saying that her child isn't allowed to play with him.
    • George says no one plays with him, because he doesn't have a dad.
    • The Major gives George a little pep talk and says he hopes George considers him a friend.
    • George does, but he wants to do something other than fly a kite. The Major offers to teach him chess someday.
    • On the way home, Mrs. Ali posts her letter.
    • The Major goes to speak to Abdul Wahid, who says that he loves Amina, but he doesn't want to marry her.
    • Abdul Wahid wants to stick to his principles. His family forbade the marriage because of their faith—the baby out of wedlock thing, we guess—but now Abdul Wahid worries that they only want him to marry Amina because they'd get Mrs. Ali's shop out of the deal.
    • The Major advises Abdul Wahid to do what he wants, not what his ideals tell him to do.
  • Chapter 15

    • Bang bang, it's time for the shooting party.
    • On the way to Dagenham's shooting line, the Major bumps into an unaccompanied child, who starts screaming.
    • It seems that there's a private school on Dagenham's estate. The Major's neighbor, Alice, teaches there.
    • The kids are upset that all the ducks they raise are going to be shot, so to distract them, Dagenham is sending them on a field trip.
    • This kid didn't get on the bus and has wandered off into the woods.
    • Alice takes the kid back to the bus, and the Major proceeds to the shooting grounds.
    • There's a big breakfast before the shoot, and while the men are dining on yummy bacon rolls, the American, Ferguson, shows up in gaudy attire.
    • Speaking of gaudy attire, Roger shows up in hunting clothes that look fresh off the rack, when the custom is for them to look comfortable and worn.
    • The men line up, not for a photoshoot but to shoot ducks, and the Major is positioned next to Ferguson, who at one point, shoots a duck in the Major's line. How rude.
    • Ferguson apologizes and then invites the Major to come shoot with him in Scotland at some point.
    • During a break, Roger comes over to suck up to Ferguson, and Ferguson pretty much offers Roger a job if Roger can convince the Major to sell Ferguson those prized guns.
    • The happy shooting (well, happy for everyone but the ducks) is interrupted when a bunch of kids show up on the field.
    • The Major yells at everyone to stop shooting.
    • Alice runs up, rounding up the kids. She mentions that the bus stopped at a picket line—there are protesters protesting Dagenham's real estate plans—and the kids got off the bus.
    • Uh-huh, sure they did. The Major suspects Alice had something to do with it.
    • This interruption puts an end to the duck hunt, and everyone goes inside for breakfast number two.
    • For helping calm the situation with the kids and protesters, the Major is invited to a top-secret business meeting meant to confirm Dagenham's plans for a high-end luxury development in Edgecombe St. Mary. Only the rich will be allowed to live there, naturally. But they'll let everyone else stay to act as the help.
    • Dagenham mentions that he needs the money to keep his estate alive, something that's getting harder to do these days. He could avoid it if his niece, Gertrude, would marry Ferguson, but the American isn't interested.
    • Before leaving for the day, Roger mentions that Ferguson invited him to Scotland, too, giving them the perfect opportunity to sell the guns again.
  • Chapter 16

    • It's dance night already. The Major has to pick up Mrs. Ali and Grace together at Grace's cottage. When he gets there, Mrs. Ali is looking fabulous in one of Grace's aunt's sumptuous low-cut gowns.
    • Grace actually isn't there; she had to go early to setup. But the Major has to pick up Sandy along the way, too, because Roger also went without her.
    • The Major picks up Sandy, who doesn't look as stunning and perfect as she normally does. She seems a little upset about something, but no one asks what.
    • The Major and company arrive at the Grill, and Sandy goes in ahead of them to look for Roger.
    • Alec, dressed like a Grand Vizier (oh dear), has the job of announcing all the couples, and everyone looks in awe as the Major enters with Mrs. Ali.
    • At the party, there's a lot of awkward conversation, as no one recognizes Mrs. Ali in her pretty gown, even though everyone knows her from the shop.
    • Finally, Lord Dagenham shows up and says, "I declare this wonderful evening officially open." (16.139). We guess the party don't start 'til he walks in.
  • Chapter 17

