Artboard Created with Sketch. Close Search Dialog
! Error Created with Sketch.

Major Barbara

Important Quotations Explained

Quotes Important Quotations Explained

CUSINS: By the way, have you any religion?

UNDERSHAFT: Only that there are two things necessary to Salvation.

CUSINS [disappointed, but polite]: Ah, the Church Catechism. Charles Lomax also belongs to the Established Church.

UNDERSHAFT: The two things are—

CUSINS: Baptism and— UNDERSHAFT: No. Money and gunpowder. CUSINS [surprised, but interested] That is the general opinion of our governing classes. The novelty is hearing any man confess it.

UNDERSHAFT: Just so.

CUSINS: Excuse me: is there any lace in your religion for honor, justice, truth, love, mercy, and so forth?

UNDERSHAFT: Yes: they are the graces and luxuries of a rich, strong, and safe life.

Undershaft reveals the sacraments of what Shaw describes in the preface as his millionaire's "gospel" in his first conversation with Cusins at the Salvation Army shelter in Act II. Cusins has teasingly posed himself as a "collector of religion" interested in anything out of the ordinary Undershaft's creed might offer.

For Undershaft, the world is not in God's power but in the power of the military industrialist. With money and gunpowder, Undershaft participates in the power that truly reigns over Europe, the power that determines the course of society. This re-organization of society—rather than one's faith in a religious doctrine—provides the means of salvation. For Undershaft, man does not need redemption from sinfulness but from the material abjection of poverty, hunger, and sickness. The growth of Christian virtues fundamentally rests on man's material security. Thus Undershaft wants nothing to do with a religion that abjures warfare and wealth. These evils are the necessary means by which man can be saved. Though initially resistant, a fascinated Cusins will soon convert to Undershaft's gospel. In particular, he fully comes to realize Undershaft's power upon the latter's calculated purchase of the Salvation Army, a purchase that reveals how all work of salvation is indeed contingent on those who hold the money and gunpowder.