Parent and Child
In the opening act of Major Barbara, Barbara meets her father, whom she cannot remember ever knowing. Although she has been raised solely by her mother, the two do not seem close, and Lady Britomart is clearly unhappy with—even uncomprehending of—Barbara's interest in the Salvation Army. Barbara is not close to either her mother or her father, but in the Army she has found a sort of surrogate parent, a fact that is emphasized when Barbara later says that there are no orphans in the Army.
When Undershaft enters, however, the importance of the relationship between Barbara and her father becomes immediately apparent. Barbara sees him as a soul in need of salvation; he wishes to convert her to his view of life. While showing the importance of Barbara's relationship with her father, Shaw also establishes some tension between Lady Britomart and Undershaft as parents when, as Undershaft leaves the room with the children at the end of Act I, Lady Britomart expresses dismay over the possibility of the children changing their loyalty from the mother who raised them to the father who initially cannot remember their names or even exactly how many children he has.
As the play progresses, Barbara becomes disillusioned with her surrogate parent, the Salvation Army, because of its acceptance of her father's tainted money. At first she believes she has lost everything important to her, but after touring the Undershaft...
(The entire section is 1223 words.)
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