    • Roger shows up with Ferguson, who, again, is in a ridiculously extravagant outfit, this time dressed like Lord Mountbatten.
    • Roger is also in uniform to play Colonel Arthur Pettigrew, his grandfather.
    • Ferguson chats with the Major about the guns some more and insinuates that he might buy them one at a time, purchasing Marjorie's directly from her.
    • The Major's friend, Alec, asks Mrs. Ali to dance, and she accepts, even though she told the Major in the last chapter that she never dances in public.
    • Alone, the Major hears Daisy and Alma, Alec's wife, gossiping some nasty things about himself and Mrs. Ali.
    • The Major asks Mrs. Ali to dance when she sits back down. Clearly his idol is Bonnie Raitt, and he's going to give those ladies something to talk about.
    • Eventually it's time for the big ceremony, a reenactment of an attack upon the Maharajah's wife—with Colonel Pettigrew, played by Roger, saving the day.
    • The reenactment doesn't go well.
    • Mr. Rasool Senior, Mrs. Rasool's father-in-law, gets up and tells them all they're making "a mock of people's suffering" (17.113).
    • Things escalate fast, and eventually drunken guests start fist fighting and food fighting.
    • Finally, someone tells the band to stop playing. Without background music, everyone realizes what idiots they're being.
    • Daisy blames Mr. Rasool Senior, of course, and Lord Dagenham just suggests that everyone go home.
    • But Daisy wants to have the award presentation first, even though the Major couldn't care less.
    • The racial discussion heats up at table six among Daisy, Roger, Mrs. Ali, and Abdul Wahid.
    • Daisy, of course, resorts to insulting Mrs. Ali, saying that Grace should never have invited her to the party, thereby implying that Mrs. Ali doesn't belong there because of her race and class.
    • The Major steps in, saying: "Grace is entitled to have anyone she likes for tea" (17.173). Even though his intentions are honorable, he immediately realizes he should have been defending Mrs. Ali first and foremost—not Grace.
    • Mrs. Ali wants to leave. Not just the party, but the entire village.
    • Mrs. Ali has the Major take her outside, and she reveals that she's planning on giving the shop away and moving out with her family. That was fast.
  • Chapter 18

    • First line of this chapter: "Mrs. Ali left the village" (18.1). She doesn't even say goodbye to the Major. Ouch. That has to hurt.
    • The Major gets a cold and has to deal with Christmas™ and all the non-stop marketing that goes with it at the same time.
    • When the Major gets over his cold, he heads to the village shop where all the handmade things Mrs. Ali normally has on display have been replaced with cold, corporate awfulness. And Mrs. Ali has been replaced by a mean old woman who sits behind the counter with two scary-looking knitting needles.
    • Abdul Wahid says hi to the Major and returns the book of Kipling poetry he lent to Mrs. Ali. Double ouch.
    • The Major goes to church, where, at least there isn't awful music being piped in 24/7.
    • It's not the Christmas miracle he hoped for. A conversation with the vicar concludes with the vicar admitting that he's glad Mrs. Ali moved. He'd hate for the Major to have married her, because there's that whole issue of "theological incompatibility" (18.45).
    • With nowhere else to turn, the Major goes to Grace's house, and she invites him in for tea. They have a nice conversation, and the Major invites her to Christmas dinner at Roger's.
  • Chapter 19

    • The Major pays Roger to a visit to let him know he's bringing a +1 (Grace).
    • Roger's cottage, however, is minus 1. Roger isn't home. And it's about to be minus 1 permanently: Sandy is leaving him.
    • Roger puts his social-ladder-climbing before Sandy, and, well, she's tired of it.
    • Sandy decides to return to America to focus on her career, and even though the Major offers to help however he can, she tells him not to bother.
    • Early the next morning (well, 8:30—early for us), the Major calls Roger.
    • Roger has realized that Sandy left him, and, in anger, he has thrown the turkey out the window.
    • The Major tells Roger to go get it, because he and Grace are still coming over. Now is the time for family.
    • When Grace and the Major arrive at Roger's cottage, Roger is still asleep.
    • The Major finds the turkey behind a hedge, and Grace does a ton of cooking while waiting for Roger to wake up.
    • When he finally comes downstairs, Roger admits that he won't be staying for dinner. Gertrude invited him to play bridge, so the ungrateful sod is going to do that.
    • The Major cannot believe how rude Roger is being, and he says to Grace: "He is no longer my son" (19.80).
    • The Major and Grace decide to take all the food back to the Major's place and leave Roger nothing but dirty dishes.
  • Chapter 20

    • The Major wonders if he's falling for Grace, and he decides that he might as well just marry her before he dies.
    • Grace is pretty much like, yeah, I don't think so, because she knows that although she and the Major get along swimmingly, his true passion is for Mrs. Ali.
    • Conveniently, Mrs. Ali has written to Grace, and Grace has her address, which she gives to the Major.
    • The Major decides to visit Mrs. Ali on his way to Ferguson's estate in Scotland, where he has been invited to shoot.
    • The Major tells Roger that their trip will take a little detour, and Roger says that's fine, because he's decided to ride up with Gertrude anyway. Ugh.
    • Roger also mentions that Sandy had an abortion at his insistence, and how, almost right after that, he told her that they could "try again next year" (20.91) and started planning a nursery right in front of her. Ugh to the infinity power.
    • The Major tells Roger than his timing was not "sensitive" (20.95).
    • Roger asks the Major where the detour is, and the Major says it's to see Mrs. Ali. Roger, of course, disapproves of the Major associating with this lowly brown woman.
    • Then, being tactless as ever, Roger asks to borrow the gun for the shoot.
    • The Major shockingly agrees, leaving his gun box with Roger and driving away.
  • Chapter 21

    • At Mrs. Ali's family's house, the Major learns that her brother-in-law, Dave Ali, is basically keeping her cut off from the outside world.
    • Mrs. Ali did write, but Dave never sent her letters.
    • Mrs. Ali shoos her brother-in-law away to talk to the Major privately, and she says that she also intended to keep the Kipling. It's all been a big misunderstanding.
    • The Major offers to take Mrs. Ali away somewhere, if she wants.
    • Mrs. Ali says yes. "We must leave now, before they try to stop me" (21.82).
    • And off the Major and Mrs. Ali go, faster than any two old people have moved since RED 2.
  • Chapter 22

