Study Guide

Major Pettigrew's Last Stand Marriage

By Helen Simonson

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Lots of books deal with falling in love, planning a wedding, or navigating a tricky first marriage (perhaps ending in a first divorce). But the characters in Major Pettigrew's Last Stand are experts at marriage. Both the Major and Mrs. Ali were married for decades before, sadly, their spouses passed away. Why would they ever want to get married again? The decision to do so seems to come as a surprise to them both. Maybe having done it right once, they know how good it can be?

Questions About Marriage

  1. The Major and Mrs. Ali say very little about their previous marriages. Why don't they talk about these experiences more? What do they reveal, and what do you learn about their relationships when they do discuss them?
  2. How does each family and culture—the Major's British family and Mrs. Ali's Pakistani family—view marriage? Are these views different?
  3. Why does Amina decide not to marry Abdul Wahid? Why don't Roger and Sandy want to get married? Why do Mrs. Ali and the Major decide to remarry? Is each couple's attitude toward marriage the result of generational differences, or something else?

Chew on This

Both the Major and Mrs. Ali had the best relationship of their lives with their spouses, a relationship stronger than the relationship either one had with their own parents or even their own children. No wonder they decide to remarry and try it again.

The Major and Mrs. Ali marry for love, while the younger generations—Roger and Sandy, or Amina and Abdul Wahid—seem to be motivated to marry only for money. That's why neither younger couple ends up getting hitched in the end; there's no passion there.

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