Major Barbara

Quotes

Important Quotations Explained

Quotes Important Quotations Explained

There is no wicked side: life is all one. And I never wanted to shirk my share in whatever evil must be endured, whether it be sin or suffering. I wish I could cure you of middle-class ideas, Dolly.

CUSINS [gasping]: Middle cl—! A snub! A social snub to me! From the daughter of a foundling!

BARBARA: That is why I have no class, Dolly: I come straight out of the heart of the whole people. If were middle class, I should turn my back on my father's business

Barbara declares herself class-less at the end of Act III upon her conversion to her father's gospel and decision to return to the Salvation Army. She does so as the daughter of a foundling father. Within Undershaft's dogma, the foundling figures as a willful, self-made superman, a man whose thoughts and actions remain free from the chains of familial ties and class convention. The foundling is poised to destroy the old and inaugurate the new.

Thus, for example, as the child of a foundling, Barbara transcends Cusins's "middle-class morality" in her ability to move beyond his received notions of good and evil. Recognizing the necessity of men like Undershaft to the Army, of war and bloodshed to salvation, Barbara has come to realize that "life is all one." Though her Holy Father has forsaken her, she has now adopted her blood "father's business."

For Barbara, her foundling heritage also means that she comes "straight from the heart of the whole people." In other words, she considers herself universal rather than bound to a specific social position. Preaching her father's Word, she can serve as savior to everyone. Ironically, Barbara's proclamation would blatantly deny the class status that makes her Salvationist career possible. As revealed by her assault on Bill Walker in Act II, Barbara is not only compelling because of the "inspiration" she exudes, but also the authority she wields in her aristocratic heritage, a class background that marks her polished speech and professional manner.