Study Guide

Major Pettigrew's Last Stand Tradition and Customs

By Helen Simonson

Tradition and Customs

Life in the country is a lot slower than life in a big city. The people walk at a more leisurely pace, there isn't as much traffic or honking, and change… happens… slowly…

Oops. Sorry, we nodded off there for a second. Maybe because of the fat that there isn't as much to do in the country, when people do do something, they want to do it the same as the last time. Why? Simply because that's how it's always been done. Why rock the boat?

Not everyone wants to do everything the same all the time, especially people from different cultures with different customs. In Major Pettigrew's Last Stand, Mrs. Ali has different customs from those of the Major, for example, and Mrs. Ali even views tradition differently from the way her nephew views it. Traditions and customs vary wildly among the spiderwebbing lines of class, race, and age.

Questions About Tradition and Customs

  1. What common traditions and customs do the Major and Mrs. Ali share? Which of their customs are different?
  2. What are some of the traditions of Edgecombe St Mary? Which people are in charge of overseeing them? Are they flexible with tradition? Who challenges their traditions, and how do these people respond?
  3. Does Roger respect his father's traditions?

Chew on This

Roger only adheres to tradition when he thinks it can move him forward socially, which is an interesting paradox—looking to the past to take steps into the future.

The Major uses tradition as an excuse to keep the Churchill hunting guns together, but he's really doing it for himself. Sadly, his family tradition was neglected by his brother long ago.