Study Guide

Major Pettigrew's Last Stand Society and Class

By Helen Simonson

Society and Class

British society is very concerned with keeping up appearances. Just look at programs like Downton Abbey, its predecessor Upstairs Downstairs, or the very appropriately named Keeping Up Appearances. In Major Pettigrew's Last Stand, the residents of Edgecombe St. Mary, where Major Pettigrew lives, are no different. A town this small is still gonna have its class divides—and with fewer people, the lines between them are that much more apparent.

Questions About Society and Class

  1. How do the characters in the book fit into society and into various economic classes?
  2. Which characters stay within their class, and which form relationships outside of it? How are the characters who venture outside of their class treated by those who don't?
  3. How does Lord Dagenham plan to preserve British society? Does this come at the expense of the village?
  4. Why isn't Roger successful in his climbing of social ladders?

Chew on This

The Major wouldn't have found happiness if he had stayed within his social comfort zone. Only by stepping outside it does he realize what he's been missing.

Roger puts social climbing above everything else, which ends up hurting his relationships more than helping them.