    • The Major knows of a cabin in the woods where he and Mrs. Ali can camp out, and don't worry, Sigourney Weaver doesn't live under it.
    • The Major and Mrs. Ali arrive at the secluded cabin and set up some lamps for warmth.
    • The Major plans to sleep on the couch, but it's pretty darn cold. Mrs. Ali insists that he come to bed with her.
    • If the cabin's a rockin', don't come a knockin'.
    • The next morning, the Major and Mrs. Ali enjoy some hot tea and the lovely morning woods together before getting ready to return home.
  • Chapter 23

    • The Major is calling Mrs. Ali Jasmina now. Mmhmm.
    • Mrs. Ali must get back to town because Abdul Wahid and Amina are finally getting married.
    • Mrs. Ali and the Major stop at the Major's house, but someone is inside.
    • It's Roger, acting like he belongs there.
    • Roger is predictably judgmental of his father and Mrs. Ali's relationship.
    • So why is Roger even there? Well, he's upset that Gertrude is marrying Ferguson and not him. We can't see why; Roger seems like such a catch…
    • The good news is that with Ferguson out of the picture, Roger doesn't want to sell him the guns anymore. Yay.
    • Okay, now it's time to take Mrs. Ali home.
    • Mrs. Ali and the Major get to the shop, but the cops are there.
    • Amina has been stabbed. Major Pettigrew's Last Stand just got real, y'all.
    • The crazy great aunt with the knitting needles stabbed Amina, and Abdul Wahid ran away with her—the crazy aunt, that is.
    • The cops believe that Abdul Wahid may have played a part in it, but the Major and Jasmina know he'd never hurt her.
    • Mrs. Ali and the Major rush off to find Abdul Wahid, but the Major stops by his house to get his gun… just in case.
  • Chapter 24

    • The Major and Mrs. Ali arrive at the rocky beach where they first met Amina and George.
    • Lots of people like to jump off these cliffs to commit suicide—so many, in fact, that there's a suicide squad on patrol every night.
    • The Major and Mrs. Ali find Abdul Wahid on a nearby cliff, and the cray-cray old woman with the knitting needle is with him.
    • Mrs. Ali and the Major confront the old woman, who says that the family asked her to stab Amina. She's some sort of family assassin, taking care of matters the family doesn't approve of and then getting paid with "a small goat or a piece of carpet" (24.54).
    • Mrs. Ali taunts the old woman into a rage, and when the nutso old broad lunges at her with her knitting needle of death, the Major whacks her in the head with the butt of his gun, knocking her out. We can't make this stuff up, folks.
    • Unfortunately, Abdul Wahid still wants to kill himself. He feels that would be best for the honor of his family.
    • The Major thinks this is crazy talk, so he stands between Abdul Wahid and the cliff, hands him the gun, and tells him that if he wants to die, he'll have to take the Major with him.
    • Abdul Wahid doesn't want to shoot the Major, of course, so he tosses the gun aside, which is rule #2 in what not to do with a loaded weapon (rule #1 is not to look into the barrel).
    • The gun goes off, hitting the Major in the leg, and he falls over the cliff. He grabs a concrete stanchion to keep from tumbling to the rocks below… talk about a literal cliffhanger.
  • Chapter 25

    • Major Pettigrew wakes up, thankfully in the hospital and not in a bloody pile at the bottom of a cliff. He's mostly fine. His leg has been repaired, and he's recovering.
    • The Major tells Roger that he intends to ask Mrs. Ali to marry him. He's a little loose-lipped from the pain meds.
    • Mrs. Ali comes in and says that Amina has recovered from her stab wound, too, and she and Abdul Wahid intend to marry right in the hospital.
    • Mrs. Ali is glad the Major saved the day, but she's sorry he lost his prized gun.
    • The gun! It seems that when Abdul Wahid rushed to save the Major, he accidentally kicked it over the cliff. Oops.
    • The Major confesses it wasn't his gun at all. It was Bertie's gun.
    • Before drifting off into a morphine-coma, he tells Mrs. Ali to remind him later to ask her for her hand in marriage.
    • In the night, Amina is at the Major's bedside. She says that she's not going to marry Abdul Wahid, after all.
    • For Amina, "it's not enough to be in love" (25.76). She's a dancer, and she can't imagine being cooped up all day in a boring old shop.
    • So Amina's going to move in with her aunt Noreen. That way Abdul Wahid can still visit their son, and the Major can teach him to play chess someday. Aww.
  • Epilogue

    • Ding dong.
    • Those were wedding bells.
    • Mrs. Ali sneaks into the church to see the Major right before their wedding.
    • The Major and Mrs. Ali—soon to be Mrs. Major—watch people enter the church and wonder if they're doing the right thing, getting married and staying in this tiny little village.
    • Mrs. Ali says, "My heart is quite full" (Epilogue.13), and they believe they're doing the right thing.
    • The music begins, and they proceed to the church to get